Posted by Emilia Jiao on April 21, 2022 | working, remote

Due to a certain global situation that’s been going on for the past three years, many of us had to retreat into the safety of our homes. While the world is starting its slow but steady transition back into pre-covid life, we have to face the fact that certain changes are here to stay, one of them is working from home.

For companies like Administrate, who operate in the technology sector, working from home has made a positive impact on the company as well as their employees. With working from home (WFH) now a standard practice, companies now have access to talent that was previously restricted by commute, while employees not only get time back in their day to spend however they like, but also save on the cost of the commute.

Although WFH may sound like the perfect solution in theory, it also has some complications. According to a study done on a large unnamed IT-service company based in Asia, productivity within that company has declined 8-19% during the day since the workers transitioned from working from office (WFO) to WFH, but in return extended their working hours by an average 18% to compensate. From online activity, it was gathered that the hours of “active e-correspondence”, on average, increased by 48.5 minutes per day per person which means that workers are working more than 4 extra hours per week (in a 5-day work week)[1]. The loss of productivity is confirmed by the University of Birmingham which [2] noted that 64% of employees felt that they were more productive in the office than at home and this loss of productivity was felt significantly more by parents as well as female—child and child-free—employees. Additionally, many employees also reported feeling more detached from their co-workers or feeling extreme isolation which brings on additional stress.

So is working from home always going to cause these issues? Not necessarily.

Fortunately, with a few minor adjustments to your day, WFH can be just as productive as working from the office, if not more so. Below are some ways you can ‘mock’ yourself to success.

Mock your “Commute”

Due to the savings of time and money with WFH, benefits of a commute are often overlooked. Commutes can be a way for our minds and bodies to shift between home mode and work mode, creating a mental separation. With the complete elimination of the commute, we have the potential to bring a lot of the stresses of work home and/or vice versa. That is why it is important to mock your commute! Every day, before and after work, try to spend 20-30 minutes to complete a bit of your commute “ritual”! If you normally read on the train or walked to work, try to take some time every morning and after work to read or go out for a walk. Taking time for yourself in-between work and home can really help with concentration and stress relief.

Mock your “Office”

Mocking your office means to find a space that physically separates your “living space” and your “working space”. Of course a complete home office set up can be very difficult to come by, but even just the physical divide of sitting at the opposite side of a desk can make a massive improvement in your concentration. Set your “office” as a work-only area, and if you cannot concentrate or need to do other non-work-related tasks, walk away from your “office”. This way, the minute you sit down at your work station, your mind automatically shifts into work mode. Another way to “mock” your office is to take advantage of the “work-from-anywhere” policy (if available to you). Simply find a space that you are happy to work in outside your home, whether that is a shared office, a café, or even at the park. Studies have shown that working anywhere can boost productivity up to 4.4% percent compared to working from home, and that can easily reduce the hours worked as well as the stress felt. Lastly, but most importantly, no matter if you are working from home or working from anywhere, make sure your office space is ergonomically set up. Small things such as adjusting your computer screen brightness to the point where you can see without squinting or making sure your chair is set to the exact height where your legs will make a 90-degree angle with the ground can really make a difference to your physical health in the long run.

Mock your “Office Relationships”

Another big change that comes with working from home is the changed relationship between you and your co-workers. Studies have shown that a more integrated team tends to produce more and better quality work. Just because you cannot physically get together, it doesn’t mean that you have to work in isolation. Sometimes it would be nice to just casually pop in for a chat with a co-worker or even just turn on your cameras and have a work session. Increase your virtual interactions with your team by fitting in team-building or makeing time for, what some of us at Administrate refer to as, “mandatory scheduled fun”. Lastly, managers should be encouraged to be more open about connecting with their employees on matters regarding their home life. The employee’s home situation is a large part of working from home, so if managers have a better understanding of their personal situation, they can provide better and more useful feedback.

Mock your “Hours”

Lastly, but most importantly, mock your hours by setting hard limits as to when you get to work and when you get off of work. Beyond your set hours, block off your access to work-related things (within reason). Small actions like removing your work email from your personal phone, so it is not the first and last thing you see in the day, or physically putting your work laptop out of sight after your work is done can help with leaving the stress of work at work. This mimics you physically leaving your office at the end of the day, so any issues or work beyond what you can accomplish in that day is tomorrow’s issue. This will significantly help with burnout, so you can start fresh the next day, well-rested and with a better mindset.

[1] Working from Home & Productivity: Evidence from Personnel & Analytics Data on IT Professionals (Working paper by the Becker Friedman Institute)
[2]WORKING FROM HOME DURING THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN: Changing preferenes and the future of work (Joint study by the University of Kent and the Univeristy of Birmingham)