THOUGHTS ON THE MARKET

From digital distractions to dopamine detox: Preparing for a tech-first era

September 30, 2020

The current extended work from home (WFH) period has left both leaders and employees with mixed feelings. A good chunk of the workforce swear by their newfound efficiency and many studies back this claim. Proprietary data from Prodoscore this year indicates a 47% rise in productivity despite WFH becoming the norm for many. On the other hand, there are a fair number of people for whom work from home is not wholly ideal. For instance, 61% of respondents, as per a Knight Frank survey in May 2020, said their productivity had either decreased or stayed the same during the enforced WFH to prevent the spread of COVID -19.

Another recent survey of around 3,000 American employees revealed that 30% were less productive as they worked from home during the pandemic. What’s more, these employees were working fewer hours a day from home than they normally would at the office. A 2020 Mentimeter survey further revealed that for 30% of workers, family and those at home were the main distractions, and 28% cited technology-related disruptions as the next big hindrance.

While pursuing output and efficiency, the global WFH module set in place during the pandemic, according to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, could actually lead to a worldwide productivity slump and threaten economic growth for many years. “We are home working alongside our kids, in unsuitable spaces, with no choice and no in-office days,” he explains. Various studies and surveys support this assertion, adding other relevant factors to the productivity slump such as lack of face to face meetings and collaboration with colleagues, lower mental stimuli at home, as well as the proclivity to sleep more and take longer breaks.

Keeping the pros and cons of WFH aside, adapting to a WFH setting is a skill that the modern-day employees must have. After all, companies across geographic boundaries have announced their plans to have permanent WFH policies in place even after the threat of the current pandemic fades away.

Like every other new skill or a new habit, developing this skill is easier said than done. For one, it does not just boil down to securing a high-speed internet connection, an ergonomic chair and a high-spec laptop. To succeed at being productive while working from home requires a healthy dose of discipline, whether it is with home and family or the predominantly digital environment that the modern workforce has been suddenly shifted into.

Here is an actionable 13-point checklist you can refer to time and again to enhance your output while working from home.

1. Get an early start to the day

2. Create a workspace that allows for quiet focus

 3. Give your day a structure and clock in and out at set times

 4. Put your kids on a schedule and set house rules

 5. Slot in time for household chores and meal prep

 6. Say no to multitasking between home and work tasks

 7. Use technology to keep away social media and internet distractions

 8. Devise a strategy to responding to emails and chats

 9. Dress well even if you aren’t going on a video call!

 10. Discover ways of keeping in touch with your colleagues

 11. Plan for a time of digital detox every day and week

 12. Take clear, offline breaks and interact with people around you

 13. Exercise and ensure all your leisure time isn’t spent in front of a screen