How to Remain Productive When You Work Remotely

Photo of a woman sitting at desk at home.

Most people who work remotely start off with high hopes. After all, getting away from the common time wasters of the workplace is supposed to be a good thing — for employees and the companies they serve. Yet, one productivity killer still lurks in the corner for every employee who works from home.

What is this productivity pariah? It's the attraction to distraction.

There’s no shortage of articles offering work-from-home advice and productivity tips, but they’re not going to be very helpful unless you have an antidote to remote work distractions.

You might think you’re escaping distractions when you work remotely, but don’t be fooled. You’re likely more susceptible to diversions than ever. That growing stack of dishes in the sink, the dog begging for a walk, and those inevitable roommate or family interruptions can all make it harder to focus on work.

To zap distractions, try these simple telecommuting tips:

Separate your space

In a recent survey conducted by The Creative Group, 36 percent of professionals said that an enclosed workspace is most conducive to fostering creativity. When you work remotely, having some privacy is also important. If you don’t already have one, try to create an area that is separate and distinct from your living space where you can focus on work — not the laundry pile.

Do your best to work only in your designated area. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Don’t take your laptop to the couch and don’t fold clothes at your desk. Making sure there is no overlap will help train your brain to shift into “work mode” the moment you enter the workspace and out of it the minute you leave.

Block your view

Of course, not everyone has a spare room to dedicate as an office, and some remote employees won’t be able to physically block off their workspace from the rest of the home. If you’ve set up shop in one corner of the living room, for example, consider putting up a folding room divider. Think of it as a life hack for building self-discipline.

Use “Do Not Disturb” signals

If you share your home with others, you need a clear way to indicate when you absolutely cannot be interrupted. Whether it’s a closed door or a simple whiteboard sign, give your housemates or family members a visual cue to let them know you’re not available. Reducing the number of interruptions will help you manage your work time more effectively, so your personal hours can be devoted entirely to, well, your personal life.

While being able to work remotely can be an enticing perk for employees, it comes with its own set of challenges. However, avoiding common distractions is completely within your control. Follow these tips and you’ll be better equipped to manage the potential productivity pitfalls of working from home.

Telecommuting is just one type of flexible work arrangement. Read about some other options that can help your work-life balance

More advice on how to work remotely