Working from home is a divisive subject. On the one hand, some people value the fact that they’re able to get things done from the comfort of their own apartment. On the other hand, though, a lot of workers report that the exact opposite is true. They’re having a hard time staying productive at home, with distractions seemingly coming from everywhere. Another common complaint is the lack of human interaction. Chatting with co-workers, getting lunch together, or even just going about your business with other people around can have a positive impact on one’s productivity and mood during working hours.
If you belong to the second group but are forced to work remotely due to the social distancing regulations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this time might prove to be exceptionally challenging for you. You may even find yourself facing a much larger workload than usual. Unfortunately, it’s commonplace in many offices to offload additional tasks to the remote workforce, as if working remotely was a privilege, not something that was forced upon them by a deadly pandemic. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to make sure that the basic employment rights for a worker are respected before you start looking for ways to get more work done throughout the day.
Once you get that out of the way, check out what some of our more experienced remote workers have to say about staying productive and stress-free when working from home.
Structure is Key
It’s fairly easy to upset the work-life balance when you first start working from home. When working in an office, your day is as structured as it can get — you come in at 9 in the morning, work away until your lunch break around 1 pm, get back to your desk around a quarter to 2, and race to finish up with all the tasks until you’re free to go home at 5. It’s simple, straightforward, and leaves you with plenty of “me time” in the afternoon.
Working from home is a completely different beast, though. Shirley, one of our many employees that have switched to remote work in March, says that at the start, work time didn’t feel like what it did at the office, and she often found herself feeling as if she’s on paid leave, which had a negative impact on her productivity. Everything has changed, though, as soon as she structured her day to resemble regular office hours as much as possible.
Waking up a minute before you’re supposed to open your computer is the first thing you should change — you would never do that if you knew you had to commute to the office, would you? The same goes for continuing to work till the end of the day — you wouldn’t stay in the office until late in the evening, and so you shouldn’t be doing so at home. Not only does it mess up your work schedule, but it can also hurt your personal life.
Create an Actual Workspace
The term “home office” gets thrown a lot these days as a synonym for working remotely. But have you ever thought about the meaning this phrase is actually conveying? In order to be as productive as possible, you need to set up a real office within the confines of your apartment. Steer clear from working in bed — the least you should do is sit at your desk when you start the day. If you have enough space, you should designate a separate room as your personal workspace and stick with it. That doesn’t only mean disallowing home life to enter that room, but also never taking work out of there.
Matthew, who has been working remotely for us even before the pandemic, claims that he has managed to get the most out of his time at home because he was able to set up a dedicated room, where the only thing he did was work. What about checking your email and completing tasks from the living room? For Matthew, that’s out of the question. “Too many distractions,” he says, “it’s called a living room for a reason.”
Limit Your Distractions
Once you get your workspace sorted out, you’ll need to take care of other potential distractions that might disrupt your flow. Consider blocking access to social media on your home network during the working hours, or disabling the option completely on your work computer. It may sound incredibly difficult at first, but keeping away from Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for eight hours per day is actually not that impossible if you occupy yourself with the things you should actually be doing.
Working from home entails having to face your inner procrastinator every day. It might be easier for some, but the truth is that with the right attitude and discipline, anyone can successfully transition to that system without much trouble. Remember to keep your office habits intact — set an alarm for the same time you did back when you had to commute to work and make good use of your calendar. As opposed to office life, no one will help you with structuring your time — it’s your own responsibility, and if you put some effort into making it all work, you’ll find that being able to get stuff done on your own terms is actually quite liberating!
Maciej Grzymkowski – an avid traveler with a particular affinity for Southeast Asia. I love to explore the differences between corporate cultures and ways of doing business in different parts of the world, and I’m always keen on adopting alternative and exotic solutions in my own work.