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Lockdowns might be lifting and restrictions steadily reducing, but some of the shifts brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic appear to be here to stay.
Among them is the trend of working from home, with a recent Forbes survey highlighting many employees favour the work from home (WFH) arrangement for a range of different reasons.
So how do you set up the ideal WFH environment and ensure ultimate productivity?
A recent survey published in Forbes found 59 per cent of people feel just ‘fine and dandy’ about the concept of working from home.
Interestingly, men favour the arrangement more than women, with 62 per cent of males likely to continue working from home in the future, while 57 per cent of women feel the same.
And our top reasons for working from home?
1. Time with family (34 per cent)
2. No commute (29 per cent)
3. Flexible schedule (17 per cent)
4. Saving money (11 per cent)
5. More productive (5 per cent)
6. Less office politics (4 per cent)
But working from home is not without its challenges. In the same survey people highlighted a series of negatives in the WFH environment, including:
1. More distractions (29 per cent)
2. Less social interaction (25 per cent)
3. Work/life balance (18 per cent)
4. Poor home office (10 per cent)
5. Less productive (10 per cent)
6. Hard to communicate (8 per cent)
So, how do you establish a routine and environment that affords you the luxury of working from home, without the distractions?
As tempting as it might be to set up at the kitchen bench, if you’re committed to working from home for an extended period rather than just a few hours, this situation is never ideal.
You need a dedicated workspace that has all the things you require readily at hand, such as stationary, wireless internet connection, desk, phone charger etc.
Ideally this space should be a place that you can walk into, close the door, and get down to work straight away. It should also be a place you can walk out of at the end of a productive working session without needing to clear all your things away.
In addition to being practical, your dedicated workspace should be comfortable and appealing. Consider adding items like plants and lamps that make this a light, welcoming space you want to be in.
Meanwhile, do not overlook the importance of ergonomics, particularly when it comes to the chair you use, the height of your desk, and the positioning of your tablet or computer.
This might mean you need to invest in a few little home office additions, but if working from home is something you’ll be doing regularly, it’s worth the relatively small outlay in the interests of your long-term health.
Some of us are early birds, some of us are night owls, and some of us are navigating working from home with small children.
The key is to work when you’re most productive. That might be early in the morning so you can knock out those tough tasks in relative peace and quiet, or it could be during the time you would normally be commuting.
A daily to-do list is essential, and that may also encompass other items outside of work that you’re looking to complete in order to keep the home fires burning.
Many of the most successful people who work from home have something called an ideal week. The ideal week encompasses all the things you’d like to get done including spending time with family and exercising, in addition to work tasks.
Set out your ideal week, break it into daily tasks and schedule blocks of time to complete each job. Blocking time allows you to focus clearly on the task at hand, without distraction.
This extends right down to tasks like phone calls and returning emails. Block set times to manage your inbox and speak to the people you need to.
If social media is likely to be among the candidates for distraction, block set times when you are permitted to scan social media and stick to these scheduled allotments.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to schedule down-time or family time. You might be working from home but that doesn’t mean you should be working 24/7.
There’s no doubt the office environment has a social element to it, with 25 per cent of people surveyed indicating a major negative of working from home was less social interaction.
That’s where technology comes in for virtual meetings and quick catchups to help you stay connected with your co-workers. Among the top picks for meetings is well-known software like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams, while quick FaceTime calls at least allow you to see another human being.
One of the greatest challenges of working from home is negotiating a routine with your household.
It pays to be clear on when you will be working and should not be disturbed, and when you will be free. Again, this is where blocking time can be of assistance.
Meanwhile, this is a two-sided coin. Liaise with your workplace about when you will be hard at work, when deadlines will be met, and what they can expect in terms of productivity.
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