The Covid-19 pandemic introduced us to a whole new way of working - remote working. Working from home is awesome, right? Well, that depends - when the cat throws up on your computer or your neighbours invite builders in to make a racket outside for the whole day, then it’s not so great.. But which environment actually allows us to be more productive: the home office or the office office?
In the office office, your colleagues definitely pose the greatest threat to keeping you from getting some real, heads-down work done. They drop by your desk, engage you in conversation, and invite you to lunch. Next thing you know it's 4pm and you have a whole day's worth of work to get through before you finish up at 6pm. Sure, the social benefits are nice to have, but they can become a challenge if you're easily distracted (like us!)
However, at the home office, family members can be a distraction. I find that it's easy for you to become your own worst enemy. Without coworkers around, you get the opportunity to drop those pesky inhibitions, however in the home office, no one's watching you. You don't necessarily feel that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done. Below are some tips to help you be more productive when working from home.
Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you
While you might not have the distraction that your office coworkers provide, you might still have "company." Make sure any roommates or family members present respect your space during work hours. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're free for a chat.
Take clear breaks
It can be so easy to get distracted when working from home that you avoid breaks altogether. Don't let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in prevent you from taking five minutes to relax. Be sure to use your breaks to get away from your desk, try going for a walk and enjoy some fresh air, or spend time with others who might also be in the house to get some social interaction.
Interact with other humans
When working from home you'll likely miss the casual social interactions with colleagues throughout the day, you don't have the small talk and other activities that make each day at the office unique. Remember: you're working from home, not the moon. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they're not your colleagues. It’s a good idea to see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary. So, use your breaks to interact with others.
Get started early
When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. At home, however, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be much more difficult. Getting a project started first thing in the morning can be the key to making progress on it gradually throughout the day.
Structure your day like you would in the office
When working from home, you're your own personal manager and sometimes this means you have the opportunity to choose your working hours. While this has many perks, the best of which being additional flexibility, however, without things like in-person meetings to break up your day, you can easily lose focus. To stay on schedule, segment what you'll do and when for the day. Structuring your day as you would in the office also saves you from burn out.
Choose a dedicated workspace
Just because you're not working in the office doesn't mean you can't have an office! Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch in the living room, dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to working remotely. Having a specific area of the home to work can help you stay committed and focused throughout the day.
Pick a definitive finishing time
You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance, but be careful with that assumption. It’s very easy to get caught up in your work tasks, in a relaxing environment, that you lose complete track of time. You’ll miss your coworkers reminding you it’s hometime as they pack up and leave the office, instead, set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal workday is coming to an end. You don't have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the workday is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.