Motivating ourselves to work at our optimum while adapting to being perpetually indoors has been increasingly difficult. Now, imagine compounding this by having to be creative as part of your job. You’re not alone, these are things you need to be mindful of
Lifestyles have had to change as a response to the pandemic and this has affected our wellbeing in more ways than one. However, the fact that there is little to no difference in expectations between the office and our home(s) has been the biggest challenge yet. The pressure that comes with fulfilling work responsibilities, adjusting to your new ‘office’, dealing with domestic responsibilities and mental health challenges that have either worsened or been triggered can affect productivity levels. Organisational Psychologist and founder of Sharon Munyaka Inc., Dr Sharon Munyaka, weighs in on how to deal with these dynamics while being kind to ourselves.
Does productivity increase or decrease when working remotely?
Munyaka says this depends on an individual’s preferred environment that ignites productivity. “Some people find that they’re more productive at home; some people need a structured environment – a place that says, ‘I am at work’.”
What hinders productivity?
- Munyaka speaks of the psychology of space, which ArchDaily describes as the interaction between people and the spaces they inhabit. “So, depending on how your home situation is setup, that can negatively impact on your productivity,” she says; especially in environments where it’s a shared space.
- Mindset – Munyaka says for some people home is an environment in which they relax and now that they’re required to share that space with work, and “it’s difficult to change gear” but it’s about understanding that “you are working irrespective of where you are”.
- Time management – Unlike the office where knock off time symbolises a physical transition, Munyaka explains that “anxiety levels [have increased] because people are afraid of losing their jobs, they’re [always] in the same physical space so [they] don’t really know when to stop”.
- Lack of rest – Munyaka says taking leave is also important but people don’t see how they can take leave when they are home; but, “actually you need to give yourself permission to stop”.
How can people stimulate productivity at home?
Planning – Munyaka says you must first assess your household dynamics as well as the time of day you are most productive so that you can manage your day accordingly. She also advises that you make your manager aware of your situation and set alternative timelines for your work.
Managers – She says management approaches need to change; where prompt responses aren’t interpreted as working instead of prioritising output.
Self-care – Munyaka encourages outdoor and physical activities because they help you to disconnect from work and come back feeling refreshed.
Take breaks – “It’s important to take breaks during the day; same as you would at work, take lunch, take a powernap for 30 minutes,” she says.
Dealing with work-from-home-guilt
WFHG is a phenomenon that has to do with the fear that your colleagues will assume that you’re contributing less or being less productive when working from home than those who are office-bound. But, Munyaka says accepting this new-found reality and prioritising output instead of the environment is the first important step. She adds that “managers’, expectations need to be adjusted so that people are also at ease,” because the constant work-related progress checks also create guilt and employees who want to always be busy instead of productive.
Munyaka additionally suggests asking for a coach to help with the transition and transparency with family about your workday. At the same time, she says some self-management and regulation is needed but most importantly to seek help because, “there is nothing shameful about mental illness”.