The pandemic forced companies worldwide to close their offices and ask their employees to work from home. This trend is continuing, with some companies choosing to permanently downsize their office footprints and accommodate staff who wish to continue being home-based, at least part of the time.
While working from home has its advantages, it can pose challenges for employees who have been used to an office-based environment. This article looks at some of the potential pitfalls of hybrid working or working exclusively from home, as well as offers some guidance for staying productive throughout the workday.
Creating the right working environment
One of the problems that arose when companies first asked their employees to work from home at the start of the pandemic was that many people simply did not have a suitable office set-up in their apartment or house. From a basic lack of space for a desk to noisy households where a productive workday was impossible, employees were faced with making ad hoc arrangements and getting by the best they could on a temporary basis.
If you’re transitioning to a work-from-home arrangement, it is important to consider how that will work in practice. This starts with defining a dedicated workspace. The ideal set-up is a spare room in which you can create a home office. However, if this isn’t an option, choose a quiet space where you can minimize distractions during the workday, if possible, one with natural light and ventilation. It’s also important to purchase a good quality desk and ergonomic desk chair so you avoid developing work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and strains.
Choosing the right equipment
Related to the topic of creating the right working environment, a further element that can help or hinder your work-from-home productivity is office equipment. If you’re used to an office-based environment, you might also be used to having access to high-quality company equipment, with connections to internal systems and an IT department on hand to help with any issues. Transitioning to home working might mean you assume some or all the burden of acquiring, setting up, and maintaining your office equipment.
Depending on your job, your employer may supply you with office equipment or a budget to purchase it for yourself, plus help in getting everything installed. However, if you’re purchasing your own, make a list of all your requirements and buy the most up-to-date equipment you can afford to ensure compatibility with your work-based apps and programs.
While it may be tempting to save money on office equipment, it is crucial to have the optimal home set-up, with a reliable broadband connection and a computer that offers all the functionality you need to be productive, whether that’s the capacity to hold Zoom meetings, work on complex documents, or prepare presentations. Security is also important, especially if your work involves accessing sensitive information or in-company systems. For more details on 11th Gen Intel Lenovo Desktops, click here.
Maintaining a work-life balance
If you’re used to an office environment, a challenge when moving to home-based working is to maintain a separation between home time and work time. While some office-based employees struggle to achieve a work-life balance, when you go to the office each day, that separation is easier to establish as you physically leave the house. However, with home working, that boundary is removed. This can pose two problems. The first is that it can be hard to remain focused on your work when you have the distractions of home all around: children, pets, television, and hobbies, etc. The second problem is that it can be hard to switch off from work. As a result, your working time can seep into your downtime, such as answering emails in the evening, logging on at the weekends, and working through lunch.
To help maintain a healthy work-life balance when working from home, it is a good idea to set your own boundaries. Even if your employer offers flexibility in your hours, set a time to start each day, a regular break pattern, and a finish time. During your work hours, adopt a no-tolerance approach to distractions. Likewise, when you clock off for the day or for the weekend, shut down the computer, leave your home office space and enjoy your free time.
Staying in touch with peers and colleagues
The practicalities of working from home are important, but so are the social aspects. Work-from-home employees can find they miss such things as regular in-person team meetings, casual workplace interactions, and enjoying a drink with colleagues after work. If you find that the isolation of homeworking is having a negative impact on your productivity, there are steps you can take to improve the situation. For example, you could spend time with other people during your work breaks, even sitting in the park or going to a coffee shop. Another option is to arrange an out-of-work meet-up with colleagues in person or online.
Ultimately, the reality is that working from home is not for everyone. Even with a professional at-home office set-up, some employees simply work better surrounded by colleagues within the structure of an office setting. While it can be tempting to get swept up in the work-from-home trend, if it’s not for you, be honest with yourself and your employer. If returning to the office full-time is not possible, maybe a hybrid set-up where you go into the office for a day or two a week might work. Another alternative is to explore co-working. Renting a flexible desk in a larger office shared with freelancers and staff from other companies might offer some respite from the solitude of working from home if only for a day or two a month.
Overall, if you’re an office-based employee, working from home might appear to offer the ideal set-up. After all, it means you can avoid the dreaded daily commute while enjoying the comforts of home and, depending on your job, benefiting from a little more flexibility in your working schedule. This article has highlighted that even though it’s not without potential downsides, with some planning, you can remain productive and make the most of a work-from-home arrangement.