10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Working From Home
10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Working From Home
Remote working is hitting the headlines again – with some workers being forced out of the office to protect against COVID-19. However, home working usually hits the news for all the right reasons, with technology enabling digital nomads to work from almost anywhere in the world, and a report from Stanford University stating that remote working encourages higher productivity. Personally, although I travel a lot, for many years I've also been holding meetings and providing Coaching via videoconference with global clients from San Francisco to Nairobo, London to Paris, and Dubin to Montreal, often from a home office.
Depending on which surveys you read, between one third, or up to 58% of workers in the UK consider themselves to be most productive when they work from home. Statistics show that 13.7% or over 4 million UK employees now work from home on at least one day a week, with You Gov stating that 70% of UK workers want the choice to be able to work from home, especially the Millennials. Companies, such as Plantronics, who embraced SMART working initiatives many years ago and encouraged remote working and healthy living, saw sickness absence levels fall to below 3%.
A wide range of organizations encourage remote working due to a lack of capacity in their head offices and then enjoy cost benefits from having more remote workers. It is undeniable that there are many benefits to the employee working from home, with workers welcoming the opportunity to be able to take their children to school, and/or collect them, as well as feeling no pressure to attend routine doctors’ appointments, and no longer being required to take a day’s leave to wait in for the gas man to mend the boiler. Being able to log on remotely when you’ve got a bad cold or sickness bug, also helps to keep germs at bay and minimise an individuals’ sickness absence levels and prevent widespread infection.
However, research from the CIPD and Cardiff University suggests that between 32 - 44% of remote workers struggle to relax when they are working from home, as opposed to 38% who work in an office full time. Some surveys suggest that many UK employees are working up to an extra 10 hours unpaid each week. So, the key for remote workers is to monitor their workload and manage their work-life balance.
Many Sales people work from home and indeed have done so since the 1960s, even before the internet and mobile phones, when it was expected that a Sales person would be happy to use their home landline to make work calls and claim back the costs. A motivated Sales person, or indeed any employer, is usually much more productive away from the noisy - and sometimes damaging - water cooler chats. Similarly, anyone who is self-employed or a budding entrepreneur, is also very inspired and usually has to find ways to stop working so hard.
But what about the two-thirds of individuals who apparently don’t feel very productive if they are asked to work from home? How do they stay motivated? When I worked in Sales roles, the team would often discuss remote working at national Sales meetings, when the whole Sales team would convene at Head Office to discuss issues and updates. Here are some of the ideas we’ve collected over the years:
1. Stick to a routine: For example, if you get up at 07:00 to go to the office or to visit clients, then do the same when you’re working from home
2. Have a separate office: If your home has the space, have a dedicated office where you can shut yourself away from your partner, children and pets! We’ve all seen videos of children and pets interrupting video conferences, which is amusing, but interruptions can be annoying if you’re on an important telephone call with the CEO or your biggest client, or just trying to concentrate on preparing your teams end of year reviews or presentation for the annual conference
3. Set boundaries with your housemates: Housemates or families often think that if someone is ‘working from home’ they can fix the washing machine/mow the lawn/chat on the phone for ages/cook a big meal/do the shopping/go to the pub! Clearly stating why you’re working from home and what you’ve got to accomplish works well, especially if you can give a time limit to finish with a reward at the end
4. Wear office attire: As tempting as it is to sit in your PJs or tracksuit bottoms and fluffy slippers all day, if you dress as if you’re going to work, you’ll feel and act more professionally. Previous male colleagues would say they had to have their watch and shoes on (as well as shirt and trousers of course!), whilst female colleagues would advocate having their make-up and jewellery on to feel like they were at work
5. Have a plan and try to stick to it: If you’re used to having a ‘To Do’ list, then stick to your way of working when you’re at home to keep you on track and, if you’re struggling, work backwards from any deadlines
6. Use the time for you: Use the quiet time to have a catch-up meeting with yourself, to check that your work is aligned with the company vision and strategy, and ask: what’s working, what needs improving, and what can you do differently? Having time away from the office noise is very useful to evaluate your position and progress against objectives, both personally and work-wise
7. If you really can’t get motivated: On a grey Winters day as you stare at the horizontal rain, it’s easy to start Googling holidays in the Caribbean, or leaping on to any social media platform, or even the company’s IM to chat to anyone who is free. Switching off any alerts to concentrate on writing that report will pay off, again giving yourself a reward once it’s completed
8. If you really, really can’t get motivated: Sometimes it’s not easy to get up, have breakfast, go in to a spare room, and start work straight away. If it’s possible, going for a run beforehand, or a brisk walk helps to focus the mind and if you really can’t get going, then call a friend or colleague and ask for help, or ask that you can be accountable to them, for example, they may suggest spending 30 minutes on a report or business case, and then submitting it to them for their ideas
9. Take regular breaks: If you are working from home alone, then still take regular breaks from your laptop, but don’t swap one screen for another and start watching ‘Loose Women’ or ‘Neighbours’ as you’ll start to feel lethargic and suddenly loose a couple of hours and then may feel guilty
10. Switch off: Chances are that once you get going, you’ll suddenly realise it’s lunchtime. Make sure you don’t snack all day, but have regular meals and if possible, have some exercise later on in the day, even if it’s stretching or a quick walk. Then unplug completely at least an hour before bed.
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