Have you felt more productive working from home during the pandemic? There’s a reason for it.
The insistent, throbbing beats from the leaky earbuds of the person sitting beside you. The constant bits of conversation in the air. Colleagues waiting to pounce with questions the moment you look away from your screen. It’s no wonder you’ve found your groove now while working from home.
Many firms argue remote working doesn't promote collaboration and use this as their reasoning for their pressure to get employees back quickly.
BUT did you know that just 17% of office space is used for meeting rooms and collaborative areas? 83% of it is actually for individual work space, i.e. you trying to work alone. Surrounded by other people also trying to work alone. Which then of course, leads to distractions.
The majority of UK workers (72%) would like to work within a hybrid workplace arrangement. If you’ve been experiencing a work from home productivity groove, you may be wondering how you’ll continue your high performance during your in-office work days.
Read on for our 5 tips to help you maintain your work from home “feels” and fend off office distractions.
#1 Get Organised and Plan Ahead
Some work tasks are just naturally better suited to a specific environment. Carefully analysing your tasks can help you decide which ones are better performed in the office, and which ones at home.
In the office, you want to make use of the opportunity to connect with colleagues. This would include anything that requires conversation or collaboration:
- meetings with detailed agendas
- creating or practising a presentation with multiple contributors
- corporate culture-building activities
- sensitive conversations
While at home, you want to take advantage of your large blocks of uninterrupted time.
Anything where you don't need someone's active and simultaneous feedback or participation is something you should do at home. For instance:
- reading, responding to, or drafting emails
- creating presentations
- analysing or entering data
- writing a report
- brief, check-in meetings
- agenda-driven or “straightforward” meetings (i.e., ones that don't need prolonged discussion or follow-ups)
*A special note about video or virtual meetings*
Be mindful of your agenda if you're planning a meeting. Ask yourself, "would this be too much for a video call?"
Virtual meeting fatigue is a legitimate complaint. Endless or discussion-heavy video meetings are extremely tiring for participants. Your productivity weakens if you're mentally exhausted,
#2 Duplicate Your Physical Set Ups
There’s nothing more confounding than working at a different desk. Precious minutes always seem to slip away. Why is it so hard to get settled and start working?
Muscle memory is at fault here. Every time you switch environments, your brain needs to "work" to remember what to do. By retraining your brain, you can get your work day to work for you a little more effortlessly.
Streamlining the transition between your two spaces can help.
Creating matching layouts of each workspace can help ease your mental gymnastics. Use the same or similar type of desk, chair, lights, and computer desktop configuration. And don’t forget about your plants!
An easy physical transition translates into increased productivity throughout your workday.
#3 Schedule Regular Communication With Your Boss
To many managers, you're "out of sight, out of mind" when you work from home. This mindset can ultimately penalise you unless you make the effort to put in some "face time" with them.
Managers and colleagues alike become nervous when they’re not aware of what you're doing. (The assumption is that you must not be working.) Be sure they know what you’re working on, how you’re progressing, and share your wellbeing or mental state.
A regular channel of communication with your boss is key. This is particularly true during the transition to a hybrid workplace when everyone is getting used to new routines.
That said, you don't want to be the one over-communicating just to show that you're "present." Presenteeism creates a domino effect when left unfettered. It infects entire teams, even digitally (ex., emails sent after hours or instantly responded to).
Creating clear understanding within teams working with flexible work arrangements negates the need to always prove you’re “on the job.”
#4 Connect with Colleagues
Don’t underestimate the need for human connection and relationship-building when not in the office. Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, social connections at the office are as important as "the work" you do at home.
When you’re physically disconnected from the office, you’re simultaneously disconnected from resources and socialisation. Your casual or ad hoc conversations decrease dramatically when working from home. Your soft skills also become soft. Therefore, communication within hybrid work teams needs to be more intentional.
Planning both formal and informal social interactions when you're in the office can help. Make the point of enjoying a coffee or a longer lunch to “catch up” with colleagues every in-office day.
The personal connections you create at the office lay the foundations of trust. These are the trusting relationships you can fall back on when you need help from home. (Think about it. Who will you feel comfortable contacting when you're having a technical issue at home or need a sounding board? Who will your manager consider for a promotion?)
If you think you need some extra help in this area, communication skills training can help you build the bridges you’ll need for both your in-person and virtual work worlds.
#5 Develop and Keep Boundaries
Creating boundaries for yourself... and sticking to them, so they become part of your work routine, are an essential part of your burnout prevention strategy. A course to increase your mindfulness at work can be helpful to reinforce the factors that maintain your work wellbeing.
Apply this “boundaries mindset” to the entirety of your hybrid work world. That is,
To disconnect yourself at the end of your work from home workday:
- create a signal to yourself that the work day has ended
- log off the computer
- close the home office door
- turn off the desk light
- take a walk outside
- enjoy a cocktail with your spouse or a friend
And, to do the same at the end of your work day at the physical office:
- log of the computer
- leave!! (don't linger)
- go to the gym
Remember, you don’t need to create visual reassurance if you're keeping regular communication with your team members and manager. If you are a manager, be sure to lead by example. Ensure your team is not "hanging around" the office just to be visible to you and others.
Working in the office does not have to feel like a disappointment. Nor does it need to be a distraction. Understanding the nature of your work tasks-- and carefully planning accordingly-- gives your focus more impact and lets you make better use of your time.
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your work productivity.
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About the author
Rama Eriksson is a Digital Content Editor at findcourses.co.uk. Her writing is complemented by 15+ years as an international marketing professional. She brings her experience and curiosity to connect professionals to the right training to help further their goals. Originally from the New York area, Rama has lived in Stockholm, Sweden since 2010.