“Working from home is a future-looking technology… I think it has enormous potential.”
- Professor Bloom, Stanford University
Home working is the new future. Coronavirus has been a boon for the growing work-from-home trend, making millions of people into remote workers for the first time almost overnight as companies seek to continue business as best they can. Amid the current global pandemic.
In the article, Home working here to stay, study of businesses suggests, published on the BBC website on the 5th October 2020, the BBC reported that a survey of just under 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors revealed that 74% of firms plan on maintaining the increase in home working. The survey also confirmed that more than half planned on reducing their long-term use of workplaces.
Whilst I totally understand that the world-wide pandemic is currently disruptive and upsetting, I do also think that it brings opportunity - even at the start of the current situation with Coronavirus, I have said that when we come out the other side, we’ll find ourselves in a new age where organisations and the workforce will have honed their home-working skills and utilisation of technology. I believe we’re going to find ourselves in a “new normal”. Surely this will be a good thing in the long run, for everything from work-life balance, opportunities for working parents and the environment.
As Professor Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University, told an audience during TEDx Stanford, way back in April 2017, “Working from home is a future-looking technology…I think it has enormous potential.” I agree.
However, there are growing concerns that it may not be a positive move for workers and productivity. Even Professor Bloom is concerned. Recently, in an interview with Rani Molla published on the Vox web site, Professor Bloom expressed his concern that in the past people were trained for their new role but now they are working from home with no training and no or limited support. He was concerned about the negative impact this would have on people’s productivity and mental health.
In the interview, Professor Bloom said, “People were trained. They were set up, whereas now we’ve just been thrown in. It’s like you join the army, then on day three you’re told you’re going to be parachute-jumping at lunchtime, and you’re given a parachute and thrown out of the plane. No training, no preparation.”
He went on to add, “I worry about an explosion of mental health issues. Because you’re isolating people at home all the time and removing them from social interactions, and that’s going to lead to depression. Depression itself generates — it’s not just mental health but physical health tends to do very badly.”
Speaking to my clients and reading up on this topic, especially when I was researching for my e-book on working from home How To Work From Home: Whilst Staying Productive, Healthy and Sane, I do understand the reservations about working from home and maintaining productivity. However, as someone who has worked from home for years, trust me, when you do it right, you can still be productive when working from home and research even reveals that it can be much more productive than working in an office.
As the BBC reported in the article Coronavirus: How to be happier while working from home, published on the BBC news web site in November 2020, a recent survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects many people said working from home had made them more stressed. In her article, Is Working from Home Here to Stay?, published in the Entrepreneur Magazine web site in January 2021, Nickie Rowley, CEO of Luxurious Web Design, explained why for many people, getting fully acclimated to remote working is a challenge. She writes that many people find working from home difficult because they are find there are more distractions at home. They also find it difficult to know when to stop and find that they are overworking. So what can we do to keep us happier, productive and healthier when we work from home?
This I want to share with you in this blog and explore how you can work from home whilst staying productive, healthy and sane. These tips are especially for those who are new to working from home or are struggling to settle into this new way of working. These are the tips that people I have been speaking to have found particularly helpful, so I hope you do too.
One of the keys to being productive whilst working from home is to have structure and plan your days. In a time when there is so much change and uncertainty, structure is more important than ever. Structure your working day as you would if you were actually going into the office.
For example, structure when your lunch break is, allocate a proper start and finish time and pre-book catch up calls with your colleagues.
To be productive whilst still managing your household and looking after your family will need you to create an optimum work-life balance. The advantage of working from home, for so many of us, is that the expectation (and restriction) that we strictly work a 9 to 5 is going to end. Take advantage of this and make a new normal that will (however temporary or long) work for you, your home and your family. Consult your manager and colleagues to develop flexible working that suits your needs and your company. If it works for you to take a break at 3pm to help your children with their homework for two hours before going back to the laptop for a bit to finish off, then do that if you can.
When you start working from home, you can be lured into thinking that you have no set start time. Working from home is sometimes seen as a luxury working world where you can start whenever you want. Whilst that technically might be true, that attitude won’t help you get things done or work smoothly with your team. Set a time to start work and agree this with your boss and colleagues. Setting and agreeing working hours will also help alleviate the guilt every time you see an email fly into your inbox early in the morning because you’ve agreed what time you’ll log on.
You need to somehow find a way to communicate to your family or housemates when you are working. It might be something as simple as the office door being shut, or a ‘do not disturb’ sign pinned up.
It is especially important to communicate your working schedule to family members who are at home and not working. My semi-retired dad often gets annoyed with my mum as he attempts to work in his makeshift office at the table in the living room whilst she tries to dust around him or keeps interrupting to tell him how good her cooking tastes.
The solution? He lets her know at breakfast what time he is working, what time he is having a break and when he will be finished for the day. By discussing it over breakfast, both my parents can plan their day (and dusting time) to both enjoy an argument-free day.
Taking regular work breaks is crucial for your health and productivity. In any working environment, you shouldn't stay glued to your screen all day. No one can stay focused for eight hours straight. It is essential to take regular breaks in order to remain productive, healthy and sane.
As I explain in my article, Why Pomodoro Technique Increases Your Productivity, it's important to practice the Pomodoro Technique and break down your day’s work into multiple 25-minute work intervals. Each 25-minute pomodoro is then separated by a short 5-minute break. After every four full Pomodoro segments you need to schedule a 30-minute break completely away from your work. It is important to take a screen break, get up from your desk and move around. Take a 5-minute walk, go make a cup of tea or catch up with a loved one quickly on the phone — don’t work yourself to the bone without letting yourself take a break away from screens, meetings and work. Studies have shown that breaks can significantly improve productivity levels and a person’s ability to focus.
If you are interested in how you can use the Pomodoro Technique to help you to be more productive and healthier especially if you are working from home, read my article, Why Pomodoro Technique Increases Your Productivity, to find out more.
For more top tips on how to work from home take a look at my book, How To Work From Home: Whilst Staying Productive, Healthy and Sane.
With many people are working from home for the first time, this book is a practical guide to show you how to work from home, whilst staying productive, healthy and sane. It will show you how to work from home, whilst staying productive, healthy and sane. In informative, easy to read chapters, you will learn how to set up your own dedicated workspace, select the right office equipment and tips for video calling and conferencing. You will also learn the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries inside the home, managing distractions, avoiding procrastination and learn how to establish a routine that suits your lifestyle.
As one reader wrote:
Alice has written an amazing, practical, thought provoking read. It is like she is talking and coaching you through each tip and piece of advice that she has masterfully constructed into a brilliant e-book. I have read many personal development books on this topic, but many authors write lengthy chapters. Alice, however, has put these tips together in a short, snappy and easy to dip in and out of style such that you feel you are improving yourself and moving forward with each one. I fully encourage fellow entrepreneurs and those adjusting to a new normal of working from home to purchase and apply these tips to turbo charge their business.
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This blog is published solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The author and publisher are not offering it as legal, accounting, health care or other professional services advice. While best efforts have been used in preparing this blog, the author and publisher make no representations or warranties of any kind and assume no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be held liable or responsible to any person or entity with respect to any loss or incidental or consequential damages caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained herein. Every person and company are different, and the advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. Alice Dartnell or Alice Dartnell Limited is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised in this blog. You should seek the services of a competent professional as appropriate. You are responsible for your own choices, actions, and results. Always consult your own General Practitioner if you're in any way concerned about your health.