Staying productive while working from home

Benjamin Kluwgant · 04 Nov

Choosing to work from home instead of going into the office can have plenty of advantages, but it also comes together with its own set of challenges. Being aware of the pitfalls and taking steps to avoid them can save you from falling into the traps of procrastination and distraction, and help you maximise the benefits of flexible working.

It wasn’t that long ago that if you would have told someone that they could show up to work in casual clothing, bring along their dog and sit at the same table as the company CEO – they’d probably have looked at you like you fell off the moon.

Fast forward to today and workplaces around the world are completely different. In today’s work culture, when people ride their bikes or jog to work, they are then spoilt with shower and changing facilities that are nicer than what they have at home. It is almost an expectation that workplaces will offer wellness activities, flexible working arrangements, high quality coffee and well stocked fridges to their employees.

One of the biggest changes in workplaces around the world has been the attitude towards allowing staff to work remotely.

With the advancement of communication technologies, high-tech workflow management tools, and never ending server storage, employers are giving staff their blessing to work from a location of their choosing every now and again – making the decision to work from home from time to time something that many employees around the world have come to enjoy.

Australians love working from home

Just like the rest of the world, our local workforce here in Australia is big on the whole work from home idea as well.

In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 3.5 million (almost a third of) employed Australians have worked from home, a statistic that really sheds some light on how popular this trend actually is.

In fact, the results of a research study conducted by Indeed blog earlier this year, showed that over two thirds of Australian employers (68 percent) say that they allow their staff to work remotely.

Indeed’s report also showed that working from home has become so important, that two in every five Australian jobseekers prioritise applying for jobs at companies that have a remote work policy, over those that don’t.

 It isn’t all fairies and pixie dust

While the above might indicate that working from home has a whole lot of upside (and Fifth Harmony clearly believes so as well), there are some downsides and risks associated with it as well.

When someone works from home, they become vulnerable to the countless disturbances and distractions that home brings. Between doing the laundry, washing dishes, waiting for deliveries, watching TV on the couch during your lunch break and a quick visit to the grocery store because ‘you’re close by anyway’ – before you know it, the day is up and you have little to show for it.

Working from home can also cause you to be unable to draw the line between work and life and can stop you from giving your time at home the proper attention it needs and deserves.

When you are working from the office, once you turn that computer off and bid your colleagues farewell for the day, it’s much easier to disconnect. But when working from home, the borders between work and life very quickly begin to blur, putting you in the fast lane to burnout.

So, in order to help you avoid the pitfalls of basing yourself at home for the day, we’ve come up with three mantras that, if kept front of mind, can make working from home a whole lot more productive.

1. Be physically at home, but mentally in the office

Distraction and procrastination stem from mindset. When someone is ‘in the zone’, a bulldozer can appear right in front of them and they probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

Getting into the work zone is imperative in order to be productive while working from home. As tempting as it might be to stay in pyjamas, start late and work from the comfort of your couch, those are things that will get you.

If you do things like start early, get dressed for the day and set the spare room up to for work, you might physically be at home, but your heart and mind will be work-ready.

2. Be smart about being flexible

Working from home productively comes down to strategy. For example, if you’re going through a busy and stressful period at work, opting to stay at home will probably cause the stress to linger at home as well – making it difficult to disconnect and increase your susceptibility to burnout.

Save the flexible work days for when your workload is more manageable, and schedule those days meticulously. That way, when the clock strikes five, you’ll be ready to hang up the phone, turn off the computer and transition back into your regular homelife schedule.

3. Enjoy the flexibility, but don’t treat it as annual leave

We’re very lucky to have great laws about taking off work in Australia. Between annual, sick and personal leave, there are plenty of opportunities to take the day off if you have (or want) to.

Choosing to work from home is a way for you to change up the scenery, stay motivated and keep your life under control – but it isn’t a holiday.

If you’ve got a lot going on in your personal life, it might be worthwhile to take the day off as annual leave to sort out those personal affairs. Cramming a full day of work and countless life admin events into one day will negatively impact your work and personal life – defeating the purpose of flexible working entirely.

That said, on the days you do work from home, make sure to enjoy the flexibility. Take your computer to a nearby café or library, write a few emails outside on the porch and soak up the change – it can do wonders for your career.