The world is getting more remote. For many years, we have seen globalisation take over as our old methods of communication and business operation have been usurped by more efficient alternatives. The beginning of 2020 pushed this transition even further, forcing many jobs around the world to be performed remotely. Meetings became video conferences, data moved to the cloud, and our tasks become digitally collaborative. Remote working, it was discovered, is possible. Now, it’s here to stay.
If you’re one of the many employees already working from home, you will know the pros and cons of the situation. Many have the impression that working from home is an easy ride or one that reduces productivity as employees work from their beds or distract themselves with television during working hours. However, studies have shown that the opposite is true. Not only does having control over our own our working hours increase our productivity but employees have been found to start work earlier and finish later.
Those who have been working from home for a longer time, many who run their own businesses from within their residence, may already know these challenges well. They will also know the issues that arise from merging a workspace with a personal one. Switching off at the end of the day when there is a task unfinished can be difficult.
So, how do you make working from home work in your home?
A fundamental is separation. Setting up your computer on the dining room table or working from your bedroom is problematic. While it may be manageable in the short term, after a certain period of time you will begin to feel burned out. Without a distinction between your work life and personal life, they will join together and, as a result, both suffer.
It is important to create your workspace elsewhere. Whether it is behind a closed door, in a spare room, or in the garden shed. To support your productivity and a healthy work presence, this area should be isolated. Many are now building offices in their garden, installing log cabins and annexes as permanent working spaces separate from their home.
Once you have such space, it is important to be disciplined with your time. If you have an email weighing on your mind in the evening, it can be appealing to open your laptop and answer it. However, just because you have access to ‘the office’ within your residence does not mean that you should use it.
Many employees believe that it reflects well on their work ethic to be seen as active or online beyond their required working hours. While the occasional extra task can be appreciated by employers, the potential fatigue may not be. To prevent the need to take time off and maintain your wellbeing, it is important to be strict with your working hours.
Finally, a major disadvantage of remote working that needs to be remedied in order for it to succeed is communication. When you are working in a shared space or office, it is easy to take socialisation and immediate communication for granted. Hidden behind emails and with the struggles of video calls, it doesn’t take long before employees begin to feel lonely or as if they are removed from the team.