Working From Home: Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Common Challenges

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The work-from-home and remote work set-up appears to have become the norm since the pandemic started. In April 2024, the Office of National Statistics reported that 46.6% of employees worked from home to some extent. And while some industries still struggle to come to terms with the shift, many businesses find working from home to be the most viable solution to the health crisis.

Shifting to a remote work set-up isn’t as seamless as one may think. Of course, there are unique challenges involved with not being in a standard office environment. In this article, we will discuss these issues and the best way to resolve them. We’ll also be providing recommendations on designing a work-from-home office with the right tools and supplies for optimum productivity.

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Setting up the perfect space for working from home

Before starting to work from home, you need to prepare the right space conducive to productivity. Here’s how to set up that space:

  1. Choosing a location. The location or space should be away from distractions and provide for unique work requirements. As much as possible, space should be dedicated only to work so that you can optimise productivity. A spare room, for example, is the perfect location. But, if you don’t already have a home office, perhaps a corner will do until you can create a more permanent setup.
  2. Identifying your needs. The needs of a work-from-home employee depend on the requirements of their job. For example, you may need a high-end computer instead of a laptop. It would help if you also stocked your home office with supplies, an ergonomic chair, and a desk with storage space to keep your things organised.

Staying organised is essential because working from home can be stressful for some people who are surrounded by distractions.

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Essential tools and supplies ideal for a WFH office

Now, let’s move on to the supplies and tools necessary for the best work-from-home set-up. Of course, this list is generic since there are unique requirements specific to every job description.

  • Office supplies. Although you’re mostly working online, you’ll still need basic office supplies such as paper, envelopes, and folders. Fortunately, you can buy from online suppliers like Stocking up on supplies should be a priority since going out for shop runs isn’t recommended.
  • Reliable wireless internet connection. Connectivity is a must for any employee working remotely. Before shifting to this set-up, you need to ensure that your internet connection at home remains stable, despite a possible increase in bandwidth use.
  • Accessories for your computer. Do you need noise-cancelling headphones for taking phone calls from clients? It’s critical to ensure that you can tune out any distracting noise from the background, such as pets and kids.
  • Software for video conferencing. It’s always good to have a video conferencing app installed on your computer before you start working from home. If your company provides a suite of tools and software for daily tasks, you can use other tools such as an online calendar to help remind you of your deliverables.

These days, there is plenty of technology designed to make working from home more efficient. If you can, try to invest in this technology, especially when it is free.

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of creating a suitable work-from-home environment let’s move on to some tips on avoiding the common challenges faced by WFH employees – especially when it comes to maintaining productivity.

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Your mindset should distinguish between work and home

One of the most significant advantages of working from home is access to your “creature comforts”. For example, you’re only a few paces away from the kitchen, the sofa, or your bed. But, the accessibility can be a hindrance to productivity. When working from home, you need to adhere to the same routines you’re used to when you need to go to the office.

Start your day right by washing, dressing, eating your breakfast, and setting up your office. Don’t start working without changing out of your pyjamas. If possible, do a workout to get the adrenaline pumping before you begin your daily tasks.

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Set realistic goals

If you think about the number of hours you have to complete your work, it does seem like working from home opens a lot of possibilities. But instead of setting mighty goals, it’s essential to remain realistic about what you can achieve. You will only set yourself up for disappointment by aiming too high.

The good thing about being realistic is that you’ll feel more accomplished if you can achieve more.

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Break your work hours into short bursts

In a traditional office set-up, your working hours usually get interrupted by meetings, a quick chat with colleagues, and bathroom breaks. At home, the lack of interaction means your hours are often spent only on work. The problem here is that you can easily lose focus and energy by working too long.

What you need to do is impose some type of structure on your workday. Schedule a few minutes between work tasks to take a break, walk around the house, or perhaps get a quick snack. You’ll notice that your concentration level increases more when you aren’t confined to your desk all the time.

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Manage all sources of distraction

Perhaps some of the biggest challenges every WFH employee encounters are the distractions of homelife. If you have young kids, then keeping them occupied and away from your workspace is in itself an issue. That’s why it’s vital to take breaks from time to time so that you can manage these distractions.

If you think that living alone works to your advantage, then think again. You may not have external distractions, but it’s easy to lose focus and drift into unproductive activities such as browsing social media. What you can do is to get up from your table once in a while to do something that isn’t work-related. For example, you can wash the dishes or put on the kettle for a cup of tea. A change of scenery is just what your brain needs to restart and refocus on your tasks.