Technology makes work from home possible, which is why, when we get distracted while working from home, technology also becomes the most obvious culprit. And it all makes sense considering how employees are now flooded by the sheer amount of tools, applications, and data from every side.
According to a survey, an average employee switches more than 1100 times between up to 35 applications a day. Employees reportedly get interrupted over 13.9 times on average by emails, social media, and instant messaging notifications. That means, the more tools and applications you use at work, the more notifications employees are bombarded with, and the more distracted they get.
A company’s culture also plays a big role in managing WFH distractions. Getting distracted is the response to cultural expectations that employees feel compelled to meet. When an employee gets a new notification, they are motivated to instantly check it even if they are working on something important because the company culture has conditioned them into believing that it is exactly what it’s expected of them. Organizations that create a high-pressure work culture that prioritizes constant communication over concentration and focus can often lead to distracted and disengaged employees.
To ensure employees continue to perform their best work, it’s important to identify and eliminate the most common WFH distractions by making relevant cultural changes and using the right tools.
Most common WFH distractions And Solutions to avoid it
Distraction #1: Over-communication
Communication is undoubtedly important for remote team members that don’t get to interact with their colleagues face to face, but too much of it can make remote employees feel micromanaged, overwhelmed, and annoyed. Overcommunication can also make it difficult for remote employees to have uninterrupted focus time to handle their own tasks.
Not to mention, when employees already feel overwhelmed with over-communication, they also hesitate to reach out to their colleagues, which can lead to bigger team performance issues.
The solution: Set communication guidelines
Set and create specific communication guidelines so that your remote employees know what is expected from them and what is the best way for them to reach out to their colleagues. The idea is to make remote employees comfortable enough to collaborate with their coworkers while still leaving them with enough room for uninterrupted work.
Here are some of the top remote communication best practices that you should consider:
- Create a shared calendar for the remote team so that it is easier to set up meetings and approach teammates
- Keep a track of everyone’s time zones and working hours, and add them to the shared calendar
- Decide on the main collaboration and communication tools that will be used by the remote team, and the main purpose of every tool
- Determine the maximum employee response time for all the messages received
- Create separate channels for work and casual conversations
Distraction #2: Constant notifications from different applications
Imagine you finally get yourself a big mug of coffee and switch on your laptop to work on the most important task you need to finish up for the day. You are deep into work, running at full efficiency, but just as you are halfway through — you get interrupted by a notification from the instant messaging app. Your colleague has a question about something they have been working on. It only seems like it would take five minutes, so you stop your work, respond to clarify their queries, and finally go back to the task at hand.
But just as you restart your work, you get a meeting reminder from the calendar app, followed by a task reminder by the project management tool, all of which destroys your concentration completely and interrupts your productive flow.
The result? A task that should have taken you one hour ends up taking three hours which greatly affects your efficiency.
The solution: Block out your schedule and notifications for deep work
Allow and encourage employees to block their schedule when they are engaging in deep work and do not wish to be contacted during those hours. Setting a maximum response time for all the work messages that employees receive can also help with this.
It is important to note that committing to deep work does not mean that remote employees cannot benefit from collaboration. In fact, deep work can help employees understand the importance of time, both for them and their colleagues.
There is a need to create a remote work culture where employees don’t feel bad for telling their colleagues that they will be unavailable for a few hours. At the same time, you should also use remote working tools that allow employees to snooze or block notifications for a specific period of time.
Distraction #3: Too many meetings during productive hours
While meetings are a good way for remote team members to come together and discuss their work, too many meetings can hamper the overall team efficiency and affect the quality of the work too. Holding back-to-back meetings, or worse, unplanned meetings can interrupt the employee’s daily peak productive hours. Too many meetings can also cause overcommunication and eventually lead to burnout among remote employees.
The solution: Be more mindful and strategic about organizing meetings
The reason why organizations around the world are leaning towards remote work is because when employees get the flexibility to work according to their own schedule and set up their own working hours, it directly leads to higher productivity.
But when you keep pulling remote employees into meetings all day, you actually take away the flexibility of remote work which they can benefit from and that leads to a visible decrease in both productivity and efficiency.
Therefore organizations need to scale back drastically on both the number of meetings and the duration of meetings to give remote employees some much needed breathing space. You should also make sure that the meetings are scheduled in advance and the main agenda of the meetings is also communicated beforehand. Meetings should only be organized for discussions that require real-time synchronous conversations. For all the other types of discussions, team members should be encouraged to have asynchronous communication through messaging apps and company channels.
numerous other distractions affect productivity while working from home. Here are 15 work from home tips to lead a successful and happy Work from home.
Successful WFH starts with the right digital work culture and tools
Developing a strong digital work culture where remote employees feel empowered and trusted to perform their best can take a lot of hard work and time. It is an ongoing process and using the right tools for your organization can make the shift more smooth and more seamless.
Instead of introducing more tools to your already growing digital suite, you can introduce a unified digital workplace platform that can streamline the internal business processes and integrate all the disparate third-party applications. With a centralized dashboard to access all the tasks, files, and communication, a digital workplace simplifies work management for employees, decreases the total number of notifications they get in a day, and allows them to find all the work-related information in one place.