Remote working is on the rise: thanks to advances in collaborative communication technology and ubiquitous internet access, teleworking has become an accepted practice in offices around the globe. Our workforce is increasingly mobile, collaborative and dynamic, spanning multiple industries, bringing with it increased employee satisfaction – but also an abundance of distractions.
One of the most noteworthy (and charming) examples of the latter can be seen in 2017’s viral video of Professor Robert Kelly as he was being interviewed live on BBC News about South Korea. Despite the unexpected arrival of his chatty daughter and baby son in a wheelie chair (followed by his wife, who scrambled to corral the kids and herd them out of the room), Kelly managed to keep his composure and complete the interview successfully.
Granted, not all of us have to deal with interruptions on such a grand scale, but how can we keep our cool when working from home when kids, pets, neighbors, and personal chores keep distracting us? How can we stay focused and keep our home lives from encroaching on our professional time?
Here are three pro tips to help you.
Set up a dedicated work space
Once you’re in that space, determine that only work-related activities will happen there. If family members are at home during the day, ask them to treat that area as they would an office. That means that while you’re there, you’re not available.
Equip your work space with as spacious a desk as possible and add a comfortable office-type chair. Keep your desk and all the equipment you need for your work neat and orderly to foster productivity. Whatever you do, don’t try to make the couch your work space! Working on a couch (or worse, a bed!) isn’t good for your body (or your computer) – and both tend to lead to impromptu naps.
If there are young children at home (assuming that that you’re not the one caring for them!), work in a room with a door that locks. From the inside. (Professor Kelly forgot to lock his door that fateful day in 2017.)
Lose the pajamas or the sweatpants!
Sure, being able to wear comfortable clothes is one of the perks of working from home. But the clothes you wear have an impact on your work performance and productivity. When you wear sweats or pajamas, it can feel like you’re not really working, leaving you more open to distractions.
According to Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, which clothes you choose may be more important than you think: “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
Make a point of getting dressed every day, just as if you were going to the office. Your clothing can give a real boost to your productivity and motivation.
Stick to your regular office schedule
Keeping regular office hours is important for remote workers, as there’s often a tendency to work longer hours out of a vague sense of guilt – as if working from home is some variation of a vacation day. (It’s not.) You’re probably part of a team, so you should keep the same office hours as everyone else on your team. And even if you’re not part of an office team, keeping regular office hours will set your body clock to the routine of a work schedule, which is the best way to squeeze every ounce of productivity from your day.
It’s up to you to make your work-from-home days just as productive as the days you spend at the office (maybe even more so). You might even bring the self-discipline skills you gain from working at home back with you to the workplace, making your in-office time more productive too.
Discover, for example, what Professor Robert Kelly took away from his experience!