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How Working From Home Can Make You More Productive

How Working From Home Can Make You More Productive

Working from home still gets a bad rap, even though it’s grown by 41 percent over the last decade, according to a Sept. 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report. We just can’t seem to shake the image of slackers in their pajamas eating chocolates and watching movies while they pretend to work from their couch. But the truth of working from home is that, rather than bringing out your inner slacker, it can actually make you a more productive professional.

More companies are embracing working from home as a viable option, either during emergency situations like Hurricane Sandy when getting to the office isn’t an option, or on a regular basis to save on real estate and overhead costs. If you’d like to work from home, use the following stats to convince your boss that you’ll be just as, if not more, productive at home as you would be in the office.

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Avoid distracting colleagues.

A recent survey of 800 job seekers looking for work-from-home jobs found that the number one reason they wanted a telecommuting job was to avoid distracting colleagues. Not to eliminate their commute, to have more time for their families, or to save on costs like business clothes, lunches out, and gas. When you work at home, you can eliminate this major distraction and focus on getting your work done.

Control how often you’re interrupted.

A study by the University of California, Irvine found that workers are interrupted every three minutes, and that it takes over 20 minutes to get back on task after an interruption! Half the time, we’re self-interrupting (checking Facebook, listening to talk radio, etc.), but the other half of the time, we’re interrupted by outside forces – loud noises, colleagues stopping by our cubes, impromptu meetings being called, other people’s conversations carrying throughout the office, and so on. We can eliminate 50 percent of our interruptions by working from home.

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Take less sick time and fewer personal days.

People who are sick enough to call in sick to work tend to keep working if they can do so from home. We’re not saying this is the healthiest practice, but it’s the reality of what happens, especially if the sickness is minor, like a small cold or stomach bug. Working from home is a win-win for employers because a) you’re still working, and b) you aren’t passing your germs along to your colleagues, so it keeps everyone more productive. Of course, it works the other way around as well, if you’re working from home regularly, you’re less exposed to illnesses from your colleagues as well. Fewer sick days is a great reason to work from home!

Studies show it just does.

Last year, Stanford University tracked the productivity of 250 customer service employees who worked from home for nine months, as compared to their office-bound counterparts, and the results weighed heavily in the telecommuters’ favor. The employees who worked from home took 15 percent more calls and worked 11 percent more hours than their office-bound coworkers. Overall productivity for the telecommuters was 4 percent higher than for office-bound workers. A similar study by the University of Minnesota done with 600 Best Buy headquarters employees found the same results.

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Of course, how productive you are when working from home depends a lot on you, the employee. How do you work without supervision? Are you self-disciplined and good at self-management? Can you avoid temptations like television, napping, and shopping in the middle of the day? Some people prefer the office environment because it provides more structure and oversight, so before you jump into working from home, you need to first evaluate yourself.

Featured photo credit:  cute young woman with laptop via Shutterstock

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Brie Weiler Reynolds

Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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