Homeworking has been on the rise for a while now. In 2019 around 5% of the workforce primarily worked from home. Today that percentage has more than tripled, with 24% of workers permanently work from home with no visits to the office.
Levels of homeworkers fluctuated between 2020 and 2022 due to the pandemic – at one point being as high as 46.6% of people. This new way of working has inspired many business leaders to change their perspective on remote work, with four out of five bosses allowing their employees to continue working from home. In fact, 79% of leaders plan to implement remote working within their business and a quarter of UK businesses have closed or downsized offices in order to embrace hybrid working. All of the above points to one thing – homeworking is here to stay.
What happens when the novelty wears off?
Employees are keen to work from home to capitalise on flexibility and to save money and time. But the excitement of saving on commuting times and avoiding indulging in a fancy lunch or after-work shopping spree can eventually wear off and a slight case of fatigue can set in, particularly because you’re less likely to move around at home and may find it hard to ‘switch off’ due to your work and home space being combined.
There are simple ways to combat work weariness and reinvigorate yourself whilst still retaining the benefits of working from home. Our top five tips for being productive every day when you’re working from home are:
- Find an environment that you can dedicate to work, or move around to give your brain some variety
- Create a routine that sets you up for the day
- Make the most of your breaks and don’t sit still for too long
- Reach out to colleagues in different ways
- Stay self-aware and practice self-care
Your environment matters
Think of your environment like your brain – when there’s a lot going on, it’s hard to concentrate. Your working environment is absolutely crucial to your output and, just as there are distractions in the office, there can be many disruptions at home too. Working close to your pet is great, until they need attention. Sitting at your kitchen table can be handy, until your neighbour decides to complete their DIY project. Getting a head start on the laundry is useful, until you notice all the other chores that need doing too. These are just examples and, whilst they can be unavoidable, there are ways to move past them.
The most important thing is to find a comfortable seat. Be it a dining chair, a fancy swivel chair or something completely different, it’s important to work somewhere you feel supported. Many people enjoy having a dedicated space to work in to help create a clear division between work and home life, but it’s also a good idea to have multiple comfortable spaces in your home so you can move around and vary your surroundings. This will help combat a few elements of burnout, particularly by getting in a few extra steps and exercising your legs.
Create a routine
Just as office workers have a routine, home workers should too. Create a specific time to get up and ready for the day, leaving yourself time before you begin work to do a small task you might find relaxing such as a quick walk, reading the newspaper or making breakfast – whatever makes you happiest in the morning. This will start your day off well, getting you ready to go for the day ahead.
On your lunch, make sure you don’t sit around on the sofa too long as this will leave you more tired for the remainder of the afternoon. Sitting in the garden, going for a walk, or going to the gym are very popular ways to spend a lunch break at home. Making the most of your breaks will ensure you’re refreshed and ready to continue working.
Your routine doesn’t need to be set in stone but having a rough plan for the day will leave you feeling more fulfilled after the working day is over, with your planned breaks leaving you something to look forward to.
Become an expert communicator
An often-mentioned disadvantage to working from home is communication. In the office, you’re often surrounded by people. Speaking with colleagues can offer a welcome break from your work and face-to-face communication can help employees learn easily. Lack of communication is one of the main causes for workplace failures, and adding technology into the mix can easily spell disaster – but it doesn’t have to.
First and foremost, try to use the instant messaging tools that your business offers often – Slack, Skype or Microsoft Teams are popular choices – as it offers a less formal communication with your colleagues and is quicker than back-and-forth emails. Don’t be afraid to make calls to your colleagues where necessary, particularly because verbal interactions can be much clearer, and to help you maintain relationships and keep loneliness at bay.
A final piece of advice would be to ensure you manage expectations and set boundaries. Your colleagues, for the most part, cannot physically see you and what you’re working on, so when they ask you to complete a task you should offer a realistic deadline. It is better to under promise and overdeliver – meaning giving yourself more time and finish the task earlier than initially suggested – than to be stressed with multiple deadlines.