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The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

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The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

You hate the commute, you get distracted by co-workers, and you think the solution is working from home.

After all, you’ll have more control over your space and you’ve heard people are more productive. This should make it pretty easy to get your boss’s okay to work from home, right?

Not necessarily. Some bosses aren’t comfortable with the idea because they know that remote work can be beneficial, but that it can also quickly go off the rails. They need to trust that you’re organized and driven enough to make it work.

Get Your Boss To Let You Work From Home

Before you need to worry about getting stuff done while working remotely, you need to first get permission. There are four proven techniques you can use to get your boss’s approval on your remote work request:

1. Get The Right Job

First, not every job can be done remotely. Some places have high security demands that can’t be met remotely or require specialized equipment that’s just not economical to provide to remote employees.

If you don’t face these kinds of requirements one of the best ways to make sure you have a job that is remote-friendly is to find one that can be measured by results and not hours – results are easier for managers to track when they are dealing with remote workers.

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2. Prove You Have Communication Skills

Being a remote worker means you have to go to extra lengths to stay in touch with your teammates and managers. A lot of communication will happen and lines can get easily crossed. If you can prove you are an effective communicator, you’ll have an easier time getting the okay.

3. Convince Your Boss To Give You A Trial Run

Not too many people will be willing to let you jump from spending 100 percent of your time in the office to spending it all remotely – there are going to be a few baby steps in between. The best way to prove you can handle remote work is to get permission to do it on special occasions – like sickness or bad weather – and really kick butt when you get the chance.

Don’t just wait for those special circumstances to prove that you can work from home, though. If you’re like most people, you probably already do work at home – maybe early in the morning when you’re answering some emails or in the evening when you’re finishing off that pitch. Take these opportunities to do great work and subtly let people know you did it at home.

4. Sell Your Boss On The Idea

When you ask your boss for permission to become a remote worker, it’s no different than any other pitch or presentation you’ve ever delivered. Know how it’s going to benefit your boss and the company and make those benefits stand out more than how much you’ll like it. You should also think about what reasons your boss could say no or what concerns they’ll likely raise – have answers ready for those, too.

If you nail your pitch, you’ll be working remotely.

Be Mentally Prepared

So, you’re pitch went well and now it’s time to work from home. You wanted this and worked hard to get it because you thought you would be happier, more productive, and it would put you more in control.

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That’s not always the case and working from home can be tough on your head for the following four reasons:

1. There Are More Interruptions At Home

Working from home gets you away from your co-workers, but places you squarely around your family and in the middle of what can be a pretty chaotic environment; an environment with new people and new demands.

2. There’s Tremendous Pressure To Perform

Remote workers often feel even greater pressure working from home than do their in-office peers. They feel more pressure because they are afraid their colleagues are judging them as “lazy” or “do nothing” because they work from home.

3. The Temptations Are Numerous And Indulgence Is Easier

Playing hooky in the office is much harder than doing so as a remote worker. If you’re having a bad day it can be really easy to skip out on work, sit on your step, and have a beer. You need to know that hard days as a remote worker can be harder than those as an office worker because pushing forward at home is much harder.

4. There’s A Greater Need To Be Organized

When you work at an office, you have others buzzing around you and you might even have deadlines posted in public places. This doesn’t happen in a remote office. You need to have yourself together and organized because people don’t do it as much for you when you’re a remote worker.

Sometimes being a remote worker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and you need to be ready for that. If you’re not, you can have your spirits crushed. If you’re having a bad day, reach out to your teammates and chat, but, most importantly, remember that it’s just one day and tomorrow will be better.

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Working at home alone will only bum you out if you let it.

Setting Up Your Workspace

As a remote worker, being mentally prepared is only part of the battle.

A lot of people think that kitchen and coffee tables can double as workspaces, but they are way off the mark. In fact, they’re are almost guaranteed to fail. Instead of sitting in your kitchen or living room, here are some things you can do to set up a workspace and be physically prepared for remote work.

First, and I can’t stress how important this is, you need a dedicated workspace. It needs to be quiet and removed from the chaos of kids’ toys and meal-making. If there’s an extra bedroom, use that. If you don’t have an extra room, search around for a quiet corner of a room that isn’t used throughout the day and take it over.

Once you have your spot picked out, you need to start to fill it in and treat it like your office: get a dedicated chair and desk, and make sure you have the best internet connection you can get your hands on.

Though it can be tempting to lock yourself in your home office, that’s a bad idea. You’ve taken this step to have more control and see your loved ones a bit more. Don’t back away from that. Instead, learn to set boundaries with other people in your home, while still taking the opportunity to enjoy their company – it will refresh your mind and keep you more productive.

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How To Keep In Touch

One of the most surprising things is that studies show remote workers are more productive than those in the office. Know why? It’s because those people in the office assume you’re working less than they are and they dial back their productivity.

Do the team a favor and make sure you’re keeping them up-to-date with your progress:

  • Don’t become invisible. Carry on small talk on chat apps and stay in regular contact.

  • Let people know when you’re stepping away. Blast out a “Taking lunch,” or “Taking a break,” message in your team’s chatroom.

  • Hold progress chats. These updates give you a chance to talk about what you’re working on today and what you worked on yesterday. They also help you share what goals you completed and it proves you’re getting stuff done.

Working from home is great if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not prepared, it can really be a blow and a setback for your career. These tips will help you work from home while still getting stuff done.

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What tips do you have to help remote workers stay as productive as possible? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

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