How to work effectively from anywhere, Be productive, resourceful, and have a work-life balance.
2020 was a year that brought so much disruption, and many were forced into a vastly different working environment than they were used to. Now this forced adaption is becoming more the norm in how people are working.
Some think it might just be a temporary fix until we slot back into the same office way of life. Others think this is a lasting change as different working environments become the norm.
So, as part of the ‘Time To Adapt’ series it seems right to take a look at how to work effectively away from the office – from our home to other environments such as in a cafe, beach, park, or situations such as having to work in our bedroom, around kids or even working abroad.
While the pandemic has brought about this sudden change to many, to some it was already the norm, so we learn from those who have done so for years, with tips and tricks on how to make the best of it and find that ideal work-life balance, and we look into what the world might look like in the future of flexible living.
Why We Are So Accustomed To Working In The Office
To begin though we should first consider what makes the office the productive engine it is.
- The most obvious place to start is with group accountability. When you turn up for work in an environment where others are working and they are reliant on you to actively get the job done, there’s simply no excuses or delay. We aren’t allowed to procrastinate or think about starting something just a bit later. We are held accountable by time and by the expectations of others.
- Secondly, the social aspect of having other people around us gives us an impetus to get work done, especially as those other people are attached to the same company goal. Having others around also makes us more competitive. We work harder to have our work noticed.
- Thirdly, we can separate work and life much easier. The office is for work, home is not for working. There are many reasons not to like a 9-5 work life, but it does make things simpler when telling our brain to focus on the work at hand. We associate the location with working.
- Finally, we have fewer distractions around us. Having to suddenly deal with a neighbours washing machines going off, or your baby crying wasn’t a problem in the office, and we’ve become so pre-conditioned to accept office noise as whitenoise that helps us focus, when we hear other noise we aren’t used to our flow is easily disrupted.
There’s certainly other reasons why we are productive in office environments, but, as we will find, there’s also many good reasons not to, and we can be equally as effective, if not more, when we aren’t heading to an office each day.
How Can We Work Effectively In A Different Environment?
It is highly likely that work as we knew it will change for the long run, and, in the future, if you aren’t adaptable to different work environments then you’d likely be unproductive and lose out to someone who is more adaptable.
So, this guide could be of great help to you if you’ve been wondering how to deal with unplanned work change such as how to adjust to time zone differences, ensure you keep active and focused, cope with demotivation, find a work-life balance, set up a workstation, meet deadlines, deal with loneliness, keep connected, deal with distracting noise around you, know what to do when you don’t have the right supplies or resources at hand, and so on.
To get started you should first consider what it was about your previous working environment (at work) that worked well for you, and then see if any of it can also be applied to the different environment you are in.
For example, is it possible to set up a desk to work on, a separate room to focus in, recordings of office sounds playing as white-noise in the background or through your headphones, set a similar schedule etc.
Trying to liken the conditions would make the change easier to adapt to, but even if you did try to replicate the environment, our brains aren’t stupid. They know it’s not the same. We are subconsciously aware that there’s something different from what we are used to doing, and as much as we try to trick it into work mode it will need time to adjust to what is essentially a new setup.
Therefore, as much as establishing a new routine would help our brains get used to the change and to find focus again, we need to establish a pattern of change that we can accept as the new norm.
You see in the future it’s highly likely that we won’t all just head back to offices, or even be confined to our homes. When our minds get used to adaptive change then we don’t like being put back into boxes.
It would be quite predictable for some people to want to continue working away from the office, or even in different environments altogether if they were to get the opportunity to after – just like it is predictable that people will want to travel even more once Coronavirus isn’t blocking everyone’s lives.
Yet, the solution for each person will be different. Some might want to head back to the office as that environment just seemed the ideal to them in the end. At first, some might have liked the change from the office, but over time grown sick of it. Some, and probably most, will fall somewhere in between.
So, the guide also shows how to get the best of both worlds, and to do so we need to be adaptable.
You could even try the different hats challenge to help you adapt to a different character’s needs.