Over the past year, we’ve all – at some point or another – swapped the office desk for the dining table, the morning commute to the school run, and the Monday staff meetings to an online video call.
75% of people believe that their ability to work from home – or anywhere else that suits them – has helped them achieve a better work life balance, and there are thousands of businesses across the globe who have taken the decision to make remote working the standard. However, without the return to the office in sight, the challenges in working from home could become worse.
Today, we’re discussing the three most challenging aspects of working from home, and a few working from home productivity statistics. We’ll also discuss how these can all be solved with the right tools, a positive mindset and a little support from your colleagues.
3 most challenging aspects of working from home:
With the television, a lawn that looks a little overgrown, or last night’s dishes calling, it can be really hard to focus when working from home. There are so many distractions, and it can often feel like there’s an expectation that during your workday, you get all the chores done. If you live with someone who has to leave the house for work, you can almost feel guilty when they get home to a messy house.
Despite all the noise of home life, according to FlexJobs, 75% of people think there are fewer distractions at home than in the office – which thereby allows them to be more productive during the day. Many people suggest colleagues can be a huge distraction – whether it’s through general conversation or pulling them away to do other small tasks.
Learning how to stay focused working from home is tricky, but there are several tips and techniques to put in place in order to help.
Take regular breaks
While taking breaks might seem counterproductive when it comes to staying focussed, it can actually make a massive difference. Rather than procrastinating on the task – ultimately taking longer to complete it – structured, regular breaks give you a chance to fix that itch that’s stopping you from focussing on your work. As a general rule of thumb, it’s advised that you take a 5-10 minute break every hour.
And these breaks should be used as an opportunity to get away from the computer. Stretch, get some fresh air and make yourself a snack or a coffee before sitting back down.
In a similar vein, lunch breaks should be used as a break. You might use them to do a little housework, but it’s important to step away from your computer. We’re all guilty of answering a few emails while quickly munching on a sandwich, but taking an actual break (a break you legally should be taking) can be the difference between a productive afternoon and a long, drawn out day.
Write your to do list at night
According to Baylor’s Sleep, Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, writing the next day’s to-do list at night before bed can have a hugely positive impact on your day. Rather than trying to sleep on a busy mind, writing all your jobs into a list before you hit the hay can help you fall asleep quicker and, as such, have a better night’s sleep. And we all know how much more focussed we feel when we’re well rested.
Use Leverice’s workflow and messaging tools
Starting the day with a few follow up messages to colleagues can really help you hit the ground running. Leverice’s instant messaging means you’ll be able to quickly gain the information you need, rather than waiting on email replies or phone calls.
Different messaging boards can be used to provide more focus – even when teams are working on multiple projects at a time. By keeping topics separate, all information related to a specific task can be found in a central place, rather than having to scroll through the email inbox to find the right details.
What’s more, the workflow structures that can be created in the app for your team, will give you a clear focus for the day. Wake up, load up the computer and see what’s next to be completed.
2. Effective Communication
We’ve all misread an email, or misconstrued the tone of a message, and this is one of the biggest challenges for remote workers. As there’s no in-person chit chat, it can be difficult to gauge the attitude or real feelings of the person on the other side of the internet.
The lack of in person activity, can also lead to teams feeling a lot more distant than they would if they were grabbing coffees with friends throughout the day, or sat next to their colleagues in the office.
Fortunately, there has been a huge, increased focus on teaching staff how to communicate while working from home over the past year – meaning there’s plenty of information and tips out there to help.
Work from home communication tools
With the move to permanent remote working, email and telephone simply won’t cut it when trying to effectively communicate with distant teams.
Thankfully, communication tools like Leverice offer a multitude of in-app options ranging from chat boxes to group video conferences. Seeing other team members on the screen gives staff more opportunity to read body language and sense if things are not quite right. Instant message also helps maintain the social element of heading to the office for work. Without, this staff may feel a little disconnected to those that they used to feel close to.
Web chat can be categorised into different topics – from specific projects to casual boards for chatting about holidays, managers or general gossip. By giving staff a space to make conversation – free from the view of their manager – businesses can maintain that social aspect that many remote workers miss out on.
Provide effective feedback
Nobody likes receiving bad feedback, even when it’s called for. Teaching yourself, or your team about how to provide feedback in an effective and positive way can really change the dynamic of the group. Positive and effective communication is much easier to understand, and feedback will be more easily taken on board.
One key recommendation for providing effective feedback is to ensure you offer as much positivity as negativity. If you need to provide someone with a few tips for improvement, make sure to complement or highlight the areas that they excel in beforehand so that it’s not all doom and gloom.
Finally, productivity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found that in an 8-hour work day, most people are only really productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes.
Focus and communication can significantly increase or decrease working from home productivity. While you might feel like you’ve been working all day, the amount of work you’ve done doesn’t always represent that time proportionately. As mentioned previously, there are plenty of distractions that can seriously slow down your ability to work while maintaining speed and accuracy. As such, productivity levels can decrease.
But there are also other barriers to being productive; remote workers can often struggle to have all the information and files they need to get the job done when not in the office. Tracking down these files can take a big chunk out of the day – time that could have been used to get work done.
Below are a few productivity tips for working from home.
With Leverice’s cloud-based file management, staff have access to everything they need with a click of a button. Rather than having a huge number of confusing filing structures and duplicate copies, staff can work directly on a document while others do the same. This overall helps with data handling as well as boosting productivity.
Teamwork makes the dream work, and Leverice is all about anchoring the power of collaboration. Our team tools offer online whiteboards, video meetings and workflow structures to help teams work better together than ever before. Staff can take responsibility for different areas of a project and maintain a level of accountability when the work isn’t finished. And nobody wants to let the team down!
When searching for ‘how to be productive working from home’, there’s no one size fits all option. Everyone is different, meaning the way they work can seriously differ. If you’re not chained to the 9-5 structure, some employees may find working late at night the best time for their productivity, while others will enjoy an early morning gym session then heading straight to their desk. Finding a work structure that works for you will see your work being completed faster and more efficiently than ever.
Is working from home more productive?
Leverice’s vast number of tools can make working from home more productive than heading to the office. With a positive attitude, collaboration and real time document editing, teams can work efficiently and effectively without losing out on the social aspect the office can offer.