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Many of us were required to work from home during the COVID-19 Pandemic, or remote-based jobs. Working from home can be quite a challenge when you’re used to having your own office, or at the very least a cubicle can be a bit of a challenge. With no designated home office space, many of us had to create make-shift setups in our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.
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Challenging Work Environments
All of a sudden you are in a very different environment that includes your fridge, your washer and dryer, and your TV. With the closure of schools, many parents were forced to attempt productivity while supervising their children. There’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and the carpet could benefit from some vacuuming. In other words, you’re out of your regular work environment, and thus out of your routine and everything you do to stay productive. As a result of these changes, numerous employees have experienced lower work productivity, less motivation, unnecessary stress, and poorer mental health issues.
Sometimes, you find it very hard to stay motivated. Not working alongside a team or having colleagues to interact with can bring a sense of loneliness or boredom.
In this article, you will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of working from home and how to overcome challenges.
Often your surroundings aren’t the only distraction or challenge when you’re trying to get things done from home. People are the other problem. You’ll quickly find out that others don’t respect your time and your workspace when it is right in the middle of your home. Since you are in your own house, it’s not uncommon for loved ones to stop by, pop in, and ask for all sorts of stuff. Of course, this is even worse when you’re trying to work from home with small children around.
To put it another way, you’ll have to learn to deal with internal and external distractions on a completely different level when you start to work from home. Yes, there are also distractions when you’re working in the office. Emails come in, the phone rings, and your boss stops by dropping another project on your desk. At home, you’re dealing with a completely different set of distractions because the lines between work and time off blur. That can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.
10 Tips To Overcome Challenges
- Make your bed and take a shower or bath.
- Get dressed as if you’re actually going to work (casual clothing). It will make you feel so much better.
- Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Use the App Rescuetime to assist you with sticking to your schedule.
- Create a morning routine. Look for an existing habit you have and try to start your work day after it. Whether it is making coffee/tea, going for a walk/run, or dealing with the kids. It helps to be consistent.
- Set some ground rules. If you have kids who are doing online classes, or who come home from school while you’re still working, need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. If you share a space with another adult who’s working from home, you may have to negotiate quiet times, meeting times, and any shared equipment, like desks and chairs.
- Take a break; especially lunch breaks. If you’re used to taking breaks while at the office, continue to take scheduled breaks while working from home. Getting away from the computer screen for a few minutes to get your blood circulating and to give your eyes a break.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request various items you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a few days of realizing you need something new. Such items might include monitors, keyboards, laptops, software, etc.
- Socialize With Colleagues. Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have channels in a Whatsapp group chat or Zoom for video conferences to catch up or actually see each other.
- Take Advantage of Your Perks. Working remotely comes with unique perks. Throw a load of laundry in the washer or start dinner early. Take advantage of them. You deserve it.
- End Your Day With a Routine. Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign-off on a business messaging app, an evening dog walk, or an at-home yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on the news will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.
Take breaks and set beginning and end times can be a challenge. If you don’t, you will become fatigued. The following suggestions may help:
- Set appointments on your calendar for the end of the day to get yourself out of your home office. It can be a gym appointment or go grocery shopping. Talk a slow walk around the block to stretch your legs. Maybe it’s an appointment to read a chapter of the book you’re currently into.
- Similarly, set up reminders to take breaks. I have a recurring daily to-do list item to walk my dog. I set my phone to announce the time every hour, which helps remind me to stretch, grab a bottled water and use the restroom. In Windows, you can use Task Scheduler to set up a similar hourly reminder. Timing your day with Time Management ~ Tips To Help Increase Your Productivity can help as well.
- Create physical boundaries between you and your workspace. The best thing is if you have a dedicated office space, you should close the door. If you don’t have a dedicated office, even something as simple as putting your laptop out of sight when work has ended can help you avoid the temptation to log back on.
Working from home requires self-motivation, and mastering time management. We don’t have others constantly overlooking our work or managing our time for us. While every worker might find it difficult to stick to a schedule and manage their to-dos, it’s especially challenging for remote workers who have flexible days, as well as managers in a different part of the world.
Managing your own work is challenging enough. Then there’s the constant temptation to watch one episode of your favorite show during your work break or tidy up the kitchen when you’re procrastinating on a project. Before long, it’s evening and you have nothing to show for the day.
Productivity is the art of doing what’s most worth your time!Josh Spector
Get the most important work done
- Limit the number of tasks you plan to do each day. Use liquidplanner to avoid unnecessary time-wasting tasks and know which tasks to do next.
- Make a list of things you’re NOT going to today. The more things you vow NOT to spend time on, the better your chances of getting the most important things done.
- Decide when you will take a break. It may seem counterintuitive, but breaks are productive. Research has shown breaks during the day make us more productive, creative, and successful.
Despite the challenges, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to working from home.
Advantages Of Working From Home
Working from home opened up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves. With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, home working has given some employers the flexibility they need to continue their business operations while prioritizing staff and customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility. Some of the advantages of working at home are:
- No daily commute in the mornings. Working from home eliminates the need for a commute to work that can be stressful to your employees. Time savings such as this also enables staff to get extra health benefits such as additional sleep, spending more time with family, exercising, or preparing healthier meals.
- Having the flexibility to work when you want to. It enables more agility and flexibility in working arrangements. With employees no longer tied to an office, they may be better placed and more willing to work flexible hours such as earlier or later in the day or even at weekends. This may help you meet certain business needs eg if you are trading with customers residing in a different time zone.
- No dress code can be a good thing. You get to wear that pair of PJs or sweatpants.
- Increased Productivity. Fewer interruptions. No co-workers debating what to have for lunch. By contrast, working from home allows for a quieter environment that can facilitate more focused work. You may also find that employees will work longer hours as they can also use their time saved from commuting to start work earlier, later, or both.
- Save money on lunch – especially if you work in the city.
- Forget crowds and traffic. No stuffing yourself into a bus or train, having people scuff your new shoes, or walking behind agonizingly slow people who apparently don’t know what a straight line is.
- More time with loved ones. This will allow employees to take care of a sick significant other at home, be ready for your kids earlier in the day, get some extra snuggles in with the pets, or simply get some quality time for yourself. Working from home can feel like a break from the office even though the staff is still working. You will feel more energized and will be able to spend more time with your family and therefore will not feel the need to take as much leave.
Disadvantages Of Working From Home
Working from home can have negative connotations which filter down into our subconscious. You might get criticized for not have a “real” business or making “real” money. If you’re working from your dining room and have trouble focusing, you might start to believe these misconceptions. There are also the disadvantages of:
- Will Power. Need to get jamming on this new project, but Netflix says you still have that last episode to watch.
- Difficulty sticking to a routine. The order you do things at work is almost never the order you do things at home. It can be tough to mirror your schedule and processes once outside the office.
- Some staff may prefer personal interaction with colleagues and also find face-to-face guidance with their manager extremely beneficial in helping them complete tasks and achieve their goals.
- Security risk. Information security problems could be more likely to occur when staff is working from home. There is an increased risk with laptops being taken home and the need for staff to access servers remotely. Employers should ensure they put measures in place to protect company data by installing encryption software and remote-wipe apps if mobile devices provided by you go missing. Virtual private networks also encrypt your data and provide secure access to a remote computer over the internet. This helps keep your files and data secure yet accessible to your staff.
- Boredom. Those office convos? Kinda missing your co-worker pet stories? How long can you go without seeing another living human being?
- No Second Monitor. How did I ever work without two giant screens looming above me??? All 74 of my tabs are essential!
It’s a new process. It’s a new situation. It will take some time to get it right. When you do, your productivity both with your work and around the house will skyrocket, because you are no longer wasting time commuting, waiting around on something to finish or a new report to come in. You can make the most of every minute of your day.
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