Making WFH Great: 4 Practical Solutions To WFH’s Greatest Struggles

Between cramped WFH spaces, blurred work-life boundaries, longer working hours, and higher stress levels, WFH isn’t without its own set of challenges. As recent surveys indicate, though, most Singaporeans are still keen on incorporating WFH (one way or another) into their post-pandemic work routines.

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Regardless of the extent to which WFH becomes a part of everyday working life in the future, though, this much is true: measures have to be taken by all parties to ensure that well-being is maintained, productivity levels are at least preserved, if not vastly improved.

To that end, here are 4 practical solutions to WFH’s greatest struggles.

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Problem 1: Longer working hours
Solution 1: Find ways to do more in less time

Presumably, one of the greatest benefits of WFH is the time savings it confers upon employees. With no more commutes and a home-based workspace, you should technically have more time to spend on leisure or with your families.

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Studies have shown, though, that these time savings end up being replaced with more unproductive work during WFH. The solution, then, is simple: find ways to save time by cutting out unproductive work.

 

Conduct a personal time audit

Being busy all the time doesn’t necessarily equate to being as productive as you can. Track exactly where your WFH time goes every day for at least a week At the end of it, use the data you’ve obtained to peruse your daily schedules vis-a-vis the following questions:

  • Which tasks do you spend the most time on, and what is the nature of these tasks? Are they high-priority? Important as compared to urgent?
  • Are you spending enough time on your higher-priority tasks? How can you re-allocate your time in such a way that you spend less time on “shallow work”–work that doesn’t require as much cognitive processing and, though necessary, won’t make as much of a difference to your business objectives?
  • What takes up the most of your time and why? Email, for example, tends to take up much more time than necessary. Is it necessary to be spending so much time on it, or are you somehow falling back on being occupied as a measure of being productive?

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Hone your concentration skills

Cultivate your cognitive ability to quickly get “in the zone” and out of it. Practice makes progress; in time, you’ll take less time to get into deep-focus mode and be able to work in longer and longer stretches of distraction-free time.

 

 

Problem 2: Poor self-management practices
Solution 2: Know yourself.

When it comes to self-management, different people need different things to be at their most productive and engaged at work. WFH presents the perfect opportunity to calibrate yourself and learn about what you personally need in order to be your best self.

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Ask yourself questions like:

  • Are you more productive when you work in 30-minute blocks of intense focus followed by 5-minute breaks (as in the Pomodoro technique), or when you sit down for a solid 2 or 3 hours of uninterrupted work?
  • When are you at your most creative: when you’re brainstorming alone, or bouncing ideas off your co-workers?
  • What are your biggest sources of motivation, and how can you incorporate that into each WFH day?
  • How can you turn your WFH workspace into the ideal environment for optimal personal performance?
  • Do you work better when you have a precisely planned schedule for your WFH day, or when you have a little more flexibility in it?

 

 

Problem 3: WFH Burnout
Solution 3: Implement better work-life boundaries

WFH has evidently forced a general well-being shift from work-life balance to work-life integration. Part and parcel of adapting to the new normal therefore entails learning how to adjust to the far more blurred boundaries between “work” and “life” in WFH. Enforcing stronger work-life boundaries for yourself is critical in hedging against WFH burnout.

 

Implement a “shutdown” ritual at the end of every WFH day

According to NYT bestselling author Cal Newport, to facilitate your brain’s transition out of “work mode”, it needs to stop continuously tracking and remembering unfinished tasks in the background.

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Shutdown rituals must consist of:

  • a list of all unfinished tasks for the day
  • a “next actionable step” for each unfinished task to allow your brain to easily pick right back up where you left off the next day

 

Get ready for work like you used to pre-pandemic

Change out of your pyjamas and into something more office-ready, physically delineate your WFH workspace from the rest of your house. Preserving simple pre-pandemic routines in this way goes a long way in helping your brain change gears from “work” to “life” more effectively.

 

 

Problem 4: Frequent miscommunications
Solution 4: Streamline & document communication norms

As with any collaborative setting, healthy communication is essential to effective teamwork and high performance. WFH, however, amplifies the need for smooth communication within and between teams.

Without the normal amount of face-to-face interaction to provide emotional context and non-verbal cues for healthy communication, it’s easy to misread or misunderstand your co-workers (and vice versa), particularly when it comes to conflict resolution.

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Instead of assuming that everyone communicates the same way, be sure that you all agree on a specific and clear set of communication norms, such as:

  • How fast are people required to reply to work chats?
  • Is everyone comfortable with being contacted after working hours?
  • What virtual signals will team members use when they need to focus without getting interrupted?

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