Home is where the heart is. However, when you’re a virtual worker, it can also be the source of multiple distractions. From the flat screen TV, to the backyard hammock to the beckoning pile of laundry that’s not going to do itself, a virtual worker can sometimes feel their attention drifting to something other than a looming project deadline. Also, though many take comfort in the privacy a home offers, too much time spent away from the company of others is enough to drive some people up the wall. Working from home can be a tricky business but there many effective ways you can boost your productivity and conquer feelings of loneliness when your house is also your office.
First off, did you know that is possible for workers to be more productive when working from home? It’s true: recently, Brown University conducted an experiment on home working, involving 13 000 employees of a NASDAQ listed Chinese firm. Call centre employees who volunteered to work from home alternatively worked from either their home or the office over the course of 9 months. In the end, the study found that home workers experienced a 12% increase in performance. 8.5% of this increase came from working more minutes per shift and 3.5% of this increase came from higher performance per minute. Sometimes, the home can be a more effective work environment than the traditional office place.
But what about those who are intimidated by the prospect of working from home, in the face of countless distractions and those that struggle with the lack of co-worker interaction? Luckily, I have a whole range of tips to help you become an effective home worker:
1. Delineate a Workspace:
It’s advisable to transform one room of your home into a space that is purely dedicated to work. Working in another room of your home that already has a specific purpose, such as the living room or bedroom, can quickly zap your motivation because you automatically associate these rooms with entertainment or relaxation. Entering a room that has been specifically designed to be a workplace will get you into the right mindset when it comes time to buckle down and tackle those assignments.
2. Impose Time Limits on Tasks:
It’s much easier to become distracted from your work when it is particularly dull or difficult. If you feel yourself losing focus when dealing with this kind of work, tell yourself to work through it for 15 more minutes. Perhaps knowing that you are working toward a deadline will provide you with the extra burst of energy you need to get the job done. If, after the 15 minute mark, you still find yourself unable to focus, take a break or switch to another task to give yourself some mental relief.
3. Set Strict Deadlines:
Have you ever experienced that sudden increase in productivity when you are working on a tight deadline while a simpler task may take a few hours to complete? Many attribute this phenomenon to Parkinson’s Law, which states that a task will expand to fill the time you can give it. Avoid this time sucking law by assigning your own deadlines to specific tasks to ensure they are accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.
4. Conduct a Time Audit:
To get a better sense of your work rhythm and use of time, conduct an audit of your day every so often. Make a detailed record of what you did during the day and how long each task took. These audits can reveal much about your daily workflow and you can make adjustments if you need to. Create Tasks Lists: Create two lists of tasks; one that outlines long term goals, and one that includes a detailed outline of the day’s tasks. Keep these lists as realistic and uncluttered as possible. Nothing can zap your energy faster than glancing at a complicated list full of ambitious tasks that are not likely to easily be completed any time soon.
5. When Feeling Isolated, Reach Out:
If you ever feel lonely, pick up the phone and have a conversation with a colleague. This tactic can accomplish two goals at once: it provides you with a connection to the outside world and you can also ask your colleague for advice about a particularly challenging assignment, boosting your productivity when you get around to tackling the assignment once more.
Working from home comes with a unique set of challenges. The ability to remain motivated and focused on work can easily wane in the comfort of one’s home, where the list of distractions is too long to print. Also, the lack of human interaction is a difficult obstacle to overcome for many home workers, but these strategies can turn anyone into a focused, dedicated virtual employee in no time. Set realistic goals for yourself and make the effort to stick to them. Most importantly, know that your colleagues are always a phone or Skype call away.
Give us you feedback-what your greatest challenge when you work from home?