Thanks to world events, millions of workers in the UK have been forced (or, at the very least, encouraged) to work from home. This was a trend that was around before anyone had heard of Covid-19, but it’s one that’s certainly been accelerated by the pandemic. Moreover, it’s one that’s almost certainly here to stay, with major companies declaring an intent to continue the practice in the long-term.
Unfortunately, the home environment is not always ideal for productivity. Specifically, it’s bristling with distractions. instantprint, a Rotherham-based firm specialising in leaflets, magazines and posters, commissioned some research to explore the extent of the problem. The survey asked more than a thousand anonymous Brits what their most common sources of distraction were when working remotely. The results were stark:
Visual media like Netflix represented the most potent source of distraction, with 36.7% citing it. The fact that many home workers were at first forced to set up shop in their lounges might have contributed to the presence of this distraction.
Interestingly, just under a quarter (24.8%) of respondents confessed to taking a nap during working hours. While it’s easy to take this as a sign of laziness, it might equally be a sign that working hours are insufficiently flexible. The siesta is a practice that’s been pursued in the Mediterranean for centuries, and it’s one that might have marked productivity benefits, especially considering the lull in performance than many experience at around three-o-clock.
Given that we all have things to do at home, it’s less surprising that household chores were another common source of distraction. When there are tasks to do, we often prioritise the wrong ones, especially if the work-related one is difficult or unfamiliar. Of course, performing household chores also affords us time to think – some of the best ideas come to mind while doing the dishes.
Walking the Dog
Going for an afternoon walk can help to break up the day, and release endorphins. Much like doing chores, it can inspire creative thinking and allow us to come up with solutions we might not have stumbled across while grimacing into a laptop screen. What’s more, dogs are common sources of distraction, and they might insist that we take them out, whether we like it or not.
Doing Online Surveys
Of course, the people who are most likely to respond to an online survey are the same people who might confess to being distracted by them, so there’s a significant selection bias at work here. Nonetheless, it’s startling that 19.6% of respondents cited this as a major source of distraction.
How to Stay Focussed
Now that we’ve identified the distractions, we’re left with the problem of how to beat them. It takes patience and resilience, and most importantly, the establishment of a fairly rigid routine. Create a daily to-do-list. Diarise everything. Get changed for work, and spend your leisure time away from your desk. Don’t be tempted to work during your downtime, either. And make sure that you walk the dog before it’s time to get to work!