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Overcoming Work-From-Home Pitfalls

Tim Pienkowski, Quantitative Research Associate

With COVID-19 and the shelter in place orders, working from home has become the new norm for most office workers, many of which have spent most, if not all, of their careers in a shared office environment. While this shift may be more difficult for some companies than others, the fact remains that for most individuals, this is a big change.

While working from home may have its benefits (including not commuting and wearing PJs all day), many employees are facing challenges in staying productive at home. Some of these challenges include an increased number of distractions, remote communication, and feeling less motivated.

Here are three ideas to help you overcome these challenges and increase your productivity while working from home.

  1. Manage your time to overcome distractions
    When working in an office, it can be easier to stay on task because you are in a collaborative environment where everyone is focused on work. At home, though, it can be more challenging to stay on task due to a plethora of distractions such as being surrounded by family, children, roommates, pets, and personal belongings.

    To combat these distractions, try keeping a running list of all your tasks for the day. Whether it’s a small task such as responding to a specific email, or a larger, more time-consuming task, write it down before you start and cross it off once you finish. You could think of it like this: imagine if you had to turn in an activity log to your boss detailing everything you accomplished each day – what would you want that log to look like?

    This is a great way to maintain your focus and prevent the day from slipping away while bouncing between half-completed items on your to-do list. And, an added bonus, at the end of the day, you can look back and take pride in everything you’ve accomplished.
     

  2. Over-communicate to overcome collaboration difficulties
    Let’s face it; communicating with coworkers remotely can be challenging. Even with all the communication technology available to us, including instant messaging and video chat tools, it’s not always as easy as having an in-person conversation.

    A simple solution to this challenge? Communicate more. Sharing simple email updates with your team about workloads, project statuses, and even personal tidbits (such as a new recipe you’ve tried, the latest book you’ve read or a video that made you laugh) can go a long way, and also help maintain team morale. And, keeping everyone on the team in the loop often helps collaboration go much more smoothly. 

    Information sharing has never been more important than it is now, with everyone working remotely. By communicating more – or perhaps just differently – than you would in an office environment, you’re setting yourself and your team up for successful collaboration.
     

  3. Adopt a “big picture” mindset to overcome lackluster motivation
    Another challenge many people are facing while working from home during the pandemic is staying motivated. A great way to avoid a lack of motivation, specifically due to a change in the working environment, is to shift your mindset by focusing on the big picture. 

    No matter what your role or title may be, think about how you can contribute to your business’ larger goals and objectives. How can you best support your team, and where do your specific responsibilities fit into this? Adopting this type of “big picture” mentality can spur motivation since it stresses the importance of every task, no matter what it is. 

    Furthermore, if you are focused on the big picture, being proactive becomes second nature. With larger goals in mind, it’s often easier to anticipate the next steps and identify ways you can jump-in and further contribute. 

    Working from home may not be ideal for everyone, but embracing the change and adopting new personal strategies is the best way to overcome potential pitfalls and maintain your productivity.

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