How to overcome some of the drawbacks of working from home

How to overcome some of the drawbacks of working from home

It has been seven months since Canada, North American and most of the world went into a state of lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

In a matter of days schools, daycares, stores, restaurants and businesses either closed their doors or changed how they do businesses, and millions of people started working from home. In Canada alone, 4.7 million people who don’t normally work from home started to in March in response to the pandemic, according to a report from Statistics Canada.

While some businesses and offices have started to reopen and return to a “new normal” of sorts, for many employees working from home is here to stay, at least for the time being.

According to a survey by Vancouver-based polling firm Research Co., 73% of Canadians surveyed think the trend of working from home will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. However, survey respondents were a bit more split on whether or not it’s a good thing.

While 65% said they would like to work from home more often once the pandemic is over, almost half (46%) said they find working from home difficult because of distractions.

GOBanking Rates, a personal finance website, recently posted a list of the best and worst things about working from home.

Here’s 5 drawbacks of working from home and some things you can do to help.

1. Interruptions

Unless you live alone, you will likely face interruptions from a spouse, partner, roommate or kids who don’t totally understand that even though you are home, you are still working. Working from home while caring for a small child, or children, is particularly challenging and requires additional support from your employer and family members. However, when it comes to adults and older children, it can help to set boundaries so they know when they can talk to you or enter your workspace. 

GoBankingRates suggests establishing “do not disturb” hours.

2. No, or limited, tech support

Most office employees are used to having easy access to an IT department when the internet goes down or a laptop malfunctions. Someone from your company’s IT department might be able to help you remotely, however, it’s not the same as being in the same place as your tech support and that can leave you trying to deal with tech troubles on your own. 

Try to familiarize yourself with some basic trouble shooting methods for whatever computer system you’re using and when in doubt, Google it. Chances are you’re not the first person to have that particular problem.

3. Staying motivated

It is easier to stay on track in an office environment. You might share office space with colleagues, or your boss or manager could step into your office or cubicle at any moment to check on the progress of a project. However, when you’re working from home it can be tempting to take longer breaks or get sucked into doing other non-work-related things. 

It can help to keep a “To Do” list to prioritize tasks and stay organized. Assign each one an attainable deadline. This will help keep you on track and there is something to be said about crossing a completed item off your list. 

4. Working 24/7

When there is little to no separation between work and home, it can be easy to get sucked into the habit of responding to emails and messages in the evening or on weekends, or extending your work day well past when you would usually be heading home from the office. 

To avoid this, it can help to set up a separate closed-off work area, if space permits. As well, try to set boundaries and stick to your usual work hours, even though you’re working from home.

5. Isolation  

Most Canadians spend the majority of their waking hours working and, for some people the workplace is a big part of their social life. If you’re working from home and live alone that can mean you are spending most of your time by yourself.

It might be a bit more difficult these days, but it is important to try to maintain some aspects of your social life. Schedule a regular virtual happy hour or coffee with friends. Socializing, even by video chat, can be beneficial. Or try a physically distanced meet up at a park or beach. The combination of social interaction and fresh air is good for your health and can help boost your mood.

Published on Sept. 23, 2020.