With the pandemic has come an explosion in working from home. It is a change in the workforce that was frankly overdue. While remote work might seem like a dream come true at the outset, some challenges are involved, which many are experiencing now.
What Happened to My 9 to 5?
It’s safe to say that working from home is here to stay. Several surveys indicate that over 60% of individuals work at home right now and that 40% would prefer to work from home even after COVID restrictions are lifted. Some businesses are looking at keeping their employees remote to reduce foot traffic and save money.
Challenges of Working from Home
Some remote workers find it difficult to distinguish between work and home. One way to add structure to your WFH situation is to dedicate yourself a workspace. This should be an area in your home designated for work.
Your workspace shouldn’t be a place where you spend your leisure time. It doesn’t have to be an office; not everyone has the room for that. It doesn’t have to be a large space. But it should be a place where you can work comfortably with minimal distractions and include everything you need to maximize your effectiveness.
Having a defined workspace is critical to a healthy work-life balance because it provides an observable, much-needed boundary between work and home.
Another way to add structure is to schedule specific work times with breaks into your day. Few people are entirely productive eight hours a day. You need periodic short breaks to avoid burnout.
Try a modified Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of focused work with zero distractions followed by a five-minute, non-screen-related break. After four 25-minute work sessions or “pomodoros,” take a longer, 20-30-minute break. I personally use 2 hourglasses to time my work. Use whatever system works for you. Just remember to take breaks!
Some remote workers report feelings of isolation or a lack of social interaction with peers. COVID has especially complicated this dilemma because it’s not like you can meet your friends at a bar after work right now. So how does one cope?
There’s no easy answer to this question. However, there are Zoom, Slack, and other similar apps, which many people have made good use of to maintain contact with friends and relatives. For teambuilding, Business Insider recommends meeting face-to-face at least quarterly to strengthen connections between coworkers.
The Biggest Challenge
Do you feel like your 9 to 5 has followed you home? Traditional office hours are hard to maintain, especially when you work from home. There are distractions during the workday and the nagging temptation after hours to log back in “just for a minute.” The problem with “just a minute” is that it’s never just a minute!
If you’re going to work at home successfully, you must permit yourself to shut off work. When you’re done for the day, you’re done for the day. No checking emails, no going on Skype, work is over. There are ways to disable or silence your notifications until the following day if you go into the Settings menu of whatever app you’re using. Believe it or not, being able to shut down takes discipline, too, just as working productively does.
How to Create a Work Schedule That Can Maximize Your Effectiveness
Making an effective work schedule is a matter of recognizing your habits and behaviors at work and understanding your home and family obligations. If you’re unfamiliar with what they are, here’s a guide to assess them.
Understand Your Effective Work Time When On-Site
The traditional eight-hour workday wasn’t really designed with individual productivity in mind. Few people are fully productive for eight straight hours. Ask yourself these questions:
- During what part of the day are you the most productive?
- When do you lag?
- What behaviors make you aware of these peaks and troughs?
- How long and how frequent are your breaks?
- What do you usually do on a break? Do you find that you come back to work refreshed and focused, or foggy?
Understand Your At-Home Obligations
Next, examine your home situation. If you have three kids, you have greater family obligations than if you’re living alone or perhaps with a pet. Reasonable questions to ask yourself might be:
- Do you have someone who depends on you?
- What must you do on a regular basis to fulfill their needs?
- How much time does it take?
- What (if any) obligations do you share with a partner?
If you’re potty training a three-year-old, the nature of your obligation is going to look a lot different than if you have teenagers who need rides to and from baseball practice. But when it’s all said and done, the time commitment might be similar.
Adjust Your Work Schedule Accordingly
You’re working at home. Who says you have to work the standard 9 to 5? If it doesn’t work for you, change it up. I have a client who puts in the same eight hours but does so in two-hour increments. This way, he’s able to satisfy the family obligations while getting work tasks done.
Don’t Mix Work and Personal
It’s important to create work at work. It’s equally important to fulfill personal or family obligations when with family. Don’t do work when with family. Don’t do family while at work. Keep them separate. This may seem obvious, but it’s not as easy as you might think.
Finally, use an organizing system, like 5S, to keep your workspace orderly. 5S is a five-step method developed as part of the Toyota Production System (known as Lean Production in the West) that promotes optimal worker productivity, safety, cleanliness, and effectiveness.
Working from Home Can Be Rewarding
Working from the comfort of your own home is a gift when you have the right tools in place. Many people find that it increases their productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction. You have more freedom, and personal relationships are better. Plus, you can’t beat the commute.
Working from home requires more discipline than working in an office. A solid work plan can make all the difference. If you need help designing an effective strategy, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us at https://structuredspace.net/contact/ today.