By Kwan Cheung
The advancement of technology has allowed us to work from the comfort (and nuisance) of our homes, which would have seemed impossible just a few decades before. But how do you stay sane when both working and living within the same four walls?
Various studies have shown that working remotely increases productivity compared to working from the office. And it’s very desirable; along with flexible working, it’s often listed among the most attractive perks by job seekers. However, in spite of the much-touted benefits of home working, performing work duties from home does also come with its own associated issues too. So what are the most common problems faced by homeworkers?
“I feel like I’m always being distracted at home by family/pets/friends/visitors.”
This is a common grumble from home workers. There is still a perception that when someone is working from home, they are not really working at all and it’s akin to a ‘duvet day’. Other people at home may think that because you are at home, you are actually free and available at their beck and call. They might ask you to help out with household chores (seeing as ‘you’re at home anyway’) or invite you for a boozy 2 hour lunch. Not a great boost to productivity.
To resolve this, you need set them straight; you need to explain clearly that when you’re working from home, you are actually working. Would they phone you and ask the same of you if you were working from the office? No? Then they shouldn’t do it just because you’ve based yourself at home. If they still don’t understand after you explicitly tell them, you may want to create a home office or put up a ‘do not disturb’ sign and work in a separate room.
“I find it hard to balance my work commitments and personal commitments.”
Ah, the perpetual struggle. Remote working was designed to create a more harmonious work life balance, however, sometimes it feels as though life is more unbalanced than ever; work commitments have become increasingly more demanding while time has become a decreasingly available commodity.
Working from home allows you to save time by not needing to commute back and forth each day or working in your pyjamas occasionally. However, if you’re struggling with balancing work with chores, it might mean multi-tasking isn’t the best approach for you. You might benefit from a more regimental approach to your working day. Although you no longer work from a traditional office, you could still adopt more traditional hours. By setting a strict start and finish time, it makes it much easier for you to draw a line between ‘work’ and ‘home’. Concentrate on work-based tasks during your core working hours and then perform your other errands when you finish. This might not be possible for certain jobs and workers, depending on the demands and nature of work.
“I feel lonely at home all day. I have no-one to speak to.”
This is another common problem often cited by remote workers. Working from home can be very isolating, particularly everyone else in the house is at work or school during the day. It’s worse still, if you live alone; you might go a whole day or two without speaking to anyone else. Aside from the emotional strain, over time, loneliness can cause serious physical ailments such as heart disease, arthritis and dementia.
So, we need to make time to see other people. There are many benefits to socialising, from mental to physical to spiritual. Regular face-to-face social interaction can reduce risk of depression. If you don’t see people as part of your usual working day, make sure you pre-book appointments to do so. This might mean scheduling lunch with friends or a skype call with a family member. It needn’t only be recreational either; try meeting clients or colleagues face-to-face occasionally rather than communicating via email or phone. If you know you’re not going to be able to speak to someone on a particular day, make an effort to visit your local shop or post office. Even micro-interactions with strangers can positively boost our moods.
Alternatively, if you’re not a people-person perhaps you could get a feline friend or canine companion, which can help improve calmness and prevent depression.
“When I work at home, I feel like I can’t get away from work.”
By working from home, sharing your home environment with your working one, you blur the lines between work and play. You can either try to set some core work hours as mentioned above, or you could try creating a physical workspace within your home to create a boundary between your work and home life. Some people find they work better actually leaving the home and working in a coffee shop or hiring workspace, just so that they’re not working in their home environment. Try experimenting and finding a place outside the home; did it feel more productive, were you more relaxed when you finished work for the day?
Counting Your Blessings
Although working from home has it’s own niggles, for many people it has been a fantastic innovation to improve their work life balance. If you may have found it difficult to adapt to working from home, hopefully some of the solutions outlined here will help you to find a better way of working more productively. It’s also important to remember to appreciate your situation; many office-bound workers are still envious of home-workers and their benefits which include; reduced workplace stress, greater control, avoidance of office politics and no daily commute.
Nevertheless, just as office-working isn’t suited to everyone, neither is home-working. If you’re someone who likes to keep their work life very much separate from their home life, you may fare better hiring office space outside of your home. More and more co-working spaces are popping up in most major cities globally and give the ability to work in a collaborative space with others as part of a small community (thereby reducing social isolation) and allows for the familiarity of leaving your home in the morning and returning home when you finish.
If you’d like to explore the opportunity of working from home instead of commuting to the office, why not become a Vario? Get in touch.