When the article titled 'Why working from home is not so great anymore' was published in TBS, many readers voiced their strong disagreements with the points raised in it.
They mostly opposed the assertion that working from home makes it nearly impossible to focus to the best of one's ability.
They were of the belief that the sudden shift in work culture induced by the pandemic had no impact on their professional commitments.
In fact, some of them such as Mitu, a school teacher, said that the change has made them more efficient.
"Prior to the pandemic, I had to spend a significant amount of time traveling from one busy road to another. This used to take a couple of hours out of my day. The heavy traffic I had to deal with used to sap the last ounce of energy I had after a long day at work", Mitu said while expressing her annoyance.
"I can now use this extra time to better prepare for the classes. I do not believe it has hampered my ability to work. In fact, by saving time, it has only enabled me to better prepare myself to do what I do," she concluded on a brighter note.
On request, a few job holders shared with us some of their secrets for remaining as productive working from home as they were in the confines of their offices.
These suggestions are detailed below in the hope that readers who are struggling to stay focused on their work during these difficult times will benefit from them.
Make room for a personal workspace
As most of us are working from home, creating and maintaining a personal workspace is now more important than ever.
Alam, a journalist, said, "I can not deny that working from your bed or couch sounds appealing. However, establishing a makeshift workspace in my guest room with the most important tools I need for my job, such as a computer, paper, and pen, has worked wonders for me. It has enabled me to focus on the tasks at hand without being disturbed by common household distractions."
Adding to this, Farabi who is working as a junior executive at a reputed organisation, stated, "Modifying the surrounding of my workspace with things I like has helped me greatly to stay focused and enthusiastic. In my case, I used photographs of people I admire accompanied by motivational quotes. However, because everyone is unique, this is highly subjective. One can choose to use his or her favourite plant, scented candle, or even music".
Farabi, in support of her statement, drew our attention to a study conducted by neuropsychologists at Mindlab International that found that an astounding 90% of workers who took part in the test produced more precise results while listening to music than when working in silence.
Identify and remove distractions
At home, the possibility of being easily distracted is much greater than it is at work.
With everything that could divert one's attention away from work – from television to children – staying productive throughout the day requires nothing short of a superhuman effort.
Thus, it is of utmost importance to make a list of these distractions and remove them as soon as possible.
"I did not have much of an opportunity to check social media in my office, but at first it was difficult to avoid it while working from home. I used to open a social media app whenever I was bored, and before I knew it, half an hour would pass," Hasnat, a content writer, shared his experience with us.
On being asked about how he got rid of this habit, he said, "I began by logging out of all social media platforms during my office hours, at least from my laptop, as this is the device that I had to keep close to me during office hours. I also disabled the option to receive notifications from specific apps in order to avoid being bothered by the sound of notifications constantly."
"When I came to realise the benefits of this step, I immediately made a list of everything that was keeping me from working to my full potential and removed them one by one," he added further.
Create a to-do list for each day
Creating a detailed list of things to do for the next day is a much more important milestone to achieve in order to remain productive than one may understand.
It will not only help support one in maintaining regular office hours, but it will also increase his or her chances of being highly efficient on a daily basis during that time.
As noted by renowned psychologist and author Dr David Cohen, the to-do list "relieves anxiety about the chaos of life; it provides us with structure, a plan that we can stick to; and it serves as proof of what we have accomplished that day, week, or month."
"Because I had a comprehensive list of things that I wanted to do on a daily basis jotted down on paper, I had greater clarity regarding what I needed to get done by the end of my regular work hours, and thus I was able to plan and prioritise my actions accordingly. I felt more organised and less stressed," Redowan, an English language trainer, said.
Communication is important
Although working from home does not provide the same experience as working in an office, communicating with colleagues can greatly assist someone in overcoming the sense of isolation.
Hasnat and Redowan believe that "going outside of email and using other applications to communicate with their colleagues allowed them to somewhat recreate the in-person office experience while being at home".
"You will never be able to communicate with the same clarity through an email as you would via screen sharing over a call. The latter provides you with a better opportunity to provide and receive information, which is an important precondition of working more productively," they said in unison.
In a research paper, Dr Mike Oliver of Staffordshire University noted that according to various surveys, "between 66 and 82% of workers do not always take their breaks".
But taking regular breaks and allowing the mind and body to recharge is a sound advice for anyone who wants to stay efficient at work, even if it is widely ignored.
According to Alejandro Lleras, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, "by deactivating and reactivating your goals, you can maintain focus. In practice, our research suggests that when confronted with long tasks, it is best to take short breaks. Short mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task."
Mitu stated in this regard, "I take a five-minute break whenever the clock strikes an hour. This, I have observed, kept both me and my students from becoming tired and distracted".
"It also aided us in better processing and retaining information, often allowing us to gain a better understanding of the bigger picture," she added.
Indolence is contagious in the same way that enthusiasm is, in the sense that if one person within an organisation becomes inactive, others will follow. As a result, collective morale to achieve new heights crumbles like a house of cards.
Thus, it is essential that everyone strives to do their best from their position for the organisation in which they work so that it can reciprocally provide them with increased benefits in the long run –what a fitting 'all for one and one for all' scenario!