As of the 24th March the UK is effectively in lock down, with those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home entering into what, for most of us, is relatively unknown territory. Modern technology has moved to the point where it is now possible for some of us to move our workdays out of the office and into our homes. Although we may be feeling like we are missing some of our colleagues and the work place comradery, there are benefits to working from home, not least the fact that it helps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and helps everyone to stay safe.
According to a study completed last year by Airtasker, workers can be more productive when working from home, from the 1,004 full time employees they surveyed, remote workers completed on average 21.9 working days per month compared to 20.5 for office-based workers. On top of this remote workers are unproductive for an average of 27 minutes a day whereas office workers are unproductive for 37 minutes per day.
Working from home can increase the amount of time you can spend on tasks outside of work simply by the removal of a person’s commute. Last year the average daily commute in the UK was 58.4 minutes, so by working from home employees have just under an extra hour to dedicate to whatever they want. When working from home you are also in a position to take breaks and move into a different room or area of the house spending time on other tasks or with other people or pets, allowing you a different work life balance than you may have been used to in the office.
With an increase in the number of people working from home or not leaving their home at all under the current guidance, this will inevitably result in less cars on the road, reducing traffic congestion and pollution. A reduction in pollution is something that we have seen in other countries that have already been implementing similar guidelines to what we are now seeing in the UK. For example, pollution monitoring satellites operate by NASA and the European Space Agency showed a dramatic decrease in air pollution (specifically Nitrogen Dioxide, emitted by cars, power plants and industrial facilities) over China throughout February.
As with any form of change its understandable that there is a degree of adapting to be done but there are a number of things we can be doing when working from home to optimise our productivity over this period of uncertainty.
Our work environment is very important and you should make sure you have it set up in a way that suits you, although you don’t necessarily need to empty out the office and take all your kit home, you need to make sure your set up at home doesn’t limit your capability. Try to set up in an area that helps you prepare mentally and with limited opportunities for distraction. Be sure to avoid areas that you usually associate with relaxation for example the sofa or your bed. Try your best to avoid distractions.
Although you might be tempted to work unorthodox hours, studies have suggested that remote workers are productive when they stick to a set routine. It also helps with being able to switch off when you finish work and differentiate your working day from other activities. It is also important that you schedule breaks and lunch and take them in other rooms to give yourself some time away from your screens.
Working from home can feel like a lonely place especially at a time like this, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you keep in contact with your colleagues, whether that be through messaging apps, phone conversations or video chats. Try to ensure that email is not your only form of communication.
Having the ability to work from home is a privilege, especially during this pandemic and it is a good way to learn new skills and be creative. Utilise this time to benefit your work and personal life. It’s a great time to learn about new technology that may help you be more productive or improve ways of working when we no longer have to work from home, as well as giving you the opportunity to showcase more of your talents, products or services to a wider audience via some of these technology platforms.