Out of bed, still in PJ’s, coffee in hand and I’m signed in at work with a click of a button. No commuting for long hours, no more dress code, no one-on-ones with the boss, no more waiting for my cuppa at the vending machine! Oh, the perks of working from home are countless. This is nirvana.
Oh, wait. What is that screeching noise that I heard? Maybe the baby fell off the bed and started crying inconsolably? Did I forget to feed my cat and it is annoyed now? Did the pressure cooker blow up as the husband vowed to cook today? Bummer!
As much as companies across the globe are embracing the culture of working from home, more so in the recent wake of Coronavirus Pandemic, getting down to working from home is easier said than done. One might have to face a plethora of productivity killers or distractions on an everyday basis and that might start reflecting in an individual’s output, qualitatively as well as quantitatively.
Some of the top productivity dampeners while working from home could be:
With school and colleges shut until further notice, kids and teens have turned out to be very demanding. You may help them by:
- Encouraging them to take online classes so that they don’t miss out on their coursework and also learn new skills
- Helping them talk to their peers through video calling so that they don’t miss them all the time
- Involving them in household chores so that they feel engaged and productive. (Don’t forget to thank them for contributing)
- Working out with them to keep them energized and help them in not becoming lazy and cranky
- Encouraging them to read, paint, play with their siblings in the garden, garage, etc., in order to decrease their screen time.
With the restrictions on going outside, it has become difficult to deal with the confused pets. They have become very demanding and might aggravate your temper by jumping on your keyboard, making noises while you are on office con calls etc. You can handle them effectively by:
- Keeping them active by taking them for a walk around the house or your lawn before you start your work routine, during the breaks and afterwards
- Ensuring they get ample physical attention, like a head scratch or a belly rub to help alleviate their anxiety related to being cooped up for long periods
- Talking to them as much as possible in this period of isolation and low social interaction as that might help in fostering a stronger bond with them
- Allowing them to occupy the area beneath your desk which is a cozy spot for them and it can also be calming for you to experience the warmth of a pet on your feet However, make sure that area is clear of anything that can be chewed like stationery and wires
- Making sure that water and food are available for your pet while you are working; this will remove the need to stop working to feed them.
Constant presence of partner/spouse
Constant availability of a partner or spouse is causing rifts because of a lack of space. You can still live in harmony by:
- Understanding that you both are responsible adults and must give each other space, especially when you both are working. You may work in different rooms
- Validating your partner’s concerns during this stressful time as they may be highly stressed out. While the couple shouldn’t discuss this issue extensively to avoid stress, it is even more important that you do not invalidate your partner’s emotions and also try comforting them
- Mutually fixing a few slots a day when you will be exclusively spending time on yourself, with your partner and with your entire family
- Splitting up household chores with your partner to prevent conflicts. Couples and families living together should expect a larger-than-normal amount of housework during this time
- By discussing the issues with your partner which have been affecting your relationship with them. You may also enrol for online couple’s therapy.
With no house help available during this pandemic, one has to manage household chores with office obligations. These chores can be managed effectively by:
- Asking the children politely, yet, firmly about tidying up themselves post eating, doing homework, playing, etc. Keep some rewards attached to this cleaning so that they look forward to it
- Splitting more serious tasks like washing cars, mowing lawn, deep cleaning, laundry between you and your partner
- Doing a majority of meal prep including chopping, cooking and freezing during the weekend to save up on time
- Doing all important tasks while buying groceries, filling the fuel in cars, etc., during the weekend
- Making a Google spreadsheet listing all the bills (credit card, phone bills, tuition fees, etc.) that have to be paid for the month arranged by the due date. Use it as a checklist so that you know exactly what you have to pay, when the due dates are and where all you can pay online.
Distractions due to doorbells, telephones, dishwasher, washing machine
At home, one is constantly distracted by different types of noises. These could come from a loud TV, a ringing phone, doorbell ringing, noisy kids, noise from the washing machine, mixer-grinder, etc. This may easily cause you to become agitated or lose your train of thoughts. These noises can be handled by:
- Investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones that emit a frequency that helps stifle regular household noises. Headphones also indicate to your family that you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed
- Communicating very clearly to your partner and other members of the family for your need for a quiet working environment. Setting ground rules for your workstation, such as respecting quiet time for a couple of hours or knocking before coming into your office might be very helpful
- Planning your noisy chores during the weekends, before or after the work hours of you and your partner as during the week, you both need a quiet environment to be highly productive
- Using the mute button when you are not talking, during a team conference call over Microsoft Team, Zoom, etc., to save yourself from getting embarrassed should the sounds at your place might bother the people at the other end. Unmute your microphone when it’s your time to speak, however, once you’re done, don’t forget to mute it again
- Shifting to your terrace, garage, garden, or any other place for working quietly when nothing else seems to work.