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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 October 13, 2020

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

  • Taking a job for the money
  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

1. Be a Mentor

When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

“Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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This can get you stuck.

Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

“Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

2. Work on Your Mindset

Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

“If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

3. Improve Your Soft Skills

When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why do you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    Define success to get promoted

      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

      Final Thoughts

      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

      Reference

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