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Work from home – How to stay productive?

“Work from home” is not a new term to the majority of us. Vietnam is now battling the 4th wake of this pandemic, thus, most people have to switch back to a work-from-home lifestyle. So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? What tips to keep you productive and maintain balance? And how to manage a team of remote workers? Let’s dive in with us.

Advantages and disadvantages of work from home

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Advantages of working from home (Source: Business photo created by jcomp)

Unlike the situation before COVID-19 when remote work is optional, it is now mandatory in many places. The shift to work-from-home mode can be a blessing and a curse to employees. So, what are the advantages and drawbacks of teleworking?

In terms of pros when work from home:

  • Flexibility is the very first keyword that emerges when it comes to a work-from-home lifestyle. Instead of conforming to the fixed schedule of the organisation, teleworking enables people to flexibly manage their timetables. This mode of working offers much more freedom and agility to employees, as long as they set up their plan efficiently. 
  • Less commute stress is the second benefit brought by home working. Everyday, we spend an average of 1 to 1 hour 30 minutes, or even more, commuting back and forth between home and the workplace. Time-consuming, traffic jam fatigue, exhaust fumes etc are those common problems that we have to suffer when travelling to work. Hence, the fact of working from home has literally saved us from those headaches. 
  • Money and time savings are the last but not least blessing when you work remotely. You now do not have to commute to work, meaning that you can save travelling time, petrol for bike/ car, professional clothes or food during the workday. These savings do not imply that you don’t have to pay any expenses when working at home. But, home working can help you cut down on daily costs and dedicate those costs to your savings.

Besides the bright side, work from home does pose some drawbacks:

  • A blurred work-life balance has become increasingly common in the coronavirus age. The remote work situation creates a dilemma around when exactly work time begins and ends each day as we mostly stay at home all the time. If the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life keeps going in a circle, it risks burning out individuals and making them less productive in the long run.
  • Ineffective teamwork is another issue caused by working from home. Even though there are quite many applications and advanced technologies to support teamwork when teleworking, it never replaces face-to-face interaction between colleagues. Besides, technical issues or connection loss also play a major role in ineffective teamwork. 
  • Home distractions such as kids and families, online shopping, household duties, television etc are coupled with meetings and tasks, making remote workers less focus on their work during the day. Unlike the office where we only deal with work and colleagues, home is where we are easily distracted by many surrounding things. 
  • Overall, working from home undeniably has its advantages, there are disadvantages to overcome. Hence, let’s uncover tips towards how to conquer these drawbacks and maintain the productivity like you are working in the office. 

How to stay productive when work from home

Tip 1: Retain your regular working hours

It is undeniable that remote work offers you flexibility. However, the barrier between the working time and life time seems to get blurred when you stay at home. If you lose control over this barrier for a long time, it will harm you physically and mentally. 

A work-life balance is a vital factor when working from home. If you normally work 8 hours straight from 9am to 6pm in the office, make sure that for most of the time at home, you stick to your schedule. There are many automatic time-tracking apps such as RescueTime, Togg Track, Harvest, etc to keep you follow your timetable. In sum, having clear guidelines and maintaining consistent working hours are key to working from home. 

Tip 2: Design a proper home office

Working from home comes with a level of comfort, but also costs you productivity and concentration. People are easily distracted by their surroundings at home. It is highlighted that not everyone has a separate office room in their living space. Nevertheless, we can easily set up a dedicated space that brings you work vibes. 

Let’s choose a corner in your house with good natural lighting and green, if possible. Next step, try to set it up with a desk and a comfortable chair to sit on for 8 hours a day. Don’t forget to prepare office stationery such as a work diary, pens and a bottle of water. As long as your corner simulates your office space, it will provide you an office-esque environment. 

Tip 3: Set ground rules with your housemates

In the landscape of working from home, it is critical to make ground rules with people whom you are sharing the living space with. In case they are your family members like your kids, parents or grandparents, you are responsible to make them understand what “work-from-home” looks like. Do not let them assume your availability just because you are staying at home. There are certain times within the day that you should not be bothered. 

If you are living with other adults who are working from home as well, it’s all about negotiations in terms of quiet times, meeting times, or any shared equipment like chairs or tables. As long as we set rules, follow them and respect our housemates, working from home won’t be a big concern.

Tip 4: Interact with your teammates

Teleworking can cause loneliness, isolation and disconnection due to the opposition between a home setting and an office environment. Luckily, technology advancement has facilitated us with lots of platforms to socialise with our colleagues such as Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, Messengers etc. Depending on your organisation’s culture, you can pick a suitable channel for text, audio call or video call with your team. 

It’s all up to your choice regarding how much interaction you would like to make. However, the highlight here is to try not to overwhelm yourself by having to handle so many messages or calls, especially after the working hours. 

Tip 5: Choose an alternative for your workspace

Social distancing has made it impossible to work in your office or coffee shops and yet work-from-home has never been your taste. Instead, you can choose an alternative workspace that offers you a similar or even better experience as your office does. At Dreamplex, we provide safe workplace solutions for individuals or splitting teams who are looking for a ready, comprehensive and cost-efficient workspace. The safety of our members is our top priority within this sensitive time. Dreamplex is always ready to take extra risk control measures while closely following safety and health requirements. Besides the attentive care towards the physical workspace, we also support our members mental by catering suitable programs such as Surprise & Delight gifts, online events, Ask an expert (mentor/coach), and many more tangible benefits. Overall, Dreamplex is not a mere space to work, we are the best workplace service provider that is perfect for you and your team. 

Dreamplex
Dreamplex can be a right fit alternative to your working from home solution

Work-from-home can be flexible yet very daunting to deal with. We hope that those tips can boost your productivity. Above all else, each individual is distinct, it’s important to figure out what is best for you. If “home” has never been your place to work from, remember that you always have another choice of workspace out there. 

In case you are an employer or leader of a team, keeping yourself productive is important, but you now have to manage a team of remote workers. What should you do to make sure everyone is on track? Here’s some suggestions from us:

How to manage a team of remote workers

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Effectively manage a team while working from home (Source: Girl photo created by tirachardz)

Working from home, as aforementioned, is not a new style anymore. Thus, a team with remote workers does not only survive but they really need to thrive despite their geographic location. As a leader, manager or employer, it is critical to closely keep updated with the team’s situation and progress. 

Tip 1: Set expectations early and often

The flexibility of home working is undeniable, however, as a team leader, you need to provide guidelines, setting boundaries and ground rules within your team. Those rules can be up to your team’s culture such as working hours, communication channels, expectations around responding to any after-hours work email or texts, rules of engagement etc. The important thing is to ensure that everyone must be on the same page to effectively collaborate together and dedicate themselves towards the whole team’s goals. 

Tip 2: Emphasise communication 

Communication is utterly crucial when all of your team is working remotely. It keeps your team apprised of deadlines, available resources, work-related challenges and managers’ expectations, including work schedules. Besides, do not forget to provide different communication technology options such as emails, texts, phone calls, intranet, etc. It’s best to ask your workers how often they want to communicate and what channel they prefer. The customisation for each individual is an effective way to let managers keep a pulse on their employees. 

Tip 3: Offer encouragement and emotional support

As we are all aware that home working can cause loneliness, isolation and stress due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. However, leaders can actively check in on their employees by simply asking them how they are doing. It is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to their team’s concerns and sympathise for their struggles. In addition, a team leader can proactively organise catch-up meetings with the whole team every week to update everyone’s situation and create moments when they can virtually see, talk and have conversations with each other.

When a change or sudden crisis happens, employees have a tendency to look to their managers for cues about how to react. Hence, as a team leader, you hold a huge responsibility in acknowledging the stress and anxiety of your employees, and providing affirmation of your confidence within the team. 

Besides, in this 4th wave of COVID-19 in Vietnam, we know you may be looking for A/B Team (Split Team), Business Continuity Plan, or temporary office solutions that are safe, turn-key (ready when you need it), yet comprehensive and cost-efficient.

To support our clients and partners overcome this challenge together, Dreamplex introduces “Safe and Healthy Private Office Solutions” for:

  • Splitting teams between your main office and one or more Dreamplex locations
  • Splitting your team fully between Dreamplex locations
  • Business Continuity Planning teams who need to work separate from your main office
  • Temporary Offices for 4 to 100+ employees for any other purpose

Benefits include:

  • Work in a safe and secure environment at Dreamplex
  • Enjoy Dreamplex “virtual” experience for members during the pandemic

Sources:

Forbes, “Seven Tips For Staying Productive While Working From Home”, April 2020,.

Lifehack, “How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive”, February 2021.

PC Mag, “20 Tips for Working From Home”, April 2021.

Great Worklife, “The 27 Pros & Cons of Working From Home in 2021”, April 2021.

Harvard Business Review, “A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers”, March 2020.

Anh Thư Phạm

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