Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more and more people were working from home part or full time. Some companies were already moving to remote work models, and there were increasing numbers of people choosing to work remotely as online entrepreneurs and freelancers. The UK freelance sector grew 53% between 2008 and 2019.
This trend increased sharply with the sudden onset of the pandemic, with lockdowns forcing teams to work from home across multiple industries. Even as the pandemic comes under control, many businesses are choosing to continue with the remote work model, whether due to health concerns or because companies have discovered the advantages of this kind of work.
Remote work has many benefits, such as increased flexibility for employees, and reducing overheads for businesses.
However, it also has its drawbacks. One of the biggest challenges of remote work is how to stay motivated working from home. Distractions, loneliness, poor lifestyle habits, and other factors can wreak havoc on our motivation levels when our home becomes our office. This in turn can impact poorly on productivity, as well as negatively affecting your work-life balance and emotional wellbeing.
Challenges and solutions: how to stay motivated when working from home
Here are some of the key challenges involved in working from home, and some tips on how to address them.
One of the most difficult parts of working from home is undoubtedly all the distractions you face. There is always the temptation to get things done, such as errands, housework, and cooking, not to mention that you may be interrupted by your children, partner, or flatmate.
Here are some approaches that can help you manage distractions and stay focused:
- Create a dedicated work space. If you can, set up a room in your home as an office, or set up an area of a room as a work space. Designate this as a work space by decorating it differently and keeping it clean and tidy.
- Create a schedule. Schedule both work tasks and housekeeping into your calendar, and stick to the schedule.
- When your day is over, close your laptop and put it away. This will ensure you don’t reach for it outside of work hours and it will help create boundaries between work and personal time.
Loneliness is another big challenge associated with working from home. You may have gone from working in a busy office all day to not seeing any other people on an average day, which can take its toll on your mental health, and in turn damage your motivation.
These are some ways that you can tackle loneliness when working from home:
- Organise online co-working with colleagues, fellow students or friends on Zoom. You can use a Pomodoro timer to plan 25- or 50-minute work sessions, then turn on the camera and sound for 5- to 10-minute breaks together.
- Schedule social time into your calendar. Go for a walk with a friend during lunch break, or set up a Zoom coffee date with them if you are social distancing.
- Organise a monthly online activity with colleagues or fellow students. This could be online workshops and activities you can do together, even if you are social distancing or in different locations.
Loneliness can also become a problem when studying from home, if you don’t have the right support as part of your online studies. At EDHEC, we work to avoid loneliness through a human-centred approach that keeps students connected and motivated. Our students have the support of an academic mentor, career coaches, and other EDHEC staff, as well as a peer network that you can reach out to when you need help. The support network is vital to maintaining motivation and keeping you on track in your studies.
It can be hard to stick to healthy habits when working from home. These tips can help you to keep healthy:
- Prepare your food in batches over the weekend. This way, you won’t need to worry about cooking and shopping while also balancing work commitments. You can just grab a pre-made healthy meal from the fridge instead.
- Get creative and find different working positions such as sitting on the floor, standing up, or sitting at a desk, and switch between them to keep your body from slouching in just one position. Get a laptop stand that you can use in a healthy posture, with your back and neck straight and your computer at eye-level.
- Take breaks away from your computer and get out in the fresh air if possible. Go for a brisk walk after lunch or do some gentle stretching as well as wrist and neck exercises during these breaks.
- Make an effort to stay hydrated by keeping a jug of water or a big thermos of herbal tea on your desk. It can be hard to remember to drink enough water, so setting reminders throughout the day can help with this.
Staying focused and on task at home
Staying focused, productive, and motivated when working from home is not easy. The secret of how to stay motivated working from home largely comes down to managing distractions, combating loneliness, and doing simple things to stay healthy.
Another great way to stay on track and keep motivated is to take advantage of the flexibility of remote work to expand your skills and knowledge through online education. By choosing to study at a quality institution like EDHEC, you’ll have the peer support and mentorship to keep you motivated when studying from home.
EDHEC offers a range of online courses as part of our human-centred online learning approach.