Are you concerned about whether remote working is providing the expected results? While employees everywhere are quickly adjusting to remote work, concerns about its drawbacks are slowly emerging. Let’s see what’s going wrong and what we can do about it.
Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, told Recode in October 2019 (before the pandemic) that 70% of workers would be working remotely at least five days per month by 2025. Unfortunately, the World Economic Forum reports that remote work might negatively affect employees’ mental health.
Mental health is finally gaining importance in the corporate world, with organizations realizing how much the mental health of their employees affects their performance. Here’s what seems to be going wrong with work from home.
The Worries of Work from Home
1. Workspace or Sleep Space?
The work from home routine has blurred the lines between the workspace and the sleep space. Many employees end up working longer hours at home, finding it difficult to disconnect when the day ends and even ending up with insomnia.
2. Isolated Workers and Detachment
When people work from home for a long time, they tend to feel isolated due to the absence of social contact. For example, during group discussions, the person working from home misses the gestures that are so important in communication.
3. Feedback That Takes Forever
When employees work from home, the feedback process becomes long and tedious through electronic communication. When employees are at the office, they can receive direct, face-to-face feedback, ensuring clarity and speed.
4. Daily Distractions
The home is not always a quiet space; it can be noisy, with mischievous toddlers, boisterous pets, blaring television sets and — worst of all — a bad internet connection. All these little things can become huge distractions for the employee working from home.
Are We Really More Productive at Home?
There seems to be no clear answer, since several factors may be involved. For example, a single person may find working from home to be convenient, while her married colleague may find it distracting, as he has to make time for his family, too.
In a Brandon Hall survey, “Respondents noted a variety of reasons for a loss of efficiency among remote workers: 60% responded that it was because of distractions at home, 52% said it was stress and anxiety, and 49% identified managers’ inexperience in managing remote workers as the root cause.”
Inevitably, there are both positives and negatives to working from home. What is important now is to embrace the new normal and focus on finding solutions.
Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Working From Home
1. Migrate to a Workstation
To ensure balance between work and sleep, make sure your workspace and sleep space are separate. Work at a desk or table away from your bed. Here are some tips to make your work station pleasant:
- Keep a potted plant at your desk.
- Organize your files, notes and pens and keep them easily accessible.
- Make sure your seat is comfortable.
- Use blue light filtering on your computer and mobile device to protect your eyes.
2. Keep in Touch With Your Co-workers
Spending time with your colleagues reduces work pressure and stress levels. Colleagues keep you motivated by providing constant feedback and engaging in discussions. Here are a few ways to keep in touch with your colleagues virtually:
- Have short group video calls from time to time, either for casual conversations or discussions about important topics.
- A quick group voice call can brighten up everyone’s mood and give you some much needed motivation to get through the week.
- Group learning activities (e.g., game-based learning, quizzes and puzzles) foster friendly competition among your team.
3. Have a Mindset Makeover
As Karen Mangia, a member of Salesforce’s work from home task force, says, work is a thing you do, not a place you go. The sooner we realize this reality, the better. We have to change our mindset and start accepting remote working.
We also need to learn to be more flexible. Everything does not have to be perfect. We need respect and understanding, encouragement, and support to overcome the pandemic together.
4. Create a Routine, and Stick With It
Setting a routine and planning for deadlines will help you complete your work on time. You can also create routines for other activities. Stay fit by working out, write in a journal or take your dog for a walk (don’t forget your mask!). Eat healthy as much as possible (but it’s OK to have cheat days!). Have a bedtime ritual or routine that calms you down and helps you fall asleep. Stay busy, but remember to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Another way of supporting productivity is to take off those pajamas and wear something else — not necessarily something formal, but something different to work in
The world is changing and impacting our daily lives. The pandemic has birthed a “new normal.” This new normal encourages us to build a unique work environment, at home. Creating a comfortable workspace with minimal distractions and a solid routine is the trick to making the most of remote work.