Remote working has many forms, but roughly 84% of remote workers prefer working from home over cafes or co-working spaces. This was before COVID-19, an event that has forced home working to the fore with 49% of the UK workforce working from home.
Even though working from home has reduced commutes from one hour to one minute (or less), removed office politics and stopped unnecessary impromptu meetings, employers should be aware of the trade off.
There can be employee well-being issues when they are working from home.
The World Health Organisation categories burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’. It is a type of vital exhaustion.
Normally, burnout is associated with the physical workplace with physical symptoms.
However, you can still burnout while working from home. Instead of being physical, it’s a mental fuzziness stopping you from working. Harvard Business Review suggests that the lack of a work-home divide is the reason, and a recent study by Buffer revealed 22% of home workers struggle to unplug from work.
Everyday Tech That Can Improve Well-Being When Working From Home
At ITEC, remote working is part of our ethos. Often our sales team is moving and having (socially distanced) meetings; the ITEC Engineers are at customer sites; and office-based staff have the opportunity to work from home when they need to.
Technology enables us to do this. So if technology lets us work from home or a cafe, can it help keep team morale high?
With this in mind, we took the time to speak to team members about how the average technology in their home has helped their well-being and reinforced positive thinking.
As everyone knows, WiFi is a fundamental part of working life, especially as BYOD adoption continues to climb.
Most ITEC team members have created dedicated offices while working from home (read: spare room, dining room, or corner of the bedroom). This enables them to physically and mentally shut themselves away, and keep a gap between their work and private lives.
They can focus on their daily tasks and avoid getting distracted by piles of laundry or small children demanding snacks.
However, the downside of these set-ups is that they’re often in rooms with low WiFi signals. In the last few months, we’ve all been on video calls with frozen screens or blurred bosses.
It may seem a bit obvious, but good WiFi is important to work from home. A strong signal lets team members connect and collaborate with little fuss. Studies suggest that a webpage that takes longer than 6 seconds to load increases heart rates, and pause in video can increase your heart rate by 15%.
Bonus Tip: Fit a signal booster. Reliable WiFi makes all the difference when working from home and reduces stress as web pages load quickly and video calls don’t lag.
One of the biggest office politics bugbears is deciding what to listen to on the radio. Do you stream a 7-hour playlist or listen to an annoying DJ? This doesn’t happen when you’re working from home, but other distractions appear.
Many of ITEC’s home workers now have two-year-old colleagues who don’t understand office protocol. This means getting into ‘work mode’ can be a struggle. There is one piece of kit that has been a godsend at helping with this: noise cancelling headphones.
They block out the world and limit distractions. Many ITEC team members listen to pop music, white noise, ambient background noise (bring the coffee shop to you), classical music or podcasts. You no longer have to listen to arguments between the Top 40 lover and the office hipster.
Bonus Tip: You can also reduce on-screen distractions by entering ‘Focus Mode’ on Microsoft Word, reducing notifications and suppressing the urge to Google.
Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse
When the call came to work from home, many of ITEC’s remote workers faced a dilemma. Do they only take their laptop out of the office or do they take the monitor as well? Were they willing to wheel an office chair stacked with tech three kilometres through a crowded city centre?
There are many benefits to just working with a laptop. They’re portable, powerful and let you move from the dining room to the garden table (if your WiFi reaches). But needless to say, hunching over a laptop for hours every day as a remote worker is not good for your posture.
Being IT experts, ITEC team members wanted their home offices to mirror their actual office. Just look at the set up Dave Clark, one of our Technical Pre-Sales specialists, has in his home office -- multiple screens and a comfy chair!
Many ITEC team members have found that plugging their laptop into a monitor has helped them feel better about work and helped divide their work and private lives.
Bonus tip: Also opt for a separate mouse and keyboard for extra fluidity and flexibility when working from home.