At one point in time, companies offered opportunities to work from home as a type of benefit or luxury. Now, during such an unprecedented time, working from home is increasingly common, if not mandatory, as a part of society’s “new normal.”
However, each off-site work environment and experience are unique and present different hindrances to productivity. Some employees are work-from-home parents who must find a balance between simultaneously completing job tasks and fulfilling parental responsibilities.
Other employees—even those unaccompanied by family—may find that working from home just doesn’t work for them. It’s easy to find distractions when we’re left to our own devices—like continuously checking our mobile devices (pun intended).
Despite one’s circumstances, the key to being a productive remote employee is to find the right means to withstand distractions. Fortunately, the proper technology and tools can help increase employee productivity for those outside the standard workplace setting. Let’s take a look:
Internet and app-blocking services
Distributed teams rely more heavily upon, if not solely, on technology. Video conferences are replacing in-person meetings; cell phones, which were once on silent, now have their ringer volumes on to avoid missing any important calls; and employees probably have more internet tabs open than their computer can handle. While you might think being this connected and readily available sets you up for successful telework, it can actually be a recipe for productivity disaster.
To reduce technology temptations, here are some ways to keep you focused on your tasks at hand:
- Restrict notifications. If you don’t need your phone for work, consider putting it on airplane mode or enabling the Do Not Disturb feature to disable or silence text messages, calls, and other alerts.
- Reduce the urge to check social media. Facebook, for instance, has settings such as “Your Time on Facebook” and “Quiet Mode,” which allow users to set boundaries by managing and limiting the amount of time they spend on the app per day and restricting notifications during specific times when they need to focus.
- Block websites and apps. If distractions continue to hinder your productivity, it might be time to use a tool like Freedom, which blocks distracting websites and apps on all devices and operating systems.
Email management software
Did you know that emails are one of the leading culprits behind productivity loss for employees? According to a study conducted by Atlassian, the average employee:
- Receives 304 business emails per week
- Checks his or her email 36 times in one hour
- Spends 16 minutes refocusing after handling incoming emails
Think of all the time lost! With a distributed workforce, employees will only see an increase in the number of emails in their inbox. Fortunately, there are tools that help combat email overload by managing your inbox for you, allowing you to regain both time and productivity in your workday. Using software to automate your email account can prioritize your emails by sorting important messages to your inbox and filtering messages that don’t need an immediate response to a separate folder. You can also take advantage of Do Not Disturb features to help set email windows for additional time-management benefits.
Online financial services
For many employees, having their finances in order equates to a more productive work-life balance. And as a remote employee, financial wellness is even more critical. When employees are worried about finances, they are distracted from their work, both mentally and physically. Not only are their minds preoccupied, but many employees also find themselves using work hours to deal with personal finance issues.
In an office setting, employees have the ability to attend company-wide financial seminars or meet in-person with their human resources director to navigate these burdens and allow for more focus at work. As a work-from-home employee, however, some matters can get lost in translation and become quickly disorganized.
Fortunately, there are solutions to help every employee, no matter where they are located, mitigate financial burdens:
- Early direct deposit. Direct deposit has become one of the most popular payment methods amongst employers and their employees. But for remote employees, in particular, a financial service with early paycheck deposits can further reduce financial stress by alleviating the hassle of waiting for a paper check to come in the mail or waiting for a traditional bank to clear your paycheck after your employer deposits it.
- Online financial counseling platform. Employees can find peace of mind knowing that financial support is available, no matter where they’re working. Financial coaching for employees is available online from organizations like SmartPath, which provides employees with knowledge and tools to help them mitigate financial stress and get back to being the best employee they can be.
With the right support, tools, and resources, the telework experience, such as working from home, can be an easy territory to navigate. Once you find ways to eliminate distractions and boost your productivity, you can revel in the benefits!