According to both the Airtasker study and Apollo Technical Talent Solutions, telecommuters tend to work about 1.5 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in “more than three additional weeks of work per year."The many Americans working from home for years regard this as the "new norm," thanks to technology that makes it all possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has put many companies in a situation to consider whether working from home is a viable option.
Airtasker's Productivity Study included 505 remote workers. They gathered information regarding their commutes (the average commute is 30 minutes) and other aspects of their workdays. Eliminating the daily commutes has shown to increase productivity– but often at the cost of their work-life balance.
Major Stresses Related to Working from An Office
For many of us, time is an enemy. Looming deadlines trigger anxiety, which leads to decreased productivity and ineffectiveness. The concept of time combined with anxiety tends to elicit procrastination.
How Remote Workers Are Productive
Surrounded by all the comforts of home, one would think that productivity would decline, as some employers posit—yet the opposite is true. However, working from home has its stress-points.
Dealing with stress and maintaining a healthy work-life balance when telecommuting can be a struggle for some individuals. Family members and pets can be distractions.
Although the variances in stress levels between office workers and remote workers only fluctuated +/- 1% to 3% in most categories, they are worth noting:
▪️ Overly stressed during the workday
▪️ 54% of remote workers compared to 49% of office workers
▪️ High levels of anxiety during the workday
▪️ 45% of remote workers and 42% of office workers
▪️ Procrastinated more
▪️ 37% of remote workers and 35% of office workers
Following are tips to help you stay focused and be more efficient during your work-from-home phase, while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
According to the Airtasker survey, the most effective way for remote employees to stay productive was to take breaks. Although longer intervals show that they increase productivity, the study found that office workers took shorter breaks than remote workers.
If you have a Smart wearable device, set it to remind you to get up regularly during the workday. Get up, walk around outside (weather permitting), pet your dog, grab a healthy snack, call a friend, meditate, or anything else that can help you decompress for 5 minutes.
One successful technique that appears to be gaining popularity is the Pomodoro Technique:
1. Choose a task — work in 25-minute increments.
2. After 25 minutes, take a 5-minute "sprint break."
3. After every four Pomodoro "sprints," take a more extended break.
4. Continue these sprints throughout the day until your workday is over.
Following a technique like this helps you come back more focused. When you are making progress, and as tempting as it may be to skip a break, keep in mind that breaks are essential to reducing mental fatigue.
Following a Schedule
Following a routine that includes set hours promotes a more structured schedule and helps keep telecommuters focused. Although telecommuters spend more time working, they averaged losing 27 minutes a day due to distractions, compared to their counterparts, who lose 37 minutes a day.
Create a Workspace
Everyone experiences interruptions throughout the day: text messages, phone calls, social media, etc. It takes discipline and planning to create the most conducive working environment.
● Silence your phone
● Set up a dedicated work area that is office-like (vs. a coffee table, bed, or couch)
● Avoid areas of the home that could tempt you to redirect your attention
A To-Do List
Keeping a to-do list also helps improve productivity. Daily or weekly meetings with your teams helps prioritize projects, deadlines and keeps everyone on track.
Eliminating the Commute
At least 1 out of 4 employees tends to quit a job due to the commute. Many workers are willing to give up many things in exchange for not having to commute. In these times of economic hardships, the cost of fuel, the maintenance and repair costs, and wear and tear on their vehicles are costs that weigh heavily on workers’ minds. Studies show that the average telecommuter saved more than $4,500 on yearly fuel costs.
Telework has demonstrated other benefits, such as benefiting the environment by decreasing the number of cars, trains, busses, and flights. Additionally, remote workers noticed that they had more free time that they could dedicate to personal wellness and building healthier exercise habits.
Companies can help "flatten the curve" of the pandemic by allowing their teams to work remotely. This helps stop the spread of COVID-19 between team members, their families, as well as other employees and their families.
Working remotely and staying connected with co-workers can be challenging. When surveyed, 70% of remote workers considered staying connected to their team was equally important as their jobs. Companies have deployed video conferencing as one way to help their telecommuters continue to feel that they are part of the team.