How Do You Maintain Or Increase Your Productively When You Are Working From Home (WFH)

Nov 16, 2020

Elizabeth Houghton

Sutton Full Potential Founder

Great! Your boss has entrusted you with working from home (WFH). He expects excellent work from you and trusts that you will deliver. Now, all you have to do is fulfil what’s expected of you – and possibly more.

There are several benefits to working from home:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Work in comfortable clothes
  • Get some household chores done simultaneously
  • No commute, no crowds, and no traffic
  • Save money on lunches and commutes
  • No distractions
  • Easier to make calls
  • More time with loved ones

However, there are disadvantages to working from home, as well:

  • Requires a lot of dedication, discipline, and willpower
  • Difficult to stick to a routine
  • Miss calls and pings
  • Take more-than-required power naps
  • No office gossips
  • Iffy WiFi
  • No immediate answers to your queries
  • No second monitor
  • Slow progression of work

My commute takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to work, and the same duration back home. But I’m not complaining because I love where I live. [insert picture] and I love where I work and feel privileged to serve an organization that is both supportive and flexible and encourages WFH. Here are a couple of things I have learned since I started working from home.

Is a work-from-home job suitable for everyone?

No, there are some types of roles that require you to work from an office. For example, front office staff cannot afford home-based schedules since they need to meet and greet visitors. The same applies to several other jobs that require you to be at the office.

Some jobs allow you to complete specific tasks from the comfort of your home. On the other hand, for some duties, your boss needs to take a call on whether you must work from the office or can finish the job from the comfort of home.

If you are given a choice between working from the office and working from home, consider the nature of the job, whether it’s a team responsibility, and if you have the necessary setup.

Not everyone is cut out to work from home. There are several considerations that must be factored in – Are you disciplined enough to work from home? Would you be more productive working from home or the office? Would you be easily distracted by chores and the television, or can you easily walk away from these? Will you stay in your PJs all day long? Would you be tempted to have a lie-in, or will you be organized and work as you would if you were at an office?

Setting up a home office

Setting up a dedicated workspace will help you stay focused and alert throughout the day. Some basic requirements for a home office include:

  • A laptop
  • A desk
  • Dedicated space
  • A home docking station

While you have the comfort of working from your couch or dining table, both options aren’t good for your posture. Working from home requires dedication and concentration, neither of which are possible when you are seated awkwardly.

Staying flexible

Be flexible about your work-from-home days. There might be times when you plan to work from home but are required at the office. Or, a colleague may fall ill, and you might need to fill in for them at the workplace. An organization that supports you working from home at the least deserves your support when your presence is critical.

If there is a problem at work on one of your WFH days, take the initiative to go in and help set things right. If there’s a training program and you have the option of missing it since it’s your WFH day, forgo working from home and proactively attend the session.

Planning your day

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: WFH requires dedication and discipline. Planning your day saves you tremendous time.

If you have the opportunity to choose the days of the week that you could work from home, ensure you don’t pick a day when you have back-to-back meetings – unless you prefer to have them via a conference call or skype call. Generally speaking, in-person meetings – especially important ones – are best-done face-to-face.

Finally, I’ve learned that colleagues are not too pleased when I take a series of Mondays and Fridays off. Avoid picking the same days of the week every week. It will give you a change and also stop colleagues from talking behind your back.

Staying connected

I’m guilty of not staying constantly connected – I love my smartphone, and I’m addicted to some of its handy features (like Google Maps). However, I tend to leave my phone lying around all over the place.

When working from home, you can’t afford to be separated from your phone. You should be contactable at any point during work hours. If you go ‘incommunicado’, your co-workers might waste valuable time trying to reach you. To avoid any inconvenience at the office, ensure you are accessible at all times.

Answering emails

Answering emails is as important as returning official calls. A work-from-home day is not a holiday, and you must treat such a blessing as a working day – that is what it is. Just as you would answer emails right away if you were working from the office, you must acknowledge emails even when you work from home.

Being honest with your boss

If you need to get personal work done during your WFH day, be honest with your boss about it. Let them know what time you will attend to work, and ensure you don’t take an entire day getting it done. Your boss should be able to trust you working from home. Softwares that measure keystrokes might let your boss know that you are really working, but this isn’t a sign of trust.

My boss (Russ) has the uncanny knack of calling me just when I step out for a cup of coffee. It’s happened on several occasions. I could be working several hours together without hearing a word from him, but then I step out for a ten-minute break, and that’s just when he contacts me.

Russ and I joke about this. But we can afford to make fun since I’m honest with him. If I am out and he calls, I let him know that I’m out and help out with whatever he asks. If he requires information from my laptop, I let him know when I’m expected back from my break and give him the information he needs immediately on my return.

At the end of the day, you will do well with WFH if you understand the basic principle of working from home: WFH is not a right – it is a privilege.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of working from home. If you are a manager, I would love to know how you manage to ensure your WFH employees are productive. I would also like to understand how you maintain trust with your WFH employees.

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