Last March when the worldwide impact of COVID-19 became clear, many industries were quickly forced to shift into remote work. While the pandemic served as the driving force that pushed so many people to work from home, research shows that even when the virus dissipates, work-life for many will not return to what it was prior to COVID-19.
The vast majority of employees and employers have determined people don’t anticipate going back to work from an office full-time. With that said, the numbers are also clear that employees don’t want to work from home full-time either. That means hybrid work, where flexibility is embraced and people have the option to pick and choose where and when to get the job done, is likely the wave of the future workforce.
We’ve done extensive research about how to optimize the time that employees spend at home, and will break down the data, best practices and expert advice.
Working from Home: Tips for Success
A simple internet search will fill your browser with endless tips for how to be more productive working from home, but too much information can be overwhelming and hard to decipher. Based on our research, we’ve determined best practices based on advice from 3 sources that we found to be particularly helpful:
American asset manager firm Mercer compiled a list of 5 suggestions that can help you stay more productive in a “world of permanent flexibility:”
1. Choose self-discipline and motivation every day. Motivation is an internal state of mind, and you can choose it at any moment. Instead of “waiting” for motivation to come, what if you simply decided you would step into that mindset now? Motivation comes naturally when you make a start and take action.
2. Set clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Do you work while you are eating lunch? Do you plan on logging off at a particular time, but then find yourself answering emails at night? Do you end up working on your days off? There is no “right” or “wrong” way to create boundaries — there is only the way that feels good for you. So give yourself permission to experiment with new boundaries that support you to show up as your best self in your work and personal life.
3. Understand the difference between “productive” and “busy.” Are you working for work’s sake, or are you focused on tasks that will move the needle? Challenge yourself to let go of the tasks that aren’t moving you forward to work smarter, not harder. A great way to do this is to track everything you spend your time doing for a week and then reflect at the end of the week. You will be amazed by how much time you can create when you become more intentional about what you choose to spend your time on.
4. Permit yourself to take breaks. Get outside, take a lunch break or go for a walk.
5. Shift your mindset around time. Stop telling yourself there is never enough time. Have you noticed that just makes you feel overwhelmed and stuck? And when you feel overwhelmed and stuck, it’s tough to be productive, right? Instead, try telling yourself, “I have more than enough time to get everything done,” and notice how that immediately shifts you out of overwhelm and into motivation and focus.
How to be more productive when working at home
IT and engineering recruitment agency Apollo Technical Engineered Talent Solutions also put together 5 tips for being more productive at home:
- Create a comfortable workspace
- Stay organized
- Commit to smaller, but intense work intervals
- Take a break
- Schedule a virtual commute
Forbes has a simple list of 3 “things you must do” to maximize your productivity: getting comfortable, building boundaries and reconfiguring the water cooler.
Defining “reconfiguring the water cooler,”, Forbes explained, “Leaders need to set up times for team interaction and reach out via text or other tools – Slack, perhaps, or whatever your favorite flavor might be. The important thing about any tool is the way that you use it. Make sure you’re turning technology into the connections that matter, even if it means scheduling impromptu conversations. Team members: reach out more often, get input whenever you can. Being isolated doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected. And you don’t have to jump on a plane or shake someone’s hand to make an impact: the survey data shows us that.”
Best Practices for Remote Working
The global management consultancy Bain & Company has done extensive research on productivity amid the pandemic. According to Bain’s research, “… an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a merely satisfied worker. And an inspired employee — one who has a profound personal connection to their work and/or their company ― is 55% more productive than an engaged employee, or more than twice as productive as a satisfied worker. The better an organization is engaging and inspiring its employees, the better its performance.”
Bainhas found that the “productivity gap between the best and the rest has widened during the pandemic.” Those who have succeeded and thrived in a remote setting are able to manage the following 3 areas:
- The amount of time that employees can dedicate to productive work each day, without distractions, without excessive email, without unnecessary meetings or bureaucratic processes getting in the way.
- the level of talent that each individual brings to their job and, importantly, how that talent is deployed, teamed and led.
- the discretionary amount of energy that people are willing to invest in their work and dedicate to the success of the organization.
Breaking down the Data
Smartway2’s Return to Work Survey found that over 90% of people want a hybrid work model, meaning employees do not want to exclusively work from home or from the office.
A January 2021 survey done by professional services network PwC found that, “Over half of employees (55%) would prefer to be remote at least three days a week once pandemic concerns recede — little changed from the 59% who said the same in June. For their part, while most executives expect options for remote work, they are also worried about the effects: 68% say a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week to maintain a distinct company culture.”
Research from Stanford University has found that working from home can increase productivity by 13%.
Apollo Technical Engineered Talent Solutions published a very interesting article highlighting work from home productivity statistics for 2021. To sum up their findings, “Several studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.”
Work from home benefits
Of the many benefits to working from home, a recent New York Times article found:
- Less time on the road
- Greater productivity
- A cleaner environment
- Money saved
- More job satisfaction
- Less sickness
- More time for fitness
An important part of PwC’s research is understanding the gap in perception of remote work support between employees and employers. According to PwC’s data, “The biggest gaps in perception between employers and employees on the success of a company’s efforts to support remote work relate to childcare and manager training. For example, while 81% of executives say their company has been successful in extending benefits for childcare, just 45% of employees say the same. Of note, women are less likely to say childcare measures have been a success — 41% compared with 49% of male respondents. The rising wave of COVID-19 infections, increased stress and anxiety, and other challenges are taking their toll on the workforce. Employees who report lower productivity are more likely to cite difficulties in balancing work with home duties, in addition to challenges collaborating with colleagues or accessing information. Employee sentiment data may help illustrate the problem and give leaders more insight into what employees need.”
Hybrid Work: Want to learn more?
Smartway2 has some amazing resources if you’re looking to learn more. Check out this article outlining how hybrid work can transform your business in 2021.
Smartway2 helps leading organizations create an outstanding employee experience by enabling people to book everything they need at the office in advance, including desks, conference rooms, equipment and parking. Protect your people with automated social distancing, contact tracing and sanitation procedures, while generating utilization data to help optimize your workplace.