When the Coronavirus pandemic began, millions of workers shifted their workplaces from the traditional office space to their homes. Several months later, many are still working remotely and will likely continue doing so for quite some time. Consequently, many struggle with retaining their productivity when working from home.
Potential distractions such as noisy kids, construction or barking dogs negatively impact working from home productivity. As a result, creating an ideal working environment and keeping a positive attitude can make all the difference.
Dedicate a Specific Area of the Home as Workspace
People who have an extra room available in their home can easily convert it into an office. This also gives them the benefit of closing the door when the comings and goings of other family members make it difficult to concentrate.
Work-at-home employees who don’t have a separate room available will need to make creative use of the space they do have. For example, they might opt to sit at the kitchen table after everyone finishes with meals or dedicate a portion of a long hallway to work. The important thing is to claim the space and use it each day for the same purpose. This will help to develop new work habits.
Eliminate Background Noise to Decrease Distractions
Background noise has long been understood to have a detrimental effect on concentration and productivity in the workplace. Consider a study published in the British Journal of Psychology in which workers were asked to perform tasks related to memory recall and math. The study found the accuracy of work reduced by 67% among workers exposed to recordings of general office noise.
Additional studies published in peer-reviewed professional journals show the impact on office productivity following the improvement of acoustical conditions. While these studies were conducted to simulate open office environments, home offices can feature as much, if not more, noise:
– The ability of office workers to focus on their tasks improved by 48%
– Performance of standard “information-worker” tasks (measured in terms of accuracy and short-term memory) improved by 10%
– “Conversational distractions” decreased by 51%
– When measured in terms of the actual physical symptoms of stress, stress was reduced by 27%
IQbuds2 MAX for Better Working from Home Productivity
Noise is clearly a factor when measuring working from home productivity. As a result, finding the right headset or earbuds for work that can control noise is highly advisable.
Earplugs can help to muffle sound but don’t eliminate it. Over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones are effective, but are also bulky and have to be removed to resume conversation. A more effective solution is the new IQbuds2 MAX earbuds from Nuheara. With best-in-class active noise cancellation, users can shut off the outside world when needed. But with the tap of the ear, users can turn outside world noise back on to initiate conversations or regain situational awareness.
Other features useful to the at-home worker include:
- Tap touch controls to play/pause music, take/end phone calls, initiate voice assistants on paired smartphone devices, and more.
- Bluetooth 5.0 connection to connect directly with smartphones or laptop/desktop computers when joining Zoom calls or other virtual meetings.
- Speech in noise control (SINC) technology that enables the user to selectively control outside world noise and blend it with digital audio from a paired smartphone or computer.
Create a Schedule and Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
Working from home provides greater flexibility in the daily schedule, but it’s important not to abuse this privilege and to stick to the same schedule as much as possible. Adapting to the new environment becomes easier when people know they are going to sit down at their desk during certain hours. Including breaks and a lunch hour in that schedule is equally important. If the weather permits, getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine each day can give employees the energy they need to be even more productive.
Creating a daily and weekly to-do list can also help keep people working from home feel motivated. Without anyone physically present to keep them on task, employees need to hold themselves accountable for completing tasks on time. Staying motivated can seem challenging at first with so many distractions competing for their attention but sticking to a regular schedule can help people become disciplined much faster.
Make an Emotional Separation from Work at the End of the Day
Maintaining balance with their personal life can be a huge challenge for people working from home. After all, work and home now share the same physical space. While the pull to check emails or login to view a report can be strong, it’s important to resist the temptation before the line between work and home blurs entirely. When the end of the workday comes, at-home employees need to mentally clock out and shift their mindset to being home. This also holds true for weekends. Except for emergencies, work should sit untouched until Monday morning to give employees the chance to recharge.
Connect with Friends Who Also Work at Home
People tend to get a clearer idea of whether they are an introvert or an extrovert when they begin working from home. Those who do most of their processing internally will likely welcome the chance to work without interruptions from co-workers. Working from home alone can be harder on more outgoing individuals. In either case, it’s important to connect with others during the day about matters unrelated to work if possible. A quick text or 5-minute phone call might be all it takes to renew that sense of human connection that both introverts and extroverts need, just in different ways.
Working at home might not have been the first choice for some people, but it appears the trend is here to stay and will only increase. The tips and technology above make it possible to achieve levels of working from home productivity that equal or even surpass office productivity. Some may find that they adjust to it so well that they have no desire to return to the traditional office arrangement when or if that opportunity comes.