The fact that many companies allow their employees to work more from home than before the COVID-19 pandemic, even now we can go back to the office, can be good for our personal-productivity and our job satisfaction.
Have you red “Brain Chains, Discover your brain and unleash its full potential in a hyperconnected multitasking world” by Dr. Theo Compernolle MD. PhD. ? If you read it, you might be surprised by all the amazing facts it contains about our brain and its potential. You might also be desperate in front of the number of changes we should do in our working habits to give our brain the right conditions to function properly.
One of the biggest Brain Chains Dr. Compernolle adresses in his book is the interruption. If you start working on task 1 for a few minutes and a colleague comes to ask you something about the file XYZ, you interrupt task 1 and switch to task 2 “manage the request about file XYZ”.
Your brain needs to disconnect from the set of data it was handling for task 1 and “load” the set of data it needs to handle task 2. When the question of task 2 is answered, your brain needs to disconnect from the data of task 2 and re-load the data of task 1.
It is a big loss of time, an under-optimised use of your own ressources, an increased risk of making mistakes and the source of un-satisfaction in your job.
The COIVD-19 opportunity
The Pandemic has shown us that many jobs can be done very well from home, and gave a boost in the trust of companies in the value of home working. Now that we can – in many countries – go back to the office, most of the companies are allowing their employees to work from home 2 to 3 days/week.
If you have the chance to have a quiet space to work from home, this post-pandemic new way of working is the opportunity to be more productive, make less mistake and feel much more satisfied about your job.
From home, you have the possibility to work with less or even no interruptions.
The key success factors : self-discipline, communication and a balanced home/office work
Working from home, I quickly realised I was probably the guy that interrupted myself the most… It is tempting to have a quick look at my emails, see if I have an answer to my question, or check the status of a given project when I see my colleague is online.
This way, wherever you decide to work, you will still be interrupted and never really benefit from your physical isolation.
So it takes a little self-discipline to fully benefit from your quiet office room at home. A useful “concept” to build self-discipline is to develop a habit loop (“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg if you want to know more about that…) and do it progressively. For instance, you decide to focus on a given task for 45 minutes, then you can take a break, then you work back for 45 minutes. The next week, you try to focus for 50 minutes without interrupting yourself, etc.
I found that timing myself while focusing on a task was very useful to avoid distractions. Trying at the same time to do the task as fast and well as I can indirectly help me better to focus. It’s a kind of game-like competition with myself and most of the time I am so focused on winning the game that I am not distracted at all.
If you don’t want to be interrupted, you’d better tell the people you usually work with about your intention to work uninterrupted at certain predefined moments. Most people understand it, do it themselves, or even encourage it. They will know you are not in a “do not disturb” status just for the fun. No, you are working seriously, willing to give the best of yourself, therefore putting yourself in the ideal working conditions.
For the other people in your professional network, they won’t be so much disturbed if you are not available for an hour or two. After all, it’s exactly the same as being in a meeting, it might just be more productive…
A balanced home/office work
Finally, the opportunity we have now is to balance home and office work, not doing 100% home or 100% office work. The more you will optimise your office work, the best you will be able to optimise your home working.
A combined Home and Office work organisation is an opportunity to arrange your days depending on the nature of the work at hand.
If you go to the office, it’s because there should be things you will do better at the office than at home. Like meeting people for instance… Why not take as a rule you attend to meetings when you are at the office, and you arrange as little calls as possible when you work from home?
Of course, one day is not the other and you have to be flexible. But it generally helps to have a framework and try to respect it as much as possible. It will help you keep the balance between home and office working, thus optimising both!
What about you?
What is your experience about finding this balance between home and office work? Do you manage to keep yourself focused on your tasks when you work from home? How do you do ? Do you manage to have meetings at the office and no/little distractions at home? What are your biggest obstacles to keep focusing on your work?
Please react in the comments, I am really interested about your experience!