It’s no surprise that the 2012 Olympics have taken their toll on the London traffic and public transit systems. With the city overwhelmed, many workers from executives to designers and librarians are being encouraged to stay away from the office and work from home. What’s resulted is one of the longest experiments in remote-working on a mass scale, leaving some wondering whether productivity will be affected. Well, according to Inc. contributor, Margaret Hoffman, it will, but in a positive way.
Remote-working environments tend to promote particular changes in the way we engage with our work, and they can teach us some important lessons that employers should take home even after the experiment is over.
1) Autonomy can be good for productivity
Obviously, if you’re working from home, you’re your own boss for most of the day, and that means increased responsibility. It’s argued that as our level of control we have over our work increases, so too does our engagement and our investment in it. Having strict operating procedures can often backfire for this very reason.
2) Don’t interrupt
Granted, not everyone has a more peaceful environment at home (as most new parents would agree), but for those who consider their home a quiet sanctuary, the difference in working environment can be massive. The human brain just isn’t very good at multi-tasking, nor are we particularly good at switching quickly from one task to another. Disruptions force us to change gears constantly and trying to re-gain your focus can be both tiring and time consuming. Avoid micromanagement and other disruptive management techniques that break an employee’s concentration.
3) Encourage your employees to take real breaks
People who work from home tend to come back far more refreshed after a break. In part because they can take one when they need it, rather than at a mandated time, but also because they’re far more likely to actually leave their work and do something relaxing. Telling your workers to eat lunch at their desk is not the same as letting them get some fresh air and dipping out of the office for a while. If you’re going to let your employees take breaks, let them do it their way. Think of it like snacking. It’s not supposed to be healthy in the first place, so if someone’s got a craving for sweets, just tell them to grab some ice cream instead of guilting them into a fruit salad.
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