WFH Wellness: Staying Productive & Motivated While Working From Home
24 May 2021
Across Asia, countries are experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos are struggling to contain the spread of the virus and its variants, while Taiwan has reimposed lockdown measures to curb the surge in cases after months without any. One cannot help feeling a sense of déjà vu as work-from-home (WFH) has now once again become the default working arrangement for organisations. Here in Singapore, as part of the government’s tightened safe management measures due to the uptick in community cases, employers must ensure that employees who are able to work from home do so from May 16 to Jun 13 2021.
While the benefits of remote working have been extolled by employees – especially during the beginning of the pandemic, many of us have also come to understand its limitations. Phenomena such as Zoom fatigue and extended work time began to set in, and many employees miss the conviviality of the office.
Now that most of us are working from home, one of the challenges we may face is to be able to stay productive and motivated. Read on for some productivity tips that we have found useful while WFH, as well as how design elements that are commonplace in office interiors can be reinterpreted at home, with the aim of optimising our WFH setup.
WFH Productivity Tips
Set Yourself Up For Success
Prepare your WFH set-up just like how you would set up your desk at the office. Strategically position everything you may need within your easy reach – this could include a desk lamp, writing materials, a secondary monitor, your coffee mug and so on. This minimises the frequency of needing to get up to search for the things you need and disrupting one’s focus.
Maintain Consistent Working Hours
When we are working from home where our boundaries tend to feel more blurred, it is imperative that we set a regular schedule to start and end work. This allows us to better manage our work-life balance and create a distinction between when we are on or off the clock. It is also important to cultivate habits that signal the transition from work time to personal time, such as packing up your work desk at the end of the workday, then into an evening jog or time with a pet or loved one. This helps to serve as a buffer from the hectic workday, allowing our minds to wind down and mentally prepare ourselves for our evening routines.
How Office Interior Design Principles Can Be Replicated At Home
Biophilia & Other Natural Elements
Biophilic design aims to bridge the gap between the natural world and the built environment. By bringing the exterior into the interior, it adds depth to the interior space, by creating a soothing and inviting atmosphere. Incorporating biophilic elements into your workspace can bring about a host of benefits – such as increased productivity and creativity levels. Research has shown that workers in offices with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report a 15 percent higher level of well-being compared to those who are not. Similarly, biophilic elements can be introduced at home by placing indoor house plants near your workspace or positioning your workspace in an area of your home that has natural light and good air circulation.
Carving Out A Distraction-Free Space
Research has shown that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after being distracted. Distractions abound at home, where one’s attention could be diverted by other members of the household or our media devices. Office interior design typically dictates that a variety of work settings should be available to employees to choose their preferred work environment based on their type of work. For example, collaboration zones allow for informal touchdown team meetings to quickly occur, while enclosed soundproof pods can be used to take calls or perform focus work.
In a similar vein, it is important to create mental associations between different parts of the home and the tasks that we perform in them. An area of your home can be designated as the “work zone”, which can range from a specific room to a work desk. This delineation helps to create a distinction between when we are on or off work, which is especially important when our homes are now the same place where we work and relax.
Working from home for extended periods will also take a mental toll. A recent global survey of employees showed that 75 percent of respondents reported feeling more socially isolated since the beginning of the pandemic. Many of us underestimate the impact of serendipitous interactions among colleagues that help to build social connections, share knowledge and ideas as well as feel a sense of belonging to the organisation. Staying connected also helps to smoothen the communication process with colleagues that we interact with frequently in the course of our work. It is hence imperative that we take active steps to engage with our colleagues, be it through text messages, calls, or digital tools such as Zoom, Teams and Slack. Remote communication is not a perfect substitute for in-person communication. However, making use of these communication tools while working from home may help mitigate risks of miscommunication among colleagues as well as undercut some of the social isolation we may be experiencing.
In these uncertain and volatile times, the health pandemic continues to exacerbate concerns about how we can continue to be productive and motivated away from the office. Organisations should continue to take the right steps to enhance digital infrastructure and support for their employees, as well as to prioritise the psychological and social well-being of their employees.
Take care and stay safe!
Looking for more tips on workplace design and productivity? Connect with us or subscribe to our newsletter here.