When I tell people I work at home I get a variety of responses like:
[sneering] “Work, huh? What do you do exactly?”
[wide eyed] “How do you get anything done? I’d be so distracted”
[glaring] “I wish I could do that!”
Admittedly I work in casual clothes (sometimes they even match!), take “laundry” breaks instead of coffee breaks, and sometimes have a 4-legged-feline attend conference calls with me. Despite these out-of-the-ordinary attributes of my workday and working environment, I am 25% more productive when I work from home.
How can a person whose attention is quickly diverted succeed in such distracting environment? Here are 8 ways that working at home makes me so much more productive.
# 1: Commute to work in 30 seconds
It’s a misconception that working at home means no traffic. I have to navigate 4-legged moving targets and daily temper tantrums to make it to my desk. Despite these obstacles, the commute from my bedroom to my office is usually 30 seconds. It takes up to 2 minutes on a heavy traffic day.
Therefore, getting to my desk faster = more hours at my desk = increased productivity.
# 2: Wear yoga pants
Approximately 2 years ago I finally admitted that I no longer possess any personal style. After years of sporting yoga pants paired with a plain black shirt, complete with purple Birkenstocks, I had to accept that working at home resulted in a more casual attitude towards fashion – but this attitude did not apply to my work.
Being comfortable makes me cheerful. Being cheerful makes me more creative. Being more creative makes me more open to ideas. Being open to ideas makes me a better problem solver. Being a better problem solver helps increase productivity.
Therefore, yoga pants = increased productivity.
# 3: Remove body language from the equation
I display my thoughts and emotions primarily on my face. My biggest body language offenses are rolling my eyes and raising my eyebrows. While these are used infrequently, I imagine just a glimmer of a raised eyebrow could damage an otherwise solid working relationship.
While my eyes will tell you exactly how I feel, my voice will not betray me. My tone remains even, my words chosen with care. Anyone listening to me only hears a serene-yoga-wearing-cheerful person even if there is an occasional roll of the eyes.
When people can’t react to the nuances of body language there is less distraction from the conversation.
Therefore, removing body language from the equation = stronger working relationships = increased productivity.
# 4: Take bio breaks on demand
As it stands now I have a schedule that is often double, if not triple booked for 7 hours, an inbox filled with at least 600 emails, and a constant flurry of IMs. Who has time to eat with such a crazy schedule? While I can go hours without eating, the same does not apply for bio breaks.
Working at home gives me the opportunity to quietly mute my phone when a group meeting doesn’t require my attention. During this time I can grab a cup of water or take a bio break. This means I can spend 4 minutes in between meetings to respond to email or IM when needed (it takes exactly 4 minutes to end one WebEx and join another).
Therefore, having bio breaks on demand = more responsiveness = increased productivity.
# 5: Get the laundry done
While my in-the-office-colleagues spend their time in between meetings grabbing coffee or taking a bio break, I race up the stairs to move laundry from the washer to the dryer to the laundry basket. This accomplishes a few things: clean laundry, short burst of exercise, and much needed break from my computer screen. I can do this in 1 minute, leaving 3 minutes of email/IM time thanks to webex (see #4)
A brief break from work is just the distraction I need to refocus my energy.
Therefore, getting the laundry done = increased productivity at home *and* at work. Bonus!
# 6: Be more active, more often
In the office I’d be one of those people that sits on a yoga ball and finds a proper desk workout which might lead coworkers to think I am completely insane (not productive). At home I can use my lunch break to take a 30-minute walk or do yoga.
In the office when I need a pick-me-up I’d go for a dose of coffee, complete with sugar and cream. Whereas an exercise break gives me energy for the rest of the day, a coffee break makes me crash a few hours later.
Therefore, physical activity during the workday = increased productivity.
# 7: Personalized space
It would not be possible to customize a corporate office space to be as magical as this:
The color of my office is a calming “plum passion” and is filled with things that make me smile. Everything about my office is tailored to me. When I look around my office I feel calm and happy. When I feel calm and happy …well, you know, look at #2.
Therefore, completely customized workspace = increased productivity.
# 8 Statistics show it’s not where I work but how I work that’s important
In a recent blog, Sheila Jordan shares “incremental productivity is gained by aligning employee work preferences. An average of 79 hours per employee is saved each year in commute avoidance”. She also cites that “mobile and remote workers also have higher performance ratings – higher than traditional workers.”
I’m one of those workers. I have been a remote worker for 10 years. In that time I have built strong relationships with my coworker, led major initiatives, and accelerated my career. I combine collaboration tools with face-to-face meetings.
Therefore, a savvy remote worker = increased productivity = gains for the company.
A 30 second commute in yoga pants to my perfect office is as good as it gets.
I’m not fashionable. I need to keep my eye rolling to a minimum. My daily routine is unconventional. But being happy, healthy, and completely in control of my work environment makes me an exceptionally productive employee. ..
25% more productive than when I worked in an office from 9-5.
This blog was inspired by Hao Le who dared to go back to a full-time office environment after spending 6 years working remotely.
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