The trend of work-from-home arrangements is growing globally. And with its growth, the challenges that come with it become increasingly apparent for both employees and business owners. One of these challenges is handling working from home distractions.
A 2020 survey published at Statista reveals that 47 percent of respondents consider managing temptations such as doing dirty dishes, watching binge-worthy movies, and visiting social media as some of the biggest distractions when working from home. Let’s explore the everyday distractions that virtual employees often encounter and proven and hassle-free strategies to combat them.
9 Common Distractions While Working from Home
A robust, flexible work strategy can reduce impediments and minimize the tendency to procrastinate. Being mindful of the common disruptions that remote teams may experience is critical to fostering a progressive environment. Here are nine of the most common remote work distractions to look out for and tips to help maintain a focused and productive workweek.
1. Interruption from family members
One of the benefits of remote employment is spending more time with your family and friends. However, this benefit can also become a diversion if you’re setting yourself available for family engagements during your work hours. Establishing a robust time management strategy is an excellent way to limit distractions that may inevitably arise from non-work engagements.
For instance, a remote team member is trying to focus on a critical project, but their child keeps asking for help with schoolwork. The team member might be compelled to break focus on the task at hand to assist their child, reducing their productivity and potentially delaying their project.
Setting up dedicated work intervals can help in mitigating these types of risks and ensure uninterrupted office arrangements. Consider leaving a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door that can effectively communicate your availability status to your family members. Lastly, setting up a framework that enables family members to easily access things they might need without bothering you can be the simplest solution.
2. Household chores
The blend of personal and professional spaces in a remote setup often blurs the line between duty and home responsibilities. This often leads to off-site workers multitasking across job duties, domestic tasks, and other commitments that can impact their productivity.
For instance, a remote worker may be in the middle of a crucial task when they remember that the laundry needs to be done soon or it will be a pain in the neck. The thought of an overflowing laundry basket might distract and cause one to lose focus on action items. These types of rabbit hole spirals are almost nonexistent in a traditional office.
Separating office hours and chores can help avoid distractions, ensuring that you get your work done on time. Moreover, maintaining a dedicated workstation can help reinforce the mental separation between employment and home life. Virtual staff might also consider using breaks efficiently to accomplish household chores.
Childcare is a significant challenge for remote workers, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2020 survey from People Magazine found that parents are interrupted by their children during home office meetings, and video calls about 25 times a week, with more distractions occurring when there are kids learning from home.
Without a proper framework for child care, teleworkers may experience difficulties concentrating on tasks, resulting in heightened stress levels. Juggling responsibilities as a parent while meeting employment obligations can reduce efficiency and lead to suboptimal performance/missed deadlines.
Remote teams can mitigate these issues by utilizing available resources (babysitting) and planning engaging activities to keep children preoccupied. Leveraging flexible workday arrangements and seeking child care assistance is also an option for attending to children’s needs without sacrificing your productivity.
4. Unexpected visitors
Entertaining unexpected visitors, whether your friends or your family’s acquaintances, can cause distractions during your “office hours”. Engaging with visitors can slow down or even halt your overall productivity, and it would be difficult to get into the zone again. A study from the University of California found that it takes around 23 minutes to regain mental focus on your previous task post-interruption.
Furthermore, visitors may unintentionally pressure teleworkers to set aside productive periods for social interaction, even when critical tasks are at hand. Moreover, the presence of visitors might lead to additional issues, such as increased noise levels and potential internet slowdowns if they’re also using your Wi-Fi network.
To mitigate these disruptions, it’s crucial to establish boundaries and clearly communicate your schedule to visitors/family members who are expecting visitors. If feasible, consider adjusting your hours to align with your visitors’ activities or relocating to a quieter in-office remote workflow.
According to Veterinarians.org, 67% of pet parents usually prefer working remotely. Pets like cats, dogs, and birds are cited as the most common distractions for remote employees.
Dogs may require attention and walks during the day, cats may meow for outdoor access, and birds might need a time out of their cages. These demands can break focus and prioritization, which can decrease efficiency and output.
Keeping your pets tired with sufficient exercise and play can minimize attention-seeking tendencies from your pets. Being patient with your pets can also help you maintain a healthy remote environment at home. Remember, pets can also provide companionship and help lower stress levels.
6. Neighborhood disturbances
Remote employment is here to stay, and it has greatly affected the suburb real estate market within the last few years. More and more remote workers are moving into the suburbs for cheaper housing, according to research done by Harvard JCHS. Surprisingly, this change has spurred new reasons to be frustrated with your lively neighbors.
According to MND, neighborhood noises became a complex issue during the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased remote arrangements. Background noise from neighborhood activities, such as children playing, or lawn mowing can make it challenging to get anything done.
Digital nomads can invest in noise-canceling headphones or use white noise machines to mask disruptive sounds. It’s also effective to establish a quiet, dedicated office space away from the source of the noise.
7. Uncomfortable workspace setup
Poor workspace setups can greatly slow down your daily efficacy. According to Cornell University, poor ergonomics can reduce productivity by up to 20%. The physical discomfort and visual strain can lead to a point where workers simply can’t focus, causing a significant decrease in output.
Often, virtual workers repurpose dining chairs and kitchen tables as office furniture, which are not ergonomic or comfortable. These makeshift setups can cause unnatural postures and distracting discomfort, which can also lead to long-term health problems.
To counteract this, invest in ergonomic furniture to maintain a good posture. Adequate lighting, especially natural, can also reduce eye strain. Regular short breaks for stretching and resting the eyes are beneficial. Small adjustments like these can substantially boost productivity and well-being in a remote work setup.
8. Social media and online browsing
Reports from Zippia show that the average person spends over two hours a day on social media, which for remote staff translates into substantial potential time and productivity lost. In the same study, 61.6% of correspondents spend their time on social media when using their phones.
It’s easy to imagine common scenarios: a quick peek at Facebook turns into an hour-long scroll, a notification from Instagram interrupts workflow, or a “short” online shopping break consumes more time than intended.
Allocating specific “internet browsing” breaks can help in reducing time spent on social media. You can also utilize productivity tools or apps that limit social media access and turn off notifications during your “office hours”.
9. Home Entertainment
The convenience and accessibility of TV shows, video games, and other entertainment mediums at home can lead to substantial distraction and procrastination. This can include extended “breaks” to watch just one more episode of a TV show or to progress in a video game.
Working on a separate physical office free of home entertainment devices is recommended to ensure that you’re focused on important tasks and not on your entertainment devices. A solid remote work schedule with defined short breaks can also help to avoid overindulgence in entertainment.
When done right, managing distractions at home can be a game changer for your productivity and work-life balance when you’re working from home. This positive change can be amplified with the right tools, such as second monitor and communication tools that streamline your work process.
You can minimize distractions by using a clean and easy-to-use client portal with project management capabilities like Ahsuite. This tool simplifies client interaction and reduces the time spent on emails and multiple account management. You can try the aforementioned functionalities through a 30-day trial.