Are people more productive now in the New Normal? On the one hand, working from home has cut through time spent on the commute to the office.
On the other, working from the living room couch while your toddler watches Peppa Pig on high volume becomes the daily routine.
Numerous myths on productivity have been tested and debunked as the general population is thrust into these remote work lifestyles. What is productivity in the first place? Technically, it’s measured as the ratio of effort to output, with time and tools factoring in when necessary.
In the workplace, this can measure how much work is done within a day. However, most people don’t take into account that getting more done in a day may actually mean clocking in more of the hours at their disposal to accomplish these old tasks.
In the long run, this presents greater detriment and efficiency than it does productivity, as work-from-home employees’ health and quality of life deteriorate.
In an effort to develop balanced habits in this vastly uncharted landscape of work, here are a few suggestions to achieve sustainable productivity in remote work lifestyles.
5 Ways to Achieve a Productive Remote Work Lifestyle
1. Create a routine
Now that the kitchen table has become the default desk of many a work-from-home employee, the benefits of working in an office suddenly become apparent. Offices are set-up in a way that promotes punctuality, designates spaces for certain tasks or purposes, and distinguishes individual efforts and collaborative interactions.
This makes the workplace an environment where a routine can be set and mishaps can somewhat be predicted, for the sake of being prevented. This isn’t quite the case at home.
That’s why it’s important to create some semblance of a routine that not only the employee can follow, but even the other members of the family can adhere to. The structure of even just “clocking in” and writing a to-do at the same time everyday and setting up a “quiet hour” in the period when daily Zoom meetings occur can significantly boost productivity.
Think of it as muscle memory, with the brain organ having its own routine warm-ups before a big workout. Whether it’s starting your day a coffee or unmuting the office chat group, give your mind a cue to go to work — and just the same, clock out and relax at the end of the day.
2. Remove distractions
Let’s admit it. Working out of office is hard because there are so many distractions. Not only is no one looking over your shoulder as you fall into the endless scroll of social media, everyday life can get in the way and demand your attention.
With the collective grief caused by the global pandemic becoming more real, it’s tempting to simply attend to leisure pastimes that surely add to easing your mind. This is completely valid — but best to set a time for self-care and still be able to keep your job in this economic climate.
Besides homeschooling and cooking, among the ultimate distractions of those in remote work lifestyles is in keeping the home clean. Who can blame them?
From dishes piling up in the sink to dog hair growing into dust bunnies air humidifier— chores can pose a greater importance in the moment than sending out that email. However, setting a designated day or hour to accomplish these chores — like doing the laundry or segregating and taking out the trash — can help you organize your priorities and focus on the work at hand.
3. Take a break
Don’t make yourself an afterthought in your own home. Many have pointed out that a remote work lifestyle has given them more time to spend with family or their favorite spaces at home.
Enjoy it and use it mindfully! Make meal times and regular breaks meaningful — you’ll be surprised to see how that 1-hour lunch break is only actually 15 minutes of eating and 45 minutes of free time.
Within that period, you can rest your eyes and your mind through a cat nap, a short meditation session, or a midday shower. Even better? Do nothing.
Studies show that breaks can boost not just productivity, but also performance. This is the metric in which one can derive some fulfillment from interactions in the workplace, creativity in output, and presence in collaborations.
There’s no denying that the toxic office work hustle culture has crossed into the home as signified by how remote work lifestyles have increased productivity. While more work has been reportedly been accomplished, more hours have also been put in — though not always clocked in.
During the start of the pandemic, “panic productivity” displayed the widespread mindset of employees needing to show their worth to companies by burning the midnight oil from under the comforts literally of their comforters. That phenomenon resulted in a collective burnout.
These days, the importance of communication among team members is highlighted in remote work lifestyles as trust, honesty, and accountability take precedence over ticking off an item on the to-do list.
Asking for help, requesting for more time, and swapping responsibilities as needed not only become essential to running a productive, profitable company, it also nurtured the human connection that most people actually even go to work for.
5. Celebrate small wins
Last but not the least, whoever said drinking wine wasn’t allowed in the office can just keep their camera off during the daily company sign-off. A remote work lifestyle isn’t something that people signed up for, and surely not in the circumstances that brought it about.
The difficulties adjusting to the unique environment that is, ironically, one’s own home, are indeed challenges to count as victories once they’re passed.
No one is grading your performance more than yourself now, fortunately or unfortunately, but this is your reminder that whether you put on trousers or sweat pants today, celebrate your accomplishments.
Your work is important, and so are you! Until there’s an international ruling body for working from home — and there shouldn’t be — measure your productivity alongside your sense of personal worth and success.
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