How to work from home without getting paranoid and burnt out.
So much for avoiding drama by working in your pajamas.
Many remote employees worry that telecommuting lets their in-office colleagues gossip about them and take over their projects.
According to a new survey from David Maxfield and Joseph Grenny, social scientists and authors of the best-sellers “Crucial Conversations” and “Crucial Accountability,” more than half (52%) of employees who work from home feel their on-site colleagues don’t treat them equally.
The study found that 41% of remote staff believe coworkers say bad things about them behind their backs, compared with 31% of in-office workers fretting the same thing. And 64% of remote workers believe their coworkers make changes to projects without warning them (compared to 31% of onsite employees), and 35% of remote workers also felt that colleagues lobbied against them with others (versus 26% of onsite employees).
And working from home – as good as it sounds – doesn’t just make you paranoid. It also results in more work.
People who work remotely have a hard time calling it quits, according to recent study at the University of Cardiff in the UK, which found that those who WFH were more likely to clock in more hours than the normal work day, and put in more effort than needed. They also found people were more likely to have trouble turning off “work mode” and unwinding.
“Traditionally, we have had spatial boundaries made for us by offices, shops and factories, which mean that home and other places of leisure are separated from work,” said Alan Felstead, a research professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University in Wales. “However remote work blurs those lines and workers have to reinstate boundaries. That is often why it is difficult [for employees] to switch off.”
And some top American CEOs agree that working from home has major downsides. Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reversed the company’s “Work From Home” policy in 2013 acknowledging that “people are more productive when they’re alone,” but defended her decision that “they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” And earlier this year, IBM chief marketing officer Michelle Peluso reversed the company’s decades-old work remotely policy to require thousands of workers to show up to an actual office working shoulder to shoulder with colleagues.
Even though working from home is comfortable and easy, it can be more stress inducing than working from the office. 41% of “highly mobile” employees who work remotely said they felt stressed, compared to 25% of office workers, according to Medical Xpress. Of those same at-home workers, 42% said they suffered from insomnia compared to just 29% of their co-workers at the office.
Still, many Americans find sending work emails in pajamas from the comfort of their own couch the ultimate job perk. A Microsoft survey from 2011 polled 4,000 workers and found that 44% felt they were less distracted and 45% reported that they got more stuff done at home. Work-life balance improved too with 29% noting they spent more time with family.
If you have a job that requires working remotely, there are still things you can do to work better. “If you’re having a difficult time setting work boundaries at home, you may consider working at a local cafe, library, coworking space, or renting a shared office for a few hours or a day,” time management expert Rashelle Isip tells Moneyish.
Here’s how to avoid burnout when working out of the office:
Change your location
Break up the day by finding a local coffee shop to work from.
“Make sure to only bring necessary work items with you,” says Isip. “Do everything you can to limit personal distractions; this may mean temporarily disabling your social media updates on your phone or laptop or logging out of your personal email accounts.”
Track your time
Set firm deadlines of how long you will work on each project using online time tracking systems like Harvest (getharvest.com) or set alarms and stick to them.
“Consider this time your office hours,” suggests Isip. “Try tracking all of your work hours for a few days or a week. This way, you’ll have a reference point, and can gauge how many hours you’re logging. You can then make time adjustments as necessary, either to cut back on your work hours, or ensure you are doing your work during those times.”
Separate work and personal email
Stop checking your personal email when you’re on the clock.
“Commingled email accounts make it difficult to separate work from personal life. Ideally, you should only have work emails going to your work email address, and personal emails going to your personal email address,” urges Isip.
Create a routine
Start the day early to get everything on your agenda done and set a “treat” for yourself to work towards, whether it’s happy hour, a dinner out or a guilt-free binge watch session.
“The idea here is to open your day with a task and end your day with a complementary task,” says Isip.
“End of the day with reviewing your to-do list for tomorrow, clean up your workstation, or send follow up emails.”
Then have fun.
This story was originally published on Oct. 6, 2017, and has been updated with the new survey on remote workers.
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