Help Your Employees Avoid Work-From-Home Distractions

Here are 8 common work-from-home distractions and how employees can avoid them.

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man working from home with dog
Boost productivity within your remote teams with these tips and tools

We’ve all been there. You’re halfway through an important Zoom meeting when a coworker’s dog begins barking, causing the entire team to go off course for the next 10 minutes. Or perhaps a cute toddler accidentally stumbles into frame, leading to collective “awws” that make it difficult to get back on track.

With more of us working from home than ever before due to the coronavirus pandemic, personal distractions are rampant. We are multitasking in ways that we never expected. Instead of dropping the kids off at school and going into the office, we are now living in our office while moonlighting as an elementary school teacher, chef, maid, and doggie daycare attendant.

Employers who typically have a team full of employees sitting at their desks now have to navigate new waters involving teleconferencing, Slack chats, and Trello boards while employee productivity hangs in the balance. So how do employers help their employees avoid work-from-home distractions? Let’s dive in.

Kids

One of the perks of working from home is that employees can spend more time with their families. However, children can take up a significant portion of an employee’s bandwidth and interrupt important meetings and phone calls.

Even if children are in digital school during the day, they may need assistance. This leaves parents burning at both ends. Encourage employees to have:

  • A quiet “no kids allowed” workspace
  • Regular work hours
  • A door sign to indicate if they are working vs. taking a break

Pets

Though cuddling your dog while working is a luxury work-from-home employees get to enjoy, there is still potential for significant distractions from man’s favorite four-legged friend. Dogs can bark, whine, scratch at the door, lick your face, and stare longingly at your lunch, which makes staying focused nearly impossible.

Help your employees avoid pet distractions by ensuring they have a dedicated workspace where pets cannot enter, noise-proof headphones if needed, and regularly scheduled breaks where they can attend to their pet’s needs.

Help your employees avoid pet distractions by ensuring they have a dedicated workspace where pets cannot enter, noise-proof headphones if needed, and regularly scheduled breaks where they can attend to their pet’s needs.

Noise

Working from home comes with all sorts of noises that aren’t common in a professional office. From the dryer rumbling to the garbage truck outside, excess noise can make it challenging to stay on task. Employees can reduce noise distractions by playing soothing music, investing in noise-canceling headphones, or moving their workstation to a quieter corner of the house.

Spouses, partners, and roommates

There is nothing like a well-meaning spouse, partner, or roommate to throw productivity off track. Something as simple as asking if you remembered to put the trash cans out can derail your momentum. Employees need to set clear boundaries about their work hours and communicate with their living partners about those boundaries. If they cannot have a separate workspace, adding a simple magnet to their laptop like this one can help.

Technology glitches

Tech issues aren’t always avoidable, but you can reduce their frequency by ensuring employees have the proper equipment and internet speed they need to get their job done.

Glitches happen, software crashes, internet goes off the grid. Technology is a beautiful and yet fragile part of our daily lives. Tech issues aren’t always avoidable, but you can reduce their frequency by ensuring employees have the proper equipment and internet speed they need to get their job done.

Social media

When employees work from home, it can be very tempting to hop on Facebook and lose hours of the workday. It happens to us all. If you find that employees are struggling with this, it may be time to look into productivity apps like these to help them avoid non-work-related websites.

Cell phones

Answering calls, texts, or merely playing Candy Crush can eat into a large portion of the workday. Cell phone browsing can quickly derail an employee’s workday. Help employees reduce the itch to browse by giving them resources to modify this behavior, like the Forest App. This app offers users a “tree” to plant; if they open other apps or leave the app, the “tree” dies. It serves as a compelling reminder to put the phone down.

Lack of structure

If your employees have set hours, apps like Toggl can help track hours worked. Even if your employees don’t have a concrete schedule, Toggl can increase employee productivity by making them aware of the time they spend working throughout the day.

Remote work is more common than it has ever been thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Workers who typically commute to an office for their 9-5 job now find themselves sitting at the dining room table with their laptop open and their child doing algebra beside them. This new “normal” is challenging for all of us, especially for employers trying to manage remote teams, keep up morale, and encourage productivity.

There are many ways to mitigate your employees’ work-from-home distractions, get creative, utilize technology, and stay positive.

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