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  • Writer's pictureBrian Trimble

Developing Space for Employees Who Work from Home

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted jobs from on-site to remote setups. Homes became the same as the workplace. The boundaries between work and personal life thinned out.

Various offices now attempt to reopen their workplaces to introduce the hybrid work environment. Some days will be spent in the office while some will be spent at home. Many people experience burnout and stress from working from home during the pandemic.

The need for work-life balance became the core concern for the work-from-home setup. This was an uncharted territory for the many offices worldwide.

The aim of the workplaces remains the same regardless of location. Employees must balance productivity with well-being. As many experienced, working from home is not as easy or comfortable as it sounds.

Your company may also shift towards full remote setup or hybrid setup. How can you stay productive and motivated when working from home? Here are some pointers to help you develop a conducive working space from home:

Organize a community

Physical interaction with actual human beings cannot be replicated. The fatigue coming from screen time cancels the effectiveness of communication when it is prolonged.

The hybrid setting solves this problem. It maximizes the time people can have for each other. Meeting for lunch in the middle of the week alleviates the built-up tension from working from home.

A 10-minute remote meeting every day can help jumpstart people into working. It provides them the structure they need to start. Working from home can easily make someone feel isolated.

Leaders should follow up with their members and establish communication lines. This can provide many with avenues of human interaction from afar while ensuring that someone can help them with their work.

Set communication rules and follow them

Chances are that your company uses various applications and online platforms to maintain communication with each other. There are applications for emails, video conferences, and social media accounts.

Monitoring all of these online activities can overwhelm any user, and may lead to miscommunication or confusion.

It is better to set communication rules. Many companies use one primary communication line for emails and video meetings. Prevent using secondary platforms to avoid confusion and repeated communication.

Suggest or prepare a back channel that will immediately be used when the primary communication line is down.

Lastly, set strict time frames of expected availability. This respects the time boundaries of working from home and relaxing at home. Strictly observe this to promote work-life balance.

Set up emergency lines and exceptions to the rule in case of urgent concerns or emergency.

This can be helpful when an employee needs immediate help with something that requires assistance from their work. They may need to face an emergency themselves and need to notify someone from work.

Reserve a designated workspace at home

Use an empty room or a space for a workspace alone. As much as possible, do not use any space in your bedroom as a workspace.

This is important in making brain associations. You have to condition yourself that your workspace will only be used while working and your bedroom can only be used for resting. Mixing the two plummets your productivity due to mixed signals perceived by your brain.

What are some must haves for a designated workspace? Invest in a sturdy table and an ergonomic chair. You will face long screen hours that will require your body to stay in one position. This helps you in observing proper posture while working to prevent health issues.

A well-lit room or space is needed for any shift. Designate a workspace near a window if you work during daytime. Buy a blackout curtain if you work a night shift. Prevent eye strain by buying quality artificial light as an additional source of illumination.

Creating a conducive workspace brings together health and productivity.

Set some ground rules

Follow self-made rules meant to create a divide between work time and play time.

For example, you can wear different clothes when you are working and when you are off the clock. This activates brain association to promote work-life balance.

If you can work flexible hours, set your work time to the earliest time of the day. These times contain the lowest number of distractions. You can build routines and schedules with this type of work time. It prevents procrastination when you get all of your work done early in the day.

Prohibit yourself from checking social media during work hours. Social media can easily suck you into inactivity. It lowers your productivity as it absorbs your valuable energy during the day.

Observe the hours when you are most productive. Attempt to get in as much work as you can during those hours when you are effortlessly tuned into work.

Right before the end of your shift, plan the work you need to accomplish during your next shift. It conditions your brain for the next day and decreases the mental burden of facing uncertainty. You can easily start your day with guidance from your to-do lists.

Of course, these rules do not need to be strict, but they have to provide you with structure to avoid wasting time and energy when you work without any supervision.

Acknowledge that distractions will always be a part of the work

Work from home is still living from home. You may find yourself at the mercy of the noise that your neighbor makes upstairs. You may be living with roommates who observe different schedules than you do.

The key here is to create an open communication line. These things are part of the remote setup, and some of it cannot be prevented or controlled.

Leaders can initiate meetings earlier in the day when there are less distractions, or shorter meetings to only claim the full attention of their employees for a small chunk of the day.

Leaders can also ask their employees to move outside and get some fresh air. Being surrounded by the same environment for extended periods of time demoralizes and lowers motivation levels.

You can also go to a cafe or a library when nothing works out. The hybrid workspace adapts the paradigm that you can be productive anywhere as long as you have the right tools.

If you feel that your work is going nowhere, see if you can pull a progress report of your work for the week so far. Seeing how much you have progressed from one point of time to another can be enough to motivate you to keep going and stay productive.

Remote setup and hybrid workspaces are new territories for many businesses. The abrupt change brought by the pandemic shocked the adaptation of working from home.

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