Working from home, remote working or telecommuting can be as rewarding as it is challenging. The office environment is one we mentally associated with work, and the home environment is one we usually associate with family and relaxation; Bridging this gap is an important aspect of being productive and successful in your work while on a remote work assignment or simply working from home while sick. In this latest piece, the Future Fitouts team takes a look at the benefits and challenges of work from home arrangements, ways you can boost your productivity and motivation in a home office environment, and some of the available technology that is being used by telecommuters around the world.
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Working from Home Benefits and Challenges
More and more employees are seeking careers with increased work/life balance and businesses looking to hire and retain the best talent are increasingly finding that work from home arrangements are becoming the norm across a variety of industries. Of course, not every work environment is adaptable to remote working conditions; Doctors still need to be present for surgery, and the bond between teacher and student will always be stronger in person but in some industries working from home could prove to be highly beneficial to your business’ bottom line.
Benefits of Work from Home Arrangements
Studies have shown that employers who allow their employees to remote work or telecommute, will often see tangible and measurable results with employees reporting several key benefits including:
- Increased productivity and less stressful work environment.
- Fewer distractions and a quieter atmosphere.
- A greater work/life balance resulting in increased happiness.
- Decreased employee attrition including fewer sick days, reduction in tardiness and reduced need for employees to leave early.
- Slightly increased work hours as commune time can be drastically reduced.
- The need for a ‘break’ or ‘vacation’ may be reduced.
- Reduced carbon footprint through telecommuting.
Challenges of Remote Work
With studies continuing to point to the benefits of working from home while sick or as the norm, why haven’t remote work arrangements been more readily adopted by businesses across Australia? This often comes down to the notion of ‘work’ and how the traditional notion of work requires managers to witness productivity by seeing someone working hard at their desk. Modern management continues to find that simply ‘being at work’ does not always equate to an employee being productive and, in many cases, employees who work in a traditional office environment may be less productive than a teleworker. Let’s take a look at some of the common challenges associated with working from home before delving into 9 ways a remote worker can be productive in the home office environment.
Working from home can be lonely – Without face-to-face interactions, we can lose the feeling of being a cohesive team and the sense of camaraderie.
Expectations may not be clearly laid out – Working out of a home office environment needs realistically set expectations between employer and employee
Separation of Family and Work-Life – It can be hard to separate family and work life when your work environment is also your home.
Distractions in the Home Environment – Working from home can be distracting, family life, kids, household chores could all potentially get in the way of completing the assigned workload.
Security Concerns – Working outside of the company network can pose potential security risks that need to be addressed to reduce the risk of a data breach.
The 9 Do’s of Being Productive While Working from Home
- Do set regular working hours – While work from home arrangements can offer some flexibility in working hours, having set hours has shown to improve motivation and increase productivity with tasks at hand.
- Do keep a to-do list – Just like working in an office environment, keeping a daily, weekly and monthly to-do list will aid in getting the assigned workload completed on-time.
- Do keep in touch with co-workers – Keeping in touch with co-workers ensures that you continually work as part of the team and are kept abreast of the latest developments in your company. Making those few teleconferencing calls a day also helps to combat loneliness.
- Do take breaks – While you may be working from home, don’t feel obligated to work from 9-5 without break. At the end of the day you are still working, take breaks as you normally would in your regular office environment.
- Do deal with distractions – Working at home can come with its very own set of distractions. If you have kids, be sure to set realistic expectations, let them know that while you may be working from home, you are still working and give them an idea of when you will likely be free.
- Declutter your work environment – Ensure your workstation has only what’s necessary to complete your task. Avoid any unnecessary distractions and ensure that you have the office design for productivity so that you can remain focused on your work.
- Do dress appropriately – While it might seem enticing to stay in your pyjamas all day, it’s important to consider the unexpected; You might need to make conference calls with customers or with HQ. Getting dressed can also aid in your motivation and productivity.
- Do work hard – With remote work arrangements its especially important to be realistic with your expectations. While it’s important to ensure that you are producing measurable results, it’s also equally important to know when to turn it off. When your office is in your house, it’s much harder to ‘leave the work at the office’. Ensure you set a regular time to start and a regular time to stop; Avoid that ‘one last email’ just as you would if you were working at the office.
- Do ensure your computer network is safe – Your home office may not have the necessary safety protocols to ensure the safe transmission of company data. Ensure you take the necessary steps by speaking to I.T professionals on what’s best given your telework circumstances.
Technology and Remote Work
Working from home has never been easier with improved remote working technology, that has significantly improved how teleworkers can engage with their business remotely. No matter where you are in the world, teleconferencing software, cloud-driven work solutions, and easy to use communication tools are now readily available. These are some handy teleworking tools that are being used by telecommuters and businesses worldwide:
Skype – Microsoft’s Skype has been in use for many years and offers both free conference calling and paid solutions to call phones all over the world.
Slack – Real-time conversation software that supports file-sharing and allows the creation of different channels for different purposes to help keeping teams organised and on task.
Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams is another collaboration tool from Microsoft, allowing communication, and file sharing with screen and desktop sharing capabilities. (Our personal favourite and used everyday, whether we are working remotely or at the office)
Planning and Organisation
Todoist – Keeps all your to-dos in one place ensuring deadlines and errands are met. With Todoist you can organise, plan, and collaborate on tasks and projects with team members anywhere at any time.
OneNote – Is a program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. Remote workers can write notes, sketches, screen clippings and audio commentaries that can be shared within an organisation.
Time Management and Task Assignment
Accelo – Powerful cloud software that allows a business to assign tasks, sales, projects, service and retainers.
Asana – Software to organise and plan workflows, projects and to keep your team’s work on schedule.
Cloud Services and Storage
Cloud Storage – Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox offer powerful and low-cost shared storage solutions for central storage and file sharing between telecommuters.
Office365 – Office365 is now a subscription cloud-based model that includes their well-known software platforms: Word, Excel, Powerpoint as well as many more that have been added to the suite.
Whether you are business who is considering incorporating telecommuting arrangements for your team in your next home office fitout, or are an employee that is working from home while sick, or have been tasked with a remote work assignment that requires flexible work arrangements; Speak to us at Future Fitouts today for the latest in office design Brisbane wide, for some helpful tips on work from home arrangements and for general advice on how to boost your motivation when telecommuting.