Working from home became a necessity when the pandemic struck – but we’ve adapted to it so well, and the benefits of the practice are so palpable, that many employers are considering keeping working-from-home arrangements for the long term.
It might be that the workplace of the future is one in which workers actually visit only rarely, for face-to-face meetings and other work which can’t be performed well in isolation.
If we’re going to persist with working from home practices, then it’s worth thinking about how we can maximise efficiency among employees who might be working in an environment rich in distraction.
Why Persist with Home Working?
It’s worth reminding ourselves of some of the benefits of home working. A recent report from Microsoft identifies that workers themselves prefer working from home for a number of reasons. Home working means more time available for family, leisure and for exercise and self-care. These benefits are valued by workers, who might easily jump ship if these benefits are withdrawn.
Moreover, home-working practices mean less money spent on travel and running costs at a centralised premises, which will make the business leaner and more agile, with reduced overheads.
How can we Improve Home Working?
Creating a superior workspace where distraction is minimised can confer enormous productivity benefits. Apps like Freedom, which selectively block certain websites at certain times of the day, can be enormously helpful for workers looking to eliminate bad habits and temptation. Services of this sort charge a small fee, but if the business elects to cover the cost, the benefits can more than justify them.
Ideally, you’ll create the same environment in the home office that employees enjoy in the actual office – and perhaps even make things even better. Providing extra screens, comfortable chairs, mechanical keyboards and other pieces of computer hardware might improve things. Remote communication software will also be hugely beneficial – a remote workforce will rely on you setting up virtual conference platform where the team can communicate. Having the right software in place for this will ensure that there are no interruptions, and that the workforce is able to cohere effectively.
We should also ensure that we’re making the time for fun activities and team bonding. If workers are coming into the office at different times, or not at all, then it’s possible that some members of the team won’t ever see one another. This creates a situation where certain people are associated only with drudgery and mass emails.
Purely social calls don’t have to be long, and they shouldn’t be mandated – as this might seem like another duty being imposed. But they should be considered as a means of strengthening communication within and between the team.