How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home

How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home

How to Stay Motivated When Working From Home

When office workers were asked to work from home due to the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, many were very unhappy and couldn't wait to return to the office.  Fast forward three and a half years and one of the main challenges for business leaders is trying to get workers back to the office!

For many organizations Hybrid Working has become the norm, with teams dividing their work time between the home and office.  However, for some they are still feeling that they are 'languishing' - that sense of emptiness and stagnation, having a fuzzy head, procrastinating, and experiencing screen fatigue from attending too many online meetings.

Despite the challenges of working from home, most surveys still show that almost 60% of employees prefer home working.  They are enjoying the benefits of working from home, from saving time and money on their commute, to being able to work flexible hours, and put the washing on whilst on Zoom calls!

So, as home working and hybrid models are here to stay, how do you stay motivated when remote working?  Here are some of the tips and techniques we've used over many 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 a 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!  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.  Choose the attire and accessories that work best for you!

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 any quiet time to have a catch-up meeting with yourself, to check that your work is aligned with the company vision and strategy.  Ask yourself: What’s working, what needs improving, and what can I do differently?  Having time away from the office noise is very useful to evaluate your position and progress against objectives, both personal and work-wise.

7. If you really can’t get motivated:  As you stare through the window at the horizontal rain, or even blazing sunshine, 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 any colleague 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’ 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.  Creating boundaries will ensure you have a work/life balance.

Finally, and most importantly, if you're a line manager managing a team remotely, don't book back to back meetings all day, as your team members will end up spending their evenings catching up with their emails and work tasks.  This can lead to a drop in engagement, and an increase in stress and burnout, and ultimately issues with retention.

'Thank you so much for listening and for your useful insights.  I hadn't realised just how jaded I'd become and how much I was struggling to motivate myself, let alone the team!  Just putting into place some of your practical tools and tricks has re-energized me.  The team is now back on track too so we're revisiting our working model.'  CFO

About Jill Maidment

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