As a result of the ongoing global situation, there has been a significant change in the way work is conducted, with remote work increasingly becoming a requisite. This is due to the unparalleled level of disruption that has impacted both workplaces and individuals’ personal routines.
While handling interruptions is a crucial aspect of working remotely, there is always a solution available if it is required or desired.
Research indicates that with the right mindset, resources, and organisational support, remote workers have the potential to be 40% more efficient than their office-based counterparts.
Maintaining a balance between work and personal commitments can be difficult, especially when you have young children or when distant family members expect you to be accessible for a call or visit simply because you are working from home.
The ongoing situation has put many workers in similar circumstances, although they may not have the unexpected visitors they anticipated. Naturally, this has led to a lot of uncertainty and apprehension among employees as they contemplate the future of their jobs.
Tips for Remote Workers
It can be challenging for individuals who are new to remote work to avoid constant interruptions. Even those who have some prior experience with this type of work might face new challenges that they had not encountered before.
Below are five tips for reducing interruptions:
1. Prioritize Family Support
Due to the current situation, working from home is not typical, as there may be school-aged children in the house who require the same technology for their studies or leisure activities.
It is advisable to designate specific hours and a workspace in your home solely for work purposes. During this time, older children and your spouse could assist with household chores and childcare responsibilities.
2. Leave the Home Office
If you have a separate room for work, it is best to use a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign to avoid interruptions and maintain focus. Informing your family that you are occupied when the door is shut will aid in preventing disruptions.
If you are in a situation where you must work from a shared space, such as your kitchen table, it is recommended to complete tasks that need focus and attention when the house is calmest, such as early in the morning or during everyone’s sleep time.
3. Depend on Supportive Technology
Investing in noise-cancelling headphones can be beneficial if external noise is causing constant distractions.
Both the Bose QuietComfort and its latest versions are exceptional headphones. Although the Sony WHX1000XM3 may not provide the same level of noise cancellation as Bose models, it is still a noteworthy option for those who want background music during work.
Several companies acknowledge the advantages of providing their employees with mobile devices like laptops or tablets for remote work. This also guarantees uniformity in software and operating systems used, thus promoting consistency among the staff.
Obtaining a laptop for personal use or establishing a structured timetable is crucial when sharing a computer with family members.
4. Priority Matters
The self can be a source of both distraction and anxiety. Feeling overwhelmed can result from having too many tasks on your to-do list.
Concentrating on the most crucial assignments and finishing one job before moving on to the next is crucial. Dividing a challenging task into smaller, more manageable objectives can be helpful as it fosters a sense of progress. Upon completing each task, it can be removed from the list, instilling a sense of achievement and driving motivation to keep going.
5. Engage with Others (in Moderation)
However, distractions are not solely external to the home.
Numerous organisations offer an excellent opportunity to forge new friendships. Frequently, we visit each other’s offices and socialise in the common area.
When a person experiences feelings of loneliness or boredom at work, they may be inclined to send excessive and unnecessary messages to their peers. However, this not only causes disturbance but also looks unprofessional and thoughtless. To maintain a positive work environment and avoid being labelled as a ‘jerk’ or ‘girl,’ it is essential to refrain from such conduct.
Emails offer a convenient means of communication as they can be answered at the recipient’s convenience. To avoid missing any essential messages, it is important to thoroughly check email subject lines. On the contrary, phone calls, text messages, and instant messages pose a higher probability of causing immediate disruptions.
In situations where incoming messages begin to affect productivity, it may be helpful to set a ‘Do Not Disturb’ status on messaging applications or temporarily silence incoming calls and texts. If required, business owners and managers can enforce this rule during specific hours of the day to alleviate the burden on their employees.
Actions for Successful Business Owners
Productivity retention amongst remote workers is a concern for both businesses and employees.
As a business leader, it is your responsibility to provide your team with the essential resources to accommodate to the changed circumstances. This includes maintaining effective communication and setting standards that encourage productivity.
Being a successful leader entails being mindful of any personal issues that may affect subordinates’ performance. To enable employees to work to their full potential, it may be necessary to revise timelines and deadlines wherever feasible. Additionally, offering guidance on optimising efficiency through the use of relevant software programs can be advantageous.
This is largely attributed to technological advancements.
As a manager, it is crucial to equip your team with all the required resources and tools to succeed. Equally important, is providing them with support to avoid potential distractions. For instance, numerous contemporary browsers and operating systems come equipped with built-in tools to prevent disruptive pop-up ads. Therefore, it is wise to remind your team of such tools to help them remain focused.
In advance, you can restrict access to social media sites and networks on any office-provided device for a limited time.
In today’s digital age, numerous online meeting and communication platforms, such as Zoom, Slack, and Skype, enable us to stay connected. Regular staff meetings ought to be scheduled to ensure that our team is informed and motivated. Moreover, these digital tools can encourage more personal discussions between employees and management, thereby promoting a collaborative and supportive work environment.
Remote work is not a new concept, although the current situation has posed a distinct challenge for both managers and employees, offering limited time to adapt to the new work environment.
We trust that the guidance provided can help to ease the burden on you and your team at this difficult time. Let us not forget that, despite being physically apart, we are still united in our pursuit.