Written by: Jona Schaeffer
The normalisation of Home Office.
Let’s talk about remote work. The phenomenon has been in existence since the early 2010s and only really conquered popular mainstream in 2020 (any guesses why??). Thinking about it like that seems surreal, as it has become an integral part of all our lives. And it is becoming increasingly apparent that it is not a fad. Recent studies, such as this one by PwC, show that most of us would love to work the majority of our working week from home.
While we all know about the convenience of working from home, we should also take a second to look at the potential adverse effects it might have. By working from home, work gets mixed with the most intimate part of us, our home! Without the commute to work, there is no mental detachment in place to tell us “this is not the same!”. Moreover, it can increase stress as family members around us interrupt us, making us less productive, which in turn stresses us even more… Finally, not going to the office means a substantial decrease in social interaction outside of work, which can really put us down in the long term.
We are sure you’ve heard that goal setting is a great way to achieve productivity. However, people tend to do this only for “work”, but not for “life”. Now that you can mix the two throughout your day you should extend your goal-setting practices to include hobbies, sport, cooking, whatever.
First of all, set your sleeping goal. There is an innumerable number of studies showing that your productivity increases when you sleep enough (for example this one). While enough sleep is to some extent subjective, science suggests that anywhere between 7 and 8 hours is perfect. Go to bed in time, wake up at a reasonable hour!
Once you are done with that, set your family goal. With family goals, we mean your responsibilities in the household as well as possibly the schedule of your children. Plan your weeks ahead so that there is no stress resulting in last-minute moving around of work and family time.
Once you’ve set these constraints, you can plan your work time accordingly. Naturally, you will need to find some trade-offs on some occasions. However, this order of planning will keep you energized, happy and on top of things throughout the week.
Now that we've established that your “work-goal-setting” is now going to be your “life-goal-setting”, we can set the tone for the day. Books such as The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod suggest you start the day with an hour of personal time, where you spent for instance ten minutes on six different activities each. While the amount of one hour or the number of activities is up for discussion, this technique has one defining attribute: it triggers our brain’s reward centre and sets us up for a day filled with positivity & increases our productivity. Here are some of our favourites that we use to fill us with positivity (will 100% depend on you as a person, anything that makes you feel good is allowed!):
A lot of these things involve physical activity since that stimulates us in an immensely positive way! Go get that win and celebrate yourself for it.
We all know that office space will have a certain group dynamic to it. May it be good or bad, working from home frees us from any of that. Now we can really experiment with what works best for us, without having to fear judgment.
Therefore, we should, first of all, differentiate our work. Generally, most of us engage in four different types of tasks throughout the day.
The creative process is immensely underappreciated in most companies. Creative work needs inspiration, breaks, conversations, and iteration. Try to make time for it when you have a creative spark. Write all your ideas down. When engaging in creative work-session, let yourself get “distracted” by diving deep into a narrow topic (we all held ourselves back from that before). You never know where it might lead. Take frequent breaks. And don’t force it. If you're stuck, put it off for a day or two and reset.
Actively solving problems requires you to be as concentrated as possible. Therefore, contrary to the creative process, you will need a quiet and calm environment around you when engaging in deep work. You should sit (if at all possible) in a room with nobody else. Tell your family to not disturb you for a certain amount of time. Set your phone to flight mode and turn off emails and Slack. Rid yourself from all distractions. Deep work is very exhausting. Therefore, you will feel productivity slipping quickly. Generally, it is hard to do more than 4 hours of focused deep work per day, so keep that in mind.
(Video-) Calls & Meetings
Depending on what you do, you may have a lot of calls or very few. However, most of us have meetings. If you have meetings with a video where you mostly have to listen, try to find a sunny spot in your house to get some of that vitamin D. If you have a phone call and you don’t have to take notes or else, stand up and walk around. Ideally, even walk around the block to get some oxygen flowing through that brain again!
Finally, we all have to answer a number of emails per day. Choose to be flexible when answering your emails. Maybe you're comfortable sitting on the sofa while answering them, maybe your kitchen island is the right place, or maybe just your desk. Pick the spot that feels best for you, and change it just as you wish.
- Leave the “old paradigms” behind and become adaptive in what you do and where and when you do it. Listen to your body and your mind to increase productivity.
- Communicate. Get the family aboard and communicate your work to them. It will give you a chance to let them know when you're busy, but also give you time to reflect.
- Work is life and life is work. Things will get really intertwined over the next decades. Make sure to have your priorities set right. Stay on top.