As I was working from home one day a couple months ago, I had one of those moments where you picture an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. It was a tough day - really tough.
I was completely exhausted from a long three days at EBN's Benefits Forum & Expo (read our coverage from the event on pages 8, 12 and 16), and returned home to gray weather and scores of to-do items that had been piling up while I was gone. I was tired, overwhelmed and wanted nothing more than to chuck it all and go veg out on my couch to watch DVRed episodes of "Modern Family."
Seeing as said couch was just mere yards away, it would have been easy to give in and veg away. So, instead of trying to work from the cozy comfort of my living room, I fought temptation by working from the island in my kitchen - lots of light, a high-backed chair and no remote control for as far as my eyes could see.
However, according to a new CareerBuilder survey, some of my fellow teleworkers are giving in to their darker angels. Teleworkers confessed to these top distractions when working from home:
* Household chores (31%).
* TV (26%).
* Pets (23%).
* Errands (19%).
* Internet (18%).
* Children (15%).
In fact, some are so distracted, that 17% of Americans who telework at least part of the time spend one hour or less actually working.
These stats definitely did not sit well with one commenter on EBN's blog, Employee Benefit Views. "I know I am ... more productive, effective and efficient as a direct result of telecommuting versus being in an office," telecommuter commented, adding that the survey takes an "imbalanced and improper view of what telecommuting is all about. From my experience, it's high productivity and efficiency - not chores and Oprah re-runs."
Duly noted. To be clear, the survey only noted the distractions teleworkers confess to giving in to occasionally - not that they're doing these tasks rather than working entirely.
Still, "to avoid situations where teleworkers aren't putting in the necessary time, managers need to be clear about expectations and establish daily objectives," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR at CareerBuilder. "The autonomy of working from home can be very rewarding so long as it doesn't diminish productivity."
Haefner recommended the following tips to help teleworkers work as efficiently as possible:
* Keep a normal routine. I have two small kids who need to be up, dressed, fed and off to school every morning, save federal holidays - check.
* Find the best spot to work. See aforementioned high-backed chair at the island - check.
* Stay connected to colleagues. Mine call, email and text me throughout the day - check.
* Plan breaks. Does carpooling my kids home from school count? If so, then check.
* Work at a coffee shop to maintain human contact. Just keeping it real, I can't do this one. Between people watching and all the macchiato refills, my productivity would plummet. Best to stay home at the kitchen island.
Yet, for all my mindfulness and Haefner's tips, another EBV commenter, Jean R, notes the irony: "I would argue that a company's fellow office workers are wasting just as much, if not more, time on the Internet. It is hard not to get sucked into reading and responding. This comment is actual proof." Touché.
What are your tricks for staying productive when working from home? Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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