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How to work more productively from home [new research]

How to work more productively from home [new research]

Posted 18th March, 2020 by Sarah

8-minute read

In September 2019, an Aviva study suggested that one in seven workers in the UK were home-based. This week, that number rocketed after the prime minister revealed the government’s action plan for combating Corona virus.

Many of tsoHost’s domain and web hosting customers – from independent web designers and developers to start-up owners – already work from home.

However, if this practice is new to you. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Silence your inner cynic

In many companies the statement ‘I’ll be working from home tomorrow’ raises eyebrows and brings about retorts like ‘Shirking from home more like’.

However, evidence suggests that working from home can significantly increase productivity if done correctly. Here’s a little round-up.

• A two-year study by Stanford University found that home working led to a 13 per cent increase in productivity amongst call centre staff at a major Chinese travel agency.

• International Workplace Group’s Global Workspace Survey 2020 found that 85 per cent of businesses believed productivity had increased as a result of allowing their workers to WFH.

• A 2019 research study by Harvard Business Review found that the work output of examiners from the U.S. Patent & Trade Office increased by 4.4 per cent when workers transitioned to working from home.

• A study of remote workers across a range if industries by Airtasker found that remote employees lost 27 minutes per day to distractions where office workers lost 37 minutes.

Channel Austen and Faulkner

If you’re worried about being distracted by little things like the laundry, that room that needs a hoover, or the next episode of the box set you’re binging, the best thing you can do is set up a dedicated workspace.

Don’t work from the sofa one day, the kitchen table the next, and your bed the day after that. Work from the same area every day, and make working the sole purpose of that area. If you do have a family, explain to them that you’re not to be disturbed when you’re in that area.

Some of the world’s greatest minds worked this way. Jane Austen had as squeaky hinge on the door to the area where she worked, so she’d know the minute someone tried to interrupt her. William Faulkner is said to have taken the knob from the outside of his study door into the room with him when he worked, so no one could get in. Mark Twain, meanwhile, is said to have given his family a horn so they could call him when they needed him, without venturing into his workspace.

Bookend your workday or add a third space to your day

The 2019 State of Remote Work report by Buffer found that 22 per cent of remote workers found it difficult to unplug after work.

With this in mind, it’s important to ‘bookend’ your day. Top tips for bookending include…

• Make a to-do list of the things you didn’t get done each day with the intention of carrying on with them the next day. This should make you less tempted to dip back into your tasks later in the evening, when you’re meant to be clocked off.

• Physically leave work. This means switching off your laptop, closing your notebooks, putting your pens away, and moving away from the area where you have been working.

• Plan an activity after work that requires your attention. Play with the kids, enjoy a cup of tea in a different space to where you work, do some exercise, read a couple of chapters of a book, or start cooking a meal.

In his TEDx talk, peak performance researcher Dr Adam Fraser calls this sort of bookending activity ‘adding a third space’ to your day.

According to the Third Space theory, even taking a moment to ask yourself questions like ‘What was the highlight of today?’ can help you close the mental door on work for the day and open the next one to your more relaxed evening.

Reattach to work every morning

When you work from home, it’s easy to wake up five minutes before your workday is due to start, run a comb through your hair, commute down the stairs and then start work in that post-sleep blur.

However, new research reveals that people are more productive when they ‘reattach’ to work in the mornings.

Reattaching is simple. It simply means taking a few moments in the morning to consider your to-do list and to set some goals for the day.

Taking a shower and getting dressed before work, instead of working in your pyjamas, can also help you set your focus for the day.

Use social media purposefully

The 2019 Buffer study, mentioned above, also found that 19 per cent of remote workers said they struggled with loneliness.

If you’re feeling a little isolated, logging onto social media sites like Facebook or Twitter might feel like the most natural thing to do to reconnect to the outside world.

However, several research studies have indicated that social media can actually have the opposite effect and increase feelings of loneliness.

For example, a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that young people who visited social media sites more than 50 times a week felt three times more socially isolated than those who went online less than nine times a week.

The answer to this problem is to use social media purposefully. Rather than scrolling aimlessly through your feeds, set up chat sessions with your colleagues. Agree to get together on Facebook Messenger or twitter at a certain time and have a chat as if you were in the office kitchen.

If you’re really struggling to avoid dipping into social media sites willy-nilly, you can use a range of apps like Cold Turkey and Focus Me to prevent yourself from accessing the sites at pre-set times of the day.

Categories: COVID-19

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