It has been a long 17 months since the lockdowns began back in March 2020, and a lot has changed in that time. One of those is the prevalence of working from home. This protocol originally began as a necessity to keep businesses functioning throughout the pandemic lockdowns, but what is apparent is that it is becoming less a necessity and more as an option or even company mandated as health restrictions are lifted. So today I wanted to discuss some tips related to working from home if this applies to you. Working in a home environment carries many challenges, and many are related to distractions. Some are good distractions and others are bad distractions.
Let’s start with the good distractions. It is no secret that working in an office can feel cold, sterile, impersonal, “soul-crushing” …oops that might be a little harsh… But you get the point. Some jobs can be difficult to work in if the environment does not inspire its workers, whereas a home environment can provide a comforting atmosphere. You can make your own fresh coffee, catch the news, take your dog for a walk during a work break, lounge on the couch with your laptop, or even take a quick cat nap in the warm sunshine when your eyes feel heavy. These are good distractions because they can immensely mitigate mental health challenges employees may be working with. A comfortable and supportive environment is key to success in the workplace, and this becomes even more apparent if the office environment was not providing it. A home atmosphere allows for a person to take control of their surroundings and find a whole other gear of productivity if better rested and more relaxed. However, a relaxed environment can sometimes become a double-edged sword.
And now we come to the bad type of distractions. Many positives can become negatives if not done in moderation. Take for example, naps. I think that taking a quick ten-minute nap is more than acceptable because it is astounding how much it can improve cognitive function and alertness for several hours afterwards compared to trying to push through the afternoon in a fatigued state. However, nap durations should be strictly monitored. What I mean is that it is easy to just turn off the alarm or not even set an alarm and just keep sleeping. Before long, a ten-minute nap becomes two hours. Now, besides the fact that long naps can often make you more fatigued than before you went to sleep, the main concern is loss of work time and subsequently productivity. Long naps can sometimes be necessary, especially if the employee is dealing with mental health challenges like depression, but normally they should be used like a coffee break: short and sweet (pun intended if you like sugar in your coffee).
The point is that working from home can create the supportive and comforting environment that allows us to merge our daily routines more closely with work. This does wonders in productivity, but the perks of working from home must be closely guarded and monitored to ensure they do not fall over to the negative side of the equation. During working hours, work should still be the focal point, and creating a relaxing environment should fit around the work and not replace it or overly distract from it. Regardless of whether you enjoy working from home or not, this new reality has started a new dialogue that I am certain will continue to push the frontiers of greater equality and opportunity for the workforce.