How to boost your productivity while working from home?
Working, while enjoying the weather and homemade tea without hesitating about the break timing, is awesome. Do all these things fascinate you too? I am sure they do. Working from home is overwhelming. No traffic hosh-posh and certainly no office formal wear. You don’t need to get up according to the alarm clock, rush to the transport or probably your car even if you do not need to remember about all the things you probably have forgotten to shut off while leaving your house in a hurry.
Many organizations, big or small, and new start-ups offer their employees to work from home. It is a third way and probably one of the most convenient options an employer can give to their employees. By opting this, employers don’t need to be worried about hiring extra staff such as an office boy, a guard or other supporting staff (this is completely applicable to the people who hire all freelancers not regular employees). Considering all the benefits and employee’s interest, few of the world’s top companies offer their employees to work from home, permanently or partly. Few of the best US healthcare companies such as Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare group and MNCs like Amazon and Convergys etc also allow their employees to work from home.
I understand how comfortable and cool it sounds when you hear that somebody operates their work from home. It is luxuries but on the flip side working outside of a traditional office environment creates lots of challenges in front of the employee. We will discuss in details how to cope up with these situations, however, lets first discuss what kind of consequences we face while working from home and why?-
Consequences of working from home –
Isolation- Working out of the office environment is one of the major issues even sometimes becomes a nightmare for people working from home and it is quite understandable. When we work from the office we follow a basic routine such as getting dressed, meeting new people (applies to some), greeting office members, and enjoying Fridays etc. Though it does not affect our lifestyle entirely but for some this routine is a part of their day which makes them feel alive. Many people fight this issue by staying connected with their colleagues.
Bound to work even after working hours – Professionals working from home, often likely to exceed their work hours. There can be multiple reasons behind it but one which is considerable is we don’t have to hurry to get back to home and meet family as we are already around them so it doesn’t matter for us to exceed the working hours. However, it is only good when you are not making a habit of it. This way you will also exceed the false expectations of your office.
Being overlooked for promotion – How many people we meet in a day and out of that number how many do we actually remember by face or personality? Executives, working from home, are often overlooked for promotions especially when only few are working from home in the office. This is not because you don’t work hard while working from home but when you start working from home gradually your PR skills go down. You are not around people, neither shake hands nor ask about their wellness or hangout in free/break time. We don’t consider this but these habits play a major role in your promotion.
Need to self discipline – One has to be highly self disciplined while working from home. Remember, you are surrounded by distractions or probably an environment where working from is not being considered as working for an office. There is only one thing which can keep you up and help to be consistent- Self Discipline. You need to motivate yourself to stay away from distraction and keep self control. Best way to do it, is to keep yourself connected with your colleagues and especially your boss/manager/supervisors. You will be under the impression that they are watching. It is the easiest motivation you can opt to keep yourself disciplined.
Avoiding distractions – Whether you are an office worker or you work from home, distractions will always be there. However, office distractions often seemed easy to avoid. When you are home, you face distractions from unavoidable sources for example- children, parents, wife/husband, pets, neighbors, and friends etc. among which family is something you cannot ignore at any circumstances. Only way to avoid these is to make them believe that you are actually working. Take your break like you take in your office; let’s say for an hour exact. Be unavailable for interruption within work hours in spite of your physical presence at home and mainly avoid watching TV during your work hours.
Difficulty in separating work from home duties – The temptation of being engaged in households matters. You are in front of your family and you can’t avoid a few things such as responding to doors when the bell rings, answering the telephone, picking kids from the school, taking care of your pet for a while, cooking something instantly and all other necessary and urgent work you can think of. These come under responsibility and certainly you can’t avoid it simply. Also when you are working from home you start realizing to do household and socializing which is completely common. You must be thinking then what should we do to avoid these? It is not simple but you need to draw a line between your household and family time and work hours. Always remember both are important and both deserve your full attention.
Working from home is certainly not a piece of cake as it looks like. It is not for anyone. Unfortunately, you don’t understand this until you really start working from home. There is one more thing I have noticed in years. Once you have started working from home for a long time, you actually can’t just go back to an office environment and start working. You hate wearing formal clothes; you don’t like eating from the limited menu of your canteen, and you definitely start avoiding travelling. I must say working from home is not healthy for people who are single as it increases the introverted personality in you, and creates an isolated you. That is not bad but not best either.
Tips to boost your productivity while working from home –
Get started early – Starting your work early is one of the best things you can use for self while working from home. If you are a morning person then this will certainly help you to boost your productivity. Start working as soon as you get up or just after your gym and take a break after a few hours to prepare breakfast for yourself. This way your mind will stay productive without interruption at least for these beginning hours and you will be able to finish your work early to enjoy some time with your family.
Pretend like you are going to the office – Our home is a place designed to provide all comfort to us which is great for breaks and to relax but not suitable for work. If you start your work in your pajamas then most likely you would feel sleepy or start having a feeling of weekend mornings. I am not saying here to get up strictly according to your alarm clock, go straight to the shower, wear formal shirt, pant-tie etc this way you will miss the advantage part but the best way to start your work hours is take a shower get into the semi-work dress code and flip your mind switch from home mode to work mode.
Organize your work space – Organizing your work space is one of the most important things when you even think about working from home. Remember, you are allowed to work from home that doesn’t mean you can work from your bed. Stay away from all possible furniture that makes you lazy. Design your work area with some manuals, pictures, memos etc whatever gives you a feeling of office. Keep essential items like a table and chair, table lamp, pin-board and a poster with full of motivation quotes if you like. It is necessary that you keep yourself out of your home’s comfort zone. One more thing, design your workplace a bit away from the living room and TV.
Communication is essential – Your communication with your colleagues is very essential. Since you are not in your office and stopping by at your colleague’s desk to know about the new projects and updates about your office, you need to stay in touch with them for being updated about these. There are many professional and casual tools you can use such as email, messaging, calls, and video calls to give them a nudge to ask about latest updates about the office. Among these I find messaging and video call options best to discuss meetings and group conversations.
Stay focused – Minimize your all possible distractions. I understand you are home and you have all the liberties like creating a rock playlist to play or unlimited surfing at social media websites such as twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and to use all other restrictive websites but you do not want to become a Dj or a social media manager, would you? Make conscious efforts to limit the use of these tools during your work hours. Apart from that there are some uninvited distractions that you can’t possibly avoid at an early stage like pets, children and a visitor. A quick chat with children is always fine or pat but a dog in your lap or your family standing behind your desk and probably making plans for dinner or next weekend will surely impede your productivity. You need to make your family specially children understand the seriousness of your work and don’t be bound to attend every visitor you have.
Eat Healthy stay healthy – Your kitchen will be close at hand but obviously during work nobody gets time to cook lunch but that doesn’t mean you need to survive on chips. Also you won’t have your colleagues to remind you or take you out for lunch so it is your task now to remind yourself to drink water or have food. You can make a schedule and set a reminder for lunch. Eat healthy food. Enrich your lunch with salads and natural energy drinks instead of caffeine drinks. You can also divide your lunch in three sections and eat in short intervals.
Take necessary breaks – You are going to read a contradictory sentence with whatever I have talking above. It is very much important to take a break during your productivity time. This way you will increase your concentration on your work. Research has shown that the most productive workers focus for 52 minutes, and then disengage for at least 15-17 minutes. This works as mind refreshment and you start working with a less tired mind when you get back to work. By saying ‘take a break’, I mean leaving your chair, laptop/computer and your phone at your desk for 15 minutes. Stretch your body, drink plenty of water and walk around then come back and start working.
And, don’t forget to enjoy your liberty – Despite all consequences; there are also many advantages to working from home. One of the most interesting things about working from home is you do not need to limit yourself with office space. You can work at a café, beach, from somewhere in the mountains, from your terrace or from a friend’s home you did not visit for a long time. You need to be adaptable to the changes. You are working from home doesn’t mean you need to be a couch potato. Plan your office and work from there. Be happy about your surroundings and I am certain this will increase your work productivity.
Watch this short video to get some visual tips –