Minimising Distractions When Working from Home

The trend for home working has been gathering pace over the past few years as technology has enabled high performance remote access, file sharing and virtual collaboration. At the same time, more enlightened leaders have developed beyond ‘common and control’ strategies to trust based servant leadership approaches to create cultures where employees feel trusted, empowered, valued and measured on impact and contribution and not attendance.

I’ve worked from home on and off for many years, and do so more and more these days. Over that time I’ve developed practices that work for me. With the coronavirus (nCOV) leading many companies to consider home working for their employees, some for the first time or in significantly large numbers, I’ve distilled the practices that work for me into the following tips:

  1. Create a dedicated space, a home office, rather than working in a space that gets used for other things (kitchen, dining table, etc…). Maintaining this separation helps to maintain focus and it’s just annoying to have to clear up your laptop and papers for each mealtime!
  2. Play background music. I find this helps me to maintain focus and I actually did this when I had a designated workplace office. There’s research that suggests playing music helps to maintain concentration. I tend to pick instrumental music and often only notice it’s playing when I get distracted.
  3. Use your e-calendar and create a daily and weekly “to do” list. It works when in the office, so why wouldn’t you apply the same in the “home office”?
  4. Stay connected with colleagues, customers and suppliers through video, voice and text media, and use file sharing technology to maintain collaboration and regular communication.
  5. Work with your boss and colleagues to define a way of working remotely that satisfies the needs of all and supports productivity.
  6. Leave the house every day to go for a walk…a change of scenery is often all we need to refresh and can be great when you need to do some creative thinking. It also gives the opportunity for some real human contact; face-to-face communication can do wonders for our sense of well being.
  7. Don’t eat at your desk, rather eat in the kitchen, in the dining area, on the porch, anywhere just not at your desk. Do yourself a favour and take a proper break both physically and mentally!
  8. If there’s someone else in the house, get them involved and create a joint approach to how you’re going to use the space and time whilst you’re together. Consider investing in a good pair of headphones (noise cancelling) so you can focus whilst others get on with their day.

And finally, talk with other people who work from home to learn their tips and tools. There are some amazing efficiency tools and good practices out there that are tried and tested.

Working from home can free up a lot of low-productive time (eg, travelling to and from the office) and give us a sense of control of how we integrate work and life into a balance that meets the needs of the many aspects of our lives.

It doesn’t work for everyone or for all types of jobs, or all of the time. However, if it needs to be done for medical reasons or to fit a particular operating model, it deserves to be done with due care and attention.

What are the things that make working from home really productive and engaging for you? Do let me know in the comments below.

Lesz Sikorski

  • People Strategist, coach and advisor with 30 years global MNC experience in leading change and organisation development
  • Certificated professional coach
  • Lived on 2 continents, worked on 6 and visited over 45 countries
  • Previous roles have included HR Director APAC, Group Head of Organisational Development, Project Director – Change & Development and Global Programme Manager, Operational Improvement