Before the Coronavirus pandemic, a 2019 LinkedIn survey showed that 82% of new hires wanted to work at least one day a week from home and 57% said they’d ideally like to work from home three days a week.
These numbers are now also supported by an Australian study conducted by Boston Consulting Group in June 2020, where between 41 and 60 per cent surveyed (for those who can work from home), revealed a preference that sees them doing two or three days a week from home. The difference in preferences reflected 'age and stage' of respondents, with participants over the age of 60 years preferring to work from home most days.
Over recent years online connectivity has dramatically improved, and now working from home is a realistic and practical alternative. Everyone can benefit, but it’s not all plain sailing…here are some tips on how to be more efficient.
Set and maintain reasonable boundaries
While working from home (WFH) provides flexibility, you do need to work with your family or housemates to set reasonable boundaries around noise and interruptions. This means identifying a dedicated space you can work from without interruptions.
Now this can be hard of you’re working from the kitchen table so perhaps identifying times when others can use the kitchen is more helpful. That way you can hopefully plan your day around it.
If you have been working from home for a while, you may want to take this opportunity to review how your arrangements are working for both you and others as often boundaries get blurred over long periods of time.
Give tasks your full attention
Even though we now know that multi-tasking only stalls our focus and productivity, many people still do it. Studies prove that when we try to do too many things, we overload our frontal cortex. This means we feel scattered and can make silly mistakes. Mistakes that could lead us to do work more due to the need for re-work or impact or reputation with colleagues and clients. Often multi-tasking seems like a good option when we have lots to do and not enough time.
Set aside realistic timeframes for tasks
Give yourself enough time to complete the task from beginning to end, as much as practically possible. Take into account how much energy it will require and decide when the best time in the day would be to complete that task, based on your work environment and energy levels. Leave tasks that are simple for when your energy is lower and complex tasks for when your energy is highest.
Ensure that your work environment is calm, comfortable and distraction free. For wherever you like to work, make sure that you are wearing suitable, comfortable clothing, and that the space you're working in is a temperature conducive to work. I like 19 degrees in my office. I find the cooler temperature keeps me alert and helps me to focus on my tasks.
Focus on the process
While you are working towards an end result (goal), it is essential for more complex tasks that you focus on the process itself. By focusing on the process you are removing expectations and potentially restrictive thought patterns which could stifle your creativity and problem-solving skills. Leave judging to the end.
Manage your Emotions
While it may not be possible to be optimistic all of the time, adopting an optimistic perspective will support your ability to engage more fully in what you are doing.
Negative emotions will only hamper your ability to get into and remain within the flow state. If strong emotions do arise in the course of your work (positive or negative), move through them as quickly as you can so they don’t derail you in getting what needs to be done, done.
Just like working in an office, you are going to have very productive days and not-so productive days. Whichever kind of day you’re having, take the time to reflect on what may have contributed to it and ask yourself, how you could avoid that happening again (in the case of a not so productive day), or, how to encourage more of it, in the case of a productive day. There are always clues if you take the time to reflect and notice.