The rise and ubiquity of the internet have given a lot of possibilities for people everywhere. One of the significant impacts of the internet was to bridge the gap between places. Over the last decade, more and more people have been engaging in location-agnostic work with the aid of the internet. Remote work grew more than 400% in the last decade.
COVID lockdowns caused the number to go through the roof. Other than the jobs that were deemed essential, everyone had to stay at home. Organizations pivoted to adjust to the new mode of working and remote work has become the norm within very few months.
This advance has brought with it a myriad of problems that were not even thought of before. 'Zoom fatigue' was a term that would not have been needed. But now it is a very real thing. There are also deep concerns of mental health being adversely affected due to remote work.
Remote work also has been attributed to causing a sharp decline in productivity. This is especially evident in the companies that moved to remote work from the regular mode of in-person work.
Factors affecting the efficiency of remote workers
A singular factor does not do much damage to the efficiency of remote workers. But a combination of such factors will compound and will be detrimental to their performance. Let us take a look at the efficiency-hampering factors.
Lack of Boundary
Working in an office during specific office hours provides a clear demarcation between work and home. With remote work, there is no physical boundary where work begins and ends. It muddles both personal life and professional life. This confuses the mind and remote workers will lose the ability to work efficiently. This recent study from Microsoft shows how difficult it is to have a well-defined boundary during remote work.
Network in offices generally have firewalls that keep out a lot of potential distractions on the internet. Another factor would be that you will not be watching cat videos on YouTube where anyone can see what you are doing on a computer. This meant that in an office setting the employees would be engaging in productive work.
At home, supervision is non-existent. You can be in your bed in your pajamas and no one would know. There is no network firewall. There is TV, video games, your guitar, every hobby you have, within arm's reach. It is easy to get distracted. You can start watching a YouTube video in the morning, and your whole day can be lost in autoplayed videos.
Distractions are very easy to come by if you are taking care of someone while at home. It could be children, someone sick at home, or someone elderly. In an office setting, the worker could segregate those functions well. In the world of remote work, the walls are broken down.
In a traditional office, the workers are in the field of view of others in the office. You would not be slouching at your desk or sitting in some weird posture. Most offices at least have basic ergonomic chairs. At home, people might use a couch, bean bag, or even bed to work on. This is a really bad posture to work. In addition to causing health problems in the future, it also kills the drive to actively engage in work.
Binge eating is a common way people adopt to counter stress. In an office setting, workers won't be binging food. But when they are working from home and the refrigerator is just a couple of feet away from the couch they are working from, it is easy to start binging and go overboard. This is unhealthy behavior and should be avoided.
How To Overcome Challenges and Increase Efficiency
The freedom that comes with remote work can be a double-edged sword. By mismanagement of time and resources by workers, their ability to work efficiently drops significantly when they are home. We have discussed some of the challenges that cause this in the previous section. In this section, let us take a look at how we can overcome these challenges and boost performance.
According to physiology researchers, the human brain cannot maintain concentration beyond an hour. It varies for different people. But it is safe to assume that concentrating on a single task for more than an hour will not be productive. It is best to take short breaks before the maximum attention span is reached.
There are many strategies and techniques one can adopt to take breaks. You can try different combinations of work and break time to assess what combination works best for you. There are proven methods like the Pomodoro method that can be adopted if you do not want to spend time experimenting.
Pomodoro method simply is working for 25 minutes and taking a break for 5 minutes. The whole work time is split into buckets of 30 minutes each in which 25 minutes is dedicated to concentrated work and a 5-minute break is taken after that. Take a short walk or some other slightly invigorating activity in those 5 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, remote work blurs the line between work and life. It is upon you to make a distinct separation between work and home even if you are working from home. The best way is to have a dedicated office space in your home. Once you are in your office, enter the work mode and exit home. Once you exit the office, forget everything work-related.
Everyone does not have the resources to have a separate office space for work. It is best to have a separate space in your room that is partitioned for work. It could be the desk you use for work. Once you are at your desk mentally turn off everything else and concentrate on work. A neat, efficient, and ergonomic desk setup will help you to make the segregation in mind easier.
Standing desks to work efficiently
A standing desk is one of the best work-related investments a remote worker can undertake. It pays dividends throughout its life. Usually more than a decade. Our human body, through evolution, is designed to move constantly.
Most of the work today is sedentary. There is no need for physical activity to complete the tasks. You can sit on a chair and complete every task without even stretching your legs. But it is not the best mode of working for physical and mental health according to research conducted among more than 100,000 people.
But you cannot keep moving while working at a desk. A better solution is standing desks. Working on a standing desk engaged many muscle groups and keeps them active. It also reduces the friction to go for a short walk, compared to when you are sitting on a chair. Almost all standing desks available in the market can be easily adjusted to varying heights. You can sit or stand according to your preference. Switching between sitting and standing while working is a brilliant practice.
Here are two sturdy standing desks that will give an excellent return on investment over their lifetime. Both the desks come with a warranty for half a decade. That is a solid deal.
A. FlexiSpot Home Office Height Adjustable Standing Desk Frame EC1
EC1 is a compact desk frame that can fit in any tight space
EC1 desk frame from FlexiSpot fits the tinkerer in you. It is a compact frame on which you can build your own desktop. It is perfect if you want a DIY desktop, but do not want to mess with the electro-mechanical design needed for a standing desk. If you already have a desktop you love, EC1 helps to add standing desk functionalities to it. It is a value add and light on your wallet.
Some features of the EC1 desk are:
- Height is adjustable from 71 to 121 centimeters.
- Has a basic keypad to move the desk up or down. The keypad can be upgraded to a standard keypad with more functions.
- Capability to lift up to 70 kg. If there are objects on the desk those need not be removed before adjusting the table.
- Option to add 4 different tabletop sizes in 21 color combinations.
- A timer to remind of posture change.
- Affordable price with a long warranty.
- High return on investment.
FlexiSpot EC1 is an affordable option for a standing desk frame. It is especially useful if you are tight on space and need to fit a standing desk in a very small area. It is the right choice if you have a desktop and do not want to get a new one. A 5-minute assembly would turn your favorite desktop into a standing desk. It is hard to beat the value proposition of EC1.
An elegant desk design with convenience and functionality.
Comhar offers an elegant and sturdy desk packed with features to support efficient work. The tempered glass on the desk is rounded along the corners so it is safe and comfortable to use. Tempered glass offers a durable tabletop with a lasting sheen.
Some features of Comhar standing desk are:
- The glass tabletop is dry-erase ready. This allows creativity to flow without constraints.
- Two USB charging ports with the additional facility to charge using USB-C.
- In-built storage drawer for added convenience.
- 4 programmable height presets for one push adjustment.
- Safe lock button to prevent accidental touches.
- Anti-collision feature to prevent the desk from damaging objects placed under it.
Due to the superior design and functionalities offered by Comhar, it is a better choice than standing desks from larger furniture retailers.
Remote work can hamper the productivity of employees by fatigue, distractions, and bad posture. There are some methods to work more efficiently. Some of them are to take adequate breaks and segregate work and life. Standing desks is one of the best means to increase productivity as it tackles multiple factors that brings down performance. FlexiSpot EC1 and Comhar are excellent affordable standing desks that beat every other desk in their respective price ranges.