For some, this transition into working from home has been remarkable and a dream come true, i.e., me. It has been a fantastic time focusing on being hyper-productive with no distractions from unfamiliar environments or officemates while balancing time to play with my pets and working out in my pajamas right before I start working. However, this sudden change has not gone as seamlessly for others. Some find themselves spending their 9-5 answering two emails and scrolling endlessly through the documents folder. This shows that there are those who are more cut out for the office environment. So, which one are you?
Some personality traits enable them to adjust quickly to the new world of remote working, but it is never about whether they’d be good or bad at it. It is simply that some people will have to put in more effort than others, which includes:
Procrastination at its finest
Procrastination has never been made easier than when your superior is not breathing down your neck. As long as your status shows that you’re on your computer, it’s easy to take some quick peeks into the kitchen to make some snacks or dive into a Youtube hole with no one to tell you otherwise. As Timothy Pychyl, an Associate Psychology Professor at Carleton University in Ontario described it, a similar situation would be when we’re in an elevator. We all have that ‘elevator act’ where we avoid eye contact and keep our distance as much as possible. Similarly, the office comes with expectations from dress codes, arrival and departure times, and time spent on or off task.
Without that sense of urgency at home, it’s easier for some to succumb to their procrastination. This includes avoiding tasks they don’t want to do by getting up from their desktop to find a distraction. According to Pychyl, “If you’re easily getting frustrated, then you’re going to run away from [work] and use avoidance as a coping mechanism, which will shoot you in the foot.” Hence, be aware of your frustration signals. When you have the urge to leave your screen, break the tasks into bite-sized. By focusing on the less frustrating bits first, your work is still progressing, and you are still keeping your pants glued to your seat.
Make boundaries a thing
One problem that people working from home is experiencing but don’t see its severity is their lack of boundaries with ‘domain specificity’. You might see your dining table as both a spot to eat and your work desk. However, it’s important to note that we take on different role identities in different environments. For instance, you handle tasks a certain way when you’re in your office but another when you’re back home. Nonetheless, when work and personal matters occur in the same space, you will lack that cue signaling how you should behave while working and during leisure time.
As Pychyl said, if you suit the ‘working from home’ phenomenon, you should create boundaries between work and home life. The most productive remote workers also don’t feel the need to be tethered to their desks. This means you can still get up and cook some food and know when you should get back to work in a specific amount of time. Some might find this difficult once they’ve gotten out of that working headspace, but with practice, working from home will be a breeze.
Types of energy shots
The way you derive your energy is a huge factor to consider when it comes to remote productivity. If you are extroverted and rely on your social environment to enjoy your job, then remote work will be difficult. According to Julie Morgenstern, a New York-based productivity and organization consultant, “if you’re by yourself all day, you just don’t get those energy shots, which can make it hard to feel motivated and focused”. Hence, a good step is to set up regular calls with colleagues who are going through that same withdrawal.
Now, does that mean being an introvert makes it so much easier to work from home? Not necessarily because, as an introvert myself, I thrive working alone from home. However, having to face multiple video calls per week is a challenge in itself. The discomfort and anxiety that come with being the sole focus of a camera when you’re speaking during video calls or texting in group chats are anything but easy. With that, a balance of introversion and extroversion makes it the ideal sweet spot for productivity. You can get a boost of energy from team interaction and alone time from remote working.
Don’t fret yourself
Understand that you are not alone. It is difficult for everyone to classify their stress when forced to be in a home setting everyday. Regardless, the more you practice, the faster you adjust to your ‘new normal.