Over the last few years, remote working has become increasingly popular, especially in light of the pandemic. According to Gallup, hybrid working increased by 49% in 2022, with 30% of all employees being fully remote. This figure is expected to grow further as remote work becomes more popular with companies aiming to save money on office space.
However, this new way of working has brought productivity challenges – even for the most laser-focused people. On the one hand, remote working offers greater flexibility and eliminates commuting time, office noise, noisy co-workers, and overall workplace distractions.
On the other hand, it can also be challenging to maintain or increase productivity when working from home, where certain distractions are harder to ignore. Perhaps that’s social media or your full laundry basket…
How do you balance the two? Read on to find out some of the most common themes of remote work and how you can save time by improving your work-from-home (WFH) setup.
Table of Contents
Set up a Workspace
When you create a dedicated workspace, you create a physical boundary between your personal and work life. This boundary can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, essential for productivity and overall well-being, and create a designated space to get into the right mindset for work, helping you stay focused and productive throughout the day.
Most importantly, this setup needs to be ergonomic, promoting good posture and visual and physical comfort. Research shows that, when this is done correctly, workers gain a 25% boost in productivity and a reduction of up to 60% of risks associated with poor posture. For the optimal home workspace setup, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Choose a quiet, private area in your home to avoid disturbances.
- Invest in a comfortable chair that supports good posture.
- Use a desk that is at the right height for you, keeping your elbows at 90-degree angles.
- Set up your workspace near a window with enough lighting to reduce eye strain.
- Organise your workspace with everything it needs, keeping your supplies within arm’s reach to save time and not have to interrupt workflow.
- Plants or other natural elements create a calming and productive atmosphere and add a personal touch.
Establish a Routine
When you work in an office, you follow a set routine. You wake up, commute to work, work for a set period, and then return home. But when you work from home, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and personal life. You might work late into the night or get distracted by household chores during your work hours.
A routine provides structure and clarity and allows you to set clear boundaries between work and personal life. While consistency is key, always allow some room for flexibility when the time calls for it. You could choose an accountability buddy to keep your motivation levels high and ensure you stick to your routine.
Here are the crucial elements of a successful WFH routine:
- Wake up at the same time daily and carry out a habitual morning routine.
- Set a start and end time for your workday and stick to it as much as possible.
- Take breaks throughout the day to recharge and maintain focus.
- Schedule regular exercise or movement breaks throughout the day.
- Plan your day the night before, prioritising the most critical tasks.
Time spent taking breaks is crucial for productivity levels and mental health, especially when working from home. The human brain isn’t designed to work non-stop for extended periods; it requires regular rest to function at its best.
A lack of breaks can lead to burnout, decreased ability to focus, and low productivity. The simple act of taking a short break everyone now and again can also help to maintain mental well-being by reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and enhancing creativity.
Here are some tips for taking breaks when working from home:
- Schedule breaks: Plan your workday and schedule for short 5-10 minute breaks now and again. The tried and tested Pomodoro Technique could be a good place to start.
- Step away from the computer: Eye strain, physical tension, and brain fog are common side effects of too much screen time. When taking a break, ensure it’s not from the monitor to the mobile phone.
- Incorporate movement and exercise: Simple stretches, taking a yoga break, going for a quick walk or run, or doing a few jumping jacks can help get your blood flowing and improve your mental state.
- Get outside: Whether it’s a nearby park, garden, or forest, research has shown that spending precious time in nature and getting fresh air can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function.
If you struggle to incorporate movement or exercise into your workday from home, consider scheduling exercise the same way you’d plan breaks. Take advantage of your surroundings by walking around the block or finding some green space nearby to clear your head.
Distractions affect productivity and are a significant challenge for remote workers. A Joblist survey found that 53.5% of remote workers face several distractions, the biggest being watching TV (16.6%), cooking (14.5%), and running errands (14.3%).
The constant barrage of push notifications, answering emails, phone calls, background noise, and social media updates can also derail focus and productivity, leading to frustration and burnout.
Understanding how distraction hurts productivity and implementing effective strategies to minimise it is essential. To get started, here are some tips for avoiding common distractions:
1. Communicate Your Work Schedule
Let your family members, roommates, or pets know when you’ll be working and when you’ll be available for socialising or attending to their needs. This will help them understand when they can expect your attention and when they should refrain from interrupting you.
2. Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Noise canceling headphones can be a great tool for reducing a noisy environment and boosting productivity. They can help block out background noise, such as barking dogs, loud music, phone calls from others, or TV shows, allowing you to focus on and deliver higher-quality work.
3. Use Website or App Blockers
Many tools, like AppBlock, can help you limit your access to time-wasting websites or social media during work hours, saving time and helping you stay focused. You can also put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode to stop notifications and create a quiet work environment.
4. Create a Clutter-Free Workspace
A clean and clutter-free desk can help reduce common workplace distractions, making it easier to focus on your work and boost productivity. Ensure your workspace is well-organised and free of unnecessary items that distract you from your work.
Focus and Connect with Co-Workers
When working from home, it can be challenging to maintain the same level of interaction with co-workers in the office. Collaboration and teamwork are essential components of many jobs, requiring communication and interaction.
The small, daily interactions you have with colleagues provide a sense of connection, community, and belonging; without them, you can feel isolated or disconnected, which could negatively impact your productivity. However, technology has made it possible to collaborate remotely, and you must take advantage of it. Here are a few tips that can help you.
1. Schedule Regular Video Calls
These meetings provide an opportunity to connect face-to-face, share updates on work tasks, and collaborate on projects. They also help maintain relationships between coworkers and keep people feeling motivated as part of a team working towards a common goal!
2. Use Instant Messaging
Tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams allow for quick and easy communication, much like walking up to a co worker’s desk in the office. They also provide a sense of connection and collaboration, even when working remotely.
3. Virtual Team-Building Activities
These team-building events are a great way to maintain a sense of community and camaraderie – even when working remotely. They can include virtual coffee breaks, team-building exercises, and after-work social events.
4. Reach Out For Support
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own when working remotely which can prompt disengagement and make you more susceptible to external distractions. Reaching out to co-workers can help build connections and generate support when needed. This helps you maintain relationships, feel more connected to your co-workers and boost productivity.
Factorial’s Time Management Tools
Time management tools offer a variety of features, such as time tracking by project and automated task workflows, to help people manage their time effectively and minimise the impact of workplace distractions.
These tools also allow you to break down large projects into smaller tasks, define your time limit within your working week, and allow you to apply complete focus where needed. With clear deadlines and priorities visible from each employee’s dashboard, staff will have a clearer view of tasks to prioritise making them less susceptible to common distractions.
Factorial’s time-tracking tool can create custom reports on hours worked and track working hours so that project managers can gain insights into productivity levels and better understand the impact of factors such as workplace distractions.
See how it works for yourself with a free 14 day trial!