January 15, 2021
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic only about seven percent of America’s workforce had the ability to work from home. There is an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention”. In this case, necessity is more like the “mother of expansion”. The number of employees working from home during the pandemic has expanded exponentially.
To help suppress the spread of the virus, thousands of American companies have improvised and adjusted workspace requirements to allow their employees to set up office at home.
A large number of businesses that the Valeri Agency works with have taken these steps; very successfully we might add.
This demographic shift has resulted in employers redefining the workplace and investing in software and equipment to successfully implement the long-range nature of their workers’ responsibilities. While everybody is anxious for the time when things can get back to normal, it is quite likely that many of the innovative solutions that have been applied to working during the pandemic will be retained and a larger percentage of companies will continue to allow their employees to do at least some of their work from home.
Working from home creates some unique challenges. There are specific steps you can take to make the work environment more conducive to productivity. Employees need to adjust their thought process in a way that keeps them focused on the job at hand – doing that from home can often require modifications to their environment or to their thought process.
Some of the basic steps to consider when assigning employees to work from home include:
You should have a designated space where you can work where you won’t be distracted by televisions, children or other things that might compete for your time at home but not at the office. It is important to have your space be as functional as possible, including a dedicated desk space with adequate lighting. This is really an opportunity for you to design a workspace according to your needs.
One of the most common risks of working from home is it is quite normal for families to share computer access. It might make sense to invest in another computer dedicated specifically for your work. Your employer should be open to helping with an investment of this nature. Make sure your desk area has easy access to a telephone as well. Purchase all of the little things you have at the office that might not be normal purchases for your home environment – things like post-it notes, staplers, desk lamps and paper clips.
KEEP IT UNCLUTTERED
It is really easy to let the clutter take over when there is no supervisor looking over your shoulder insisting that you keep a clean desk. Statistics show that productivity suffers with a cluttered desk. At the end of each work day, organize your files and set up your workspace as you will want it to tackle the next day’s assignments.
SCHEDULE YOUR TIME
It is so easy when you are working from home to approach work time with a laissez faire attitude. “I’ll go fix the kids lunch now and I’ll get back to this later.” “I think I’ll watch a little TV and get back to the grind after my favorite show.” While these types of breaks are ok and in many cases even necessary, try to plan for them. Set a start-time for work, schedule break times and target a quitting time.
Recharge your batteries. This is especially important during this pandemic when people are so strapped to the home front. Even if it is cold outside, take a work and get some exercise. You will be a more productive worker if you don’t feel as if your life is in a rut and the routine has become boring.
TAKE TIME OFF
If you are sick, take sick time. If you want to go on vacation, do it. If you have already worked the required number of hours, put off additional time until your next work cycle kicks in. Time off is budgeted by employers because they know their most productive employees have lives outside of work. It is easy to forget this when working from home.
Working from home is isolated. One of the biggest drawbacks to the pandemic is the loneliness that has resulted from people staying home away from their co-workers and friends. Check in via facetime, zoom or one of the many other group calling technologies. If you have a question, call somebody. Talk on the phone. Just because you are working from home does not mean you cannot have conferences and meetings. These are vital to getting you the information you need to succeed.
The trained professionals at the Valeri Agency know the value of keeping employees productive, even if it is necessary to perform their duties from afar as has become the norm during this pandemic. This blog from our friends at the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company gives more tips on how to stay productive while working from home.
The vaccines are coming and hopefully soon, things will get back to close to normal. Even when that happens though, it will be good to know the best ways to keep employees productive, whether they be at home or in the office.
Until next time, stay healthy!