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Various studies prove that employees are more productive at home, and yet more and more companies are pushing people to get back to the office.
In this post, we’ll look at 7 key factors that affect work-from-home productivity and the ways to approach them to maximize your performance in the home setting.
Whether you are a remote employee, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur with a home-based business, understanding these factors will help you increase your day-to-day productivity and keep it consistent.
Does working from home affect productivity?
Working from home can affect productivity both ways, but the impact varies depending on individual circumstances, remote workplace setup, and your ability to manage distractions.
While many employees experience increased productivity due to reduced coworker interruptions, time saved from commuting, and a flexible schedule, others may face challenges like decreased motivation, lack of personal discipline, or difficulties in setting boundaries between work and personal life.
Knowing and keeping all these factors under control will help you be more efficient when you are working from home.
According to a recent survey by Owl Labs on the state of remote work, 64% of people believe that the office is not the best place for individual productive work.
However, many people still struggle to keep themselves productive when they switch from office-based to remote or hybrid work.
When you are your own boss, or there is nobody there to control your progress and working hours, all the responsibility lies on your shoulders. You need to organize efficient daily routines and stick to them, set up a productive environment for yourself, and show up to your home office with the right mindset every single day.
Let’s take a look at seven important factors that affect your productivity at home and what you can do to make them work for you instead of against you!
7 factors affecting productivity at home
1. Dedicated workspace
First of all, you absolutely need to dedicate a specific space at home to function as your office if you want to be consistently productive.
It doesn’t have to be a separate room – obviously, for many people, it’s not realistic. There are plenty of tiny home office ideas out there where people get really creative and set up a cozy office even in the smallest corners of their homes.
By placing a dedicated workspace as the first factor affecting home productivity, I’m not saying you can’t be productive while working from your bed – you probably can.
However, your brain associates your bed with sleeping: this is most likely a strict pattern that you’ve been building for years. So it’ll require much more brainpower to work against your usual patterns related to that place and mindfully do something productive in bed for hours in a row.
Of course, you’ll probably break that pattern if you work in your bed every single day. But I’d rather not do this as it will inevitably mess with your sleep as a result!
In the same way, your living room sofa is likely associated with entertainment, and your kitchen table with food. Thus, you’ll be prone to constant self-distractions unless you organize a special place for yourself that is strictly connected with work.
Here are some must-have parts of a productive workspace at home:
- Stable and fast wifi connection. According to the post-lockdown survey on working from home, one in four remote workers have experienced difficulties related to the Internet connection, especially those with many meetings.
- Proper technical setup. From having a good-quality monitor to ensuring you look and sound good on video calls, investing in a good home office Zoom setup is a big step toward a productive and stress-free work-from-home experience.
- Ergonomic workspace. From sitting in a chair with good lumbar support to elevating your screen to eye level with a laptop riser, home ergonomics is not something to ignore if you plan to work remotely for a long time. Standing desks also have proven beneficial as opposed to sitting all day.
- Comfortable home office environment. It’s important to make your home workspace cozy and pleasant for yourself so you always feel your best when you are there and ready for productive work.
As long as you use your home office space exclusively for work, your brain will start creating the corresponding neural connections. It will help you spend your time effectively and essentially trigger “work mode ON” the moment you enter your office area.
2. Productivity tools
Using the right tools for your work is the key factor that influences productivity in the workplace, whether you work at home or elsewhere.
They help you organize and plan your workflow, eliminate distractions, focus on important work, and even automate repetitive tasks that are typical time-wasters!
Here are a few tools that can make your work easier:
- An online planning tool or a paper productivity planner to manage your projects effectively
- Focus apps to concentrate on one task and measure your daily productivity
- A note-taking app to keep all ideas organized
- A website blocker to limit the most common sources of distraction during working hours
- Apps to beat procrastination
Finally, artificial intelligence is developing like crazy, and introducing AI tools into your workflow can greatly increase your work-from-home productivity.
From AI email assistants that can keep your inbox clean and level up your outreach messages to creating engaging content and summarizing your meetings, there are a ton of surprising ways to use AI to be more productive.
The ability to have a flexible schedule is one of the main reasons people prefer to work remotely. In fact, 45% of surveyed workers name it as a key benefit that makes them not want to ever return to the office.
Personally, I hated sitting tight at the office for the same hours every day and not being able to go for a walk before it was dark outside. So being able to choose my own hours is a huge breath of fresh air!
Working from home gives you all that freedom to plan your day as you want it.
But it also means that you are responsible for your own time management and getting the work done, making self-discipline one of the biggest factors affecting work-from-home productivity.
You still need to define hours that work for you and allow you enough flexibility for other stuff you want to do during the day. You need a system. It’s impossible to be consistently productive at home every day without a system in place.
The are several known techniques for productivity improvement that you can leverage when you work from home – learn them and implement those that make sense for your workflow.
It’s tempting to spend hours on the phone, doing household chores, or playing video games when nobody is watching. But when at the end of the workday you don’t have anything to show, you won’t get far in your career or business.
4. Home distractions
Everyone’s home is different. For someone who lives alone, it may be a quiet and peaceful place compared to a crowded office. But for someone who lives in a small apartment with a big family and two dogs, it may be the opposite.
With so many different distractions at home, it’s no wonder there are still people who prefer to work at the office.
Other than just not being productive, science shows plenty of other negative effects of distractions on your performance, brain function, and mental health.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize distractions at home and increase your productivity:
- Set rules with your family members.
Teach your children not to disturb you when you are working. Occupy them with a quiet hobby that will grab their attention for a longer period of time. Come up with a system that makes it easier for everyone to support your work. At the very least, have that talk with whoever lives with you to make them understand your schedule and refrain from interrupting you.
- Use little helpful tools to avoid distractions.
- Limit your phone interactions.
I’m sure you faced a situation when you lost a chunk of time on thoughtless scrolling through a social media feed. Likely, more than once or twice, am I right? I can’t promise it will never happen to you again. But I have some tricks to minimize cellphone distractions that will help you focus on your work.
- Use focus tools.
Even if you are the master of self-discipline, you don’t have to always rely on your self-control. We are all humans! Since various digital services make it their mission to take your attention away, counteract their efforts with focus apps that keep your attention on the task.
5. Proper planning
Proper planning is a critical component of productivity when working from home, as it helps establish a clear roadmap for completing tasks efficiently on a daily basis.
A lack of planning can lead to disorganization, time wasted on unimportant work, and lower overall productivity. Here is how proper planning, or the lack thereof, affects your work-from-home productivity:
- Task prioritization.
Good planning enables you to identify and prioritize the most important tasks, ensuring that you allocate your time and resources effectively. Without planning, you may end up focusing on less critical tasks, which may result in unmet goals and missed deadlines.
- Time management.
A well-structured plan helps you estimate the time required for each task and allocate time slots accordingly. This prevents spending too much time on trivial tasks and reduces the likelihood of burnout. In contrast, the absence of planning can result in poor time management and inefficient use of your work hours.
- Goal setting.
Setting realistic, achievable goals helps maintain motivation and gives you a sense of purpose. For example, setting monthly and weekly goals in my blogging planner helps me stay productive and see my progress clearly.
A well-structured plan establishes deadlines and milestones, allowing you to hold yourself accountable for your progress. Without planning, it becomes easy to procrastinate or lose track of your responsibilities.
Being motivated to work is another one of the most important factors that influence the performance of remote employees.
It can impact your productivity both ways: from getting unmotivated and staying in bed all day to pushing yourself into burnout with 15-hour workdays. Personally, I have experienced both of these extremes at some point in my working-from-home journey, and I can tell you it’s not sustainable either way.
Even though working from home is considered more productive than working at the office by 76% of people, it can be less so if you are not motivated to do your best.
When you sit in an open office space, and someone is watching you all the time, or when you have to log your time and progress and get performance reviews, you can’t just be slacking all day. But when you work from home, there is often a nice comfy bed nearby that calls for you and nobody else to track your progress.
It’s obviously harder to be productive when you feel lazy at home, but it gets easier when you have clear goals, good motivation, and keep yourself accountable.
Usually, fair pay is enough to keep remote employees motivated, but there are plenty of other interesting ideas out there to keep your remote team inspired and willing to be more productive.
If you work for yourself, some things that help me stay motivated include watching inspirational videos before you start your day, setting SMART goals and tracking progress, and rewarding yourself when you get to a certain milestone.
7. Work-life balance
Maintaining a healthy balance between professional and personal responsibilities can positively impact your performance and increase your job satisfaction.
When you stay at home 24/7, it’s easy to get caught up in an endless cycle of chores. There are always things that need to be done and other seemingly urgent things that require your immediate attention.
Sometimes you get so busy running errands that you don’t find time for actual work, which is highly unlikely to happen when you work at the office. This means you need to be extra attentive to your time-spending patterns and have a clear line between work hours and leisure time.
Some of the factors affecting work-life balance include working overtime, maintaining a structured daily routine at home, managing distractions, and spending time on non-work-related activities during focus hours.
Working from home is much easier when you have an online calendar and use the time-blocking technique to focus on one thing at a time. Doing this allows you to see how much time you really have in a day and prioritize tasks accordingly.
As soon as you come up with a work schedule that works for you, you can build your day around it. Dedicate time to everything that’s important to you, whether it’s chores, time with your loved ones, a beauty routine, your daily workout, or even answering social media messages – and put it all in your calendar to avoid chaotic context-switching.
Remember, if you want to be productive at home, aim to maintain a clear work-life balance. Don’t sacrifice your work time for unrelated activities, and actually stop working when the workday is over!
Final thoughts on WFH productivity
Here you have them: seven crucial factors affecting your productivity levels at home.
Working from home is nothing like being in the office with all your team members, following processes organized by someone else, and enjoying a productive work environment by default. At home, you have to take your productivity into your own hands and make sure to address all of these important factors.
You need to create your own systems that influence your work in all the good ways: help you focus, remove distractions, and keep you motivated to do your best job every day.
Though a little more challenging and hands-on, this is also the best part of working from home! You can set up a perfect work environment that works for you, decorate it in a way that makes you feel motivated every time you show up to your home office, and enjoy being productive on your own turf!