How to Improve Productivity while Working from Home

People who feel free and are responsible, work a lot better – Olivia González

The world’s been moving forwards at an accelerated pace for a long time now. Nevertheless, in the last year and a half, it seems like someone has moved up a gear. COVID preventive measures have brought mass changes to our way of life. One of which the most significant has been the implementation of remote working — a measure that is likely to stay with us way after the pandemic is over.

There aren’t many things on which everyone agrees and, of course, remote working is not one of them. WeWork’s CEO, Sandeep Mathrani, said on The Wall Street Journal that he thinks that working from the office improves productivity and that he has doubts about the commitment of those workers that prefer working from home. On the other hand, companies like Gitlab have already created a managing position whose function is to take care of the people who work from home, making things easier for them. It’s called Head of Remote. They point out that it’s more important to pay attention to how their workers carry out their work rather than from where they do it.

Un hombre con un reloj de arena en la mano.

We thought that maybe Olivia González, psychologist and a professor at EAE, could act as our own Head of Remote and give us some advice in order to improve our productivity when we work from home.

Not All that Glitters Is Gold

Most workers are grateful to be able to work from home — the time saved on commute and the comfort of their own home are key but, is it all positive?

What are the personal consequences of carrying out a bad remote working routine?

A bad remote working routine can bring multiple problems that will depend on each person. That’s why, the first and most important thing is trying to know yourself. What do you like about going to the office? What does going to the office have to offer? Will you be losing those things if you choose to work from home? For example, extroverts who like walking to work and having a coffee while talking to their colleagues will have to compensate for the absence of this in some way. If not, they will face problems like not feeling comfortable, not feeling like themselves, experiencing depression, burnout, insomnia…

We mustn’t forget that we’re social beings and that social contact is crucial. Remote working cannot and must not erode this aspect of our lives. If it does, depending on the type of person we are, the consequences could be fatal.

We’re Rookies

It’s normal to make mistakes when we’re facing something new. Working from home wasn’t in anyone’s plans and we weren’t ready for it.

Is there any advice we should pay special attention to?

  • Working Area — It’s crucial to have a proper place to work and to be able to isolate that area from the rest of the house where you carry out your personal matters. Our brain works by adapting to the environment and it’s important to make sure it’s able to differentiate the working environment from the personal spaces. The emotions and the experiences aren’t the same and it’s important they take place in different areas. It’s also important that the people that live with us respect our schedule and our dedication to our work.
  • Schedule —It’s of the utmost importance to have a work schedule. Instead of going to an office outside our own home, we have the office inside. It’s alright to have a flexible schedule when possible, but it’s important to respect the schedule we’ve set for ourselves. Breaks must be present in our planning — the ideal is to take a few minutes break every hour or hour and a half.
  • Outfit, (even if we’re staying in)- It’s necessary to be wearing the right clothes. Our outfit and our image are also part of the environment that our brain picks up. We can use more comfortable clothes than we would wear to the office, but we must never work in our pajamas.

The three main mistakes we make come from ignoring these three pieces of advice — not having an isolated work space, not having a set schedule that includes breaks and not dressing correctly.

It Takes Two to Tango

The responsibilities of working from home don’t fall exclusively on the workers. Companies must also take part in this issue.

What should companies do?

One of the most common mistakes a company can make is trying to constantly control its workers through emails and calls with the only intention to check whether they’re working or not. The only thing they accomplish in this way is creating stress on the worker and damaging the working relationship. Paying attention to whether a person is present rather than whether or not that person is doing his or her job is still a current quality of the business culture. Does the company pay us to keep the chair warm or for the result of our work?

A good relationship model for remote working would be like this:

  • Providing adequate instruments —– People should be able to carry out their work correctly. It should be done whether they work in the office or from their own homes.
  • Providing training — For example, labour risk prevention and keeping its compliance in check. This implies, among other things, checking that the person has adequate chairs and tables.
  • Taking care of the employees —It would be interesting if companies would offer employees psychological assistance services. Now there are apps that guarantee anonymity and detect possible problems that people may be experiencing. And, taking that information into account, offer specific workshops destined to help with these possible problems.

Article in collaboration with: Oliva González, Psychologist at Skopos and a professor at EAE.

Un hombre recostado en su cama usa su ordenador.

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