Throughout the past year our work environment changed dramatically and work from home (WFH), or a home office, became widespread like never before. Let me share with you some – and surely, there are many more – challenges I saw many firms face, as well as having talked to many employees.
At first glance it sounds just great! You don’t need to get up early, you can skip your commute time, you can avoid quick lunches and you can set your own hours to work when you feel like it. Unfortunately, in reality it doesn’t always work that way - it is very difficult to set up and stick to normal business hours. You might have to homeschool your children and so can’t do everything you’d intended to. This means you end up working into the evening or worse still, put off your tasks. Most employees complain about the rigid structure of a regular schedule, but that structure can actually be hugely beneficial.
Some ideas for better time management:
Based on many research studies and also on my own experience, people in home office mode tend to spend more time working than before.
When your personal life and your professional one are under the same roof, it's harder to switch off either one.
How to avoid overworking:
Well, we’ve all faced distracting circumstances while working from home.
These might simply be due to the set-up of our home office: an uncomfortable chair, not enough space for the laptop, etc. It might be a technical issue such as a slow internet, an electricity outage, etc. which are annoying and sometimes difficult to fix. Other disturbing things could be the noise from the neighbour’s house renovation right in the middle of your video presentation, or your partner just using the espresso machine.
At times some disturbances can be funny such as in the middle of your Zoom presentation your cat crawls across your desk in front of the camera, or one of your kids insists you to fix his/her toy asap.
The important thing is to never lose your sense of humour!
In a ‘normal’ work environment human interaction is very important - in some roles it is even crucial.
Social contact is vital and can boost your productivity. You should find those platforms, apps and time to talk about the weekend events or other non-work related events. You could set up time with your colleagues before or after work to chat freely about more personal things.
When working from home, it is possible that you, your workload or the results of your work are only partially visible to your employer or manager. This can easily happen, especially in larger organizations where remote workers are not as recognized or could be the last in line to get a promotion.
Understandably, this sort of low visibility and lack of recognition can be demotivating and possibly limit your performance in the long run.
What to do?
We all have our own ideas of working from home – in many ways this unites us as a shared global experience. The future may well result in us all returning to office based lives, but even if that is the case I feel sure that over the past year we will have learned more about ourselves and our own working practices.