5 Counterintuitive Strategies For Staying Productive and Motivated While Working Remotely

With people working remotely more than ever, many are experiencing the challenges that come with the job.

Isolation, lack of supervision, distraction, and burnout can be experienced by employees working from home.

In this post, we look at some of the counterintuitive ways a well-meaning employee can combat burnout and stay motivated and productive in a remote setup.

# 1 Work Fewer Hours

In a study from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, there’s no marked difference between the output of employees who worked 80-hour weeks and those who worked less—signaling that spending more time at work does not necessarily mean accomplishing more.  

(Long hours, in many cases, can backfire and lead to decreased productivity—which is not good news to companies who think they’re getting more from employees.)

When you think about it, working long hours is not only hurting you (and your health, and your relationships), it is also hurting the bottom line of the company that suffers absenteeism and low work output, and pays equally for the hours employees are most productive and the hours that they’re just lounging around.

Historically, when businesses reduced the number of work hours, the level of productivity actually increased.

It’s counterintuitive, I know, but try working fewer hours. You just might be surprised by the bump in outcomes.

(Spend the extra hours on self-care and balancing other aspects of your life.)

#2 Embrace Distractions

Easily distracted?

Don’t beat yourself up. This is most probably a sign that you are more creative than others. A Northwest University study has discovered that highly creative people are more easily distracted that the average lot.

Locking yourself in a silent and static room, where pets, wife, and kids won’t breach can sometimes be an overwhelming burden to maintain—not just for you, but for everybody who feels they need to tiptoe around you.  

Embracing distractions instead, welcoming them as a “break,” can help your cause. Breaks matter. Even if they’re as short as 1-minute have been found to improve performance and creativity once you get back to work.

So don’t neglect the “distractors” that often visit your workspace—your kids, your cat, or the neighbours who are engaged in a lively conversation. Quickly doing something else that’s different from what you’re focusing on can generate more creative ideas. Focusing on a single task for too long depletes energy and performance. But stepping back and doing something else unrelated, triggers ideas you wouldn’t otherwise get.  

But don’t just embrace distractions and breaks for the job boost. Claim them because other sections in life are just as important as work: Your family, your friends, and your mental health.   

#3 Make some noise

Instead of going for absolute silence, why not hone in on a specific genre of music and see if it makes you more productive?

Working to music is nothing new. For example, during World War 2, the “Music While You Work” program blasted music twice a day in UK factories, helping increase production by 12.5%-15%.

Even in agricultural societies, music accompanied singing peasants as they harvested that year’s crops. And drunk or not, sea chanteys were sung by sailors toiling on their ships.

Alex Hill, the founder of MAV, a London-based music consultancy, mentioned that their clients reported increased productivity and motivation “when they’ve had the right music playing in the office.”

Alas, not all music is equal, and not all people are equally affected by music. Some people would swear by silence, like Bill Gates, who is said to have eschewed music and television for 5 years in his 20s.

Research is divided on the subject, that’s why you need to try it out for yourself. And you also need to determine which tasks seem to be elevated by which type of music.

Consider the time of day—like during the end of the day when energy is lagging, you might opt for more upbeat and faster tunes.

The perennial favourite, and for which some positive evidence has been found, is Mozart’s K448.  

It is said to enhance mood and arousal, and therefore improve performance.

#4 Reach Out To Others 

You wake up mid-morning on a Tuesday. Your spouse and the kids have gone to work and school.

You sit in your kitchen, sipping your coffee in silence, waiting for your laptop to boot.    

The sense of isolation remote workers can feel from the lack of social interaction with friends and colleagues can make one sterile on the job.

Man is a social animal who seeks to interact with others, not only to get the juices flowing but to keep morale up.

In this day and age, nobody should feel alone. With the ubiquity of communication and social media tools, you can interact with friends and strangers even when inside a locked room.

But the key here is that you need to be proactive about it. Hundreds of communication apps will do you no good if you are simply waiting for others to hit you up first. You need to do the “Hey, what are you up to?”

Initiate the interaction, whether by text, voice, or video…and invest the time in developing the relationship. According to one study, it takes at least 34 hours to shift a relationship from casual acquaintance to friendship. (On average, that should take about five and a half months.)    

And while connecting online is fast and easy, building friendships is even better face-to-face. A group of friends can meet up for food, drinks, play, travel, etc. Make it a regular thing!

And speaking of going out, working remotely doesn’t mean you only do it at home. You can set up shop in one of your favourite coffee places, say, hours before meeting a friend there. You can spend a day at the beach, and charge your laptop in one of the joints in the area.

Get a new scenery. Sometimes, just having something new to look at can perk you up and appreciate life.   

#5 Find Your Work Style

The biggest advantage for remote workers is the flexibility to design the workday according to their sensibilities.

Unlike office workers whose days and hours are pre-determined, remote jocks can tailor fit their schedules to their: moods, most productive hours, family schedules, etc.

This means that if you feel your routine has gone stale and uninspiring, you have ample room to experiment. The problem with many is that they still operate with the assumption that once they have a routine, they have to stick to it whatever happens.

But the blessings of remote work allow workers to change things up.

The “Novelty Effect” has many contexts. It can point to the increase in learning when a new technology is introduced, for example. But it can just as easily point to the increase in performance and motivation when something new, in general, is injected into things.

For example, working in a different room, can reset the mind and spark creativity.

Working at different times may help generate new ideas.

Changing the sequence of tasks can lend new approaches and perspectives.

As a remote worker, there’s no reason to be bored.

You can be as eccentric and unpredictable as warranted.  

Oftentimes, boredom is the consequence of the employee not maximizing the flexibility afforded to him by the company.   

Fighting off boredom and stimulating the productivity of remote workers is an increasingly important topic. Remote work is the future of work and more and more employees will be working outside of the office and crafting their workdays and workweeks.

Kinetic Innovative Staffing is at the beating heart of this revolution. We help companies find remote employees for their organizations.

We have a rich pool of seasoned remote professionals from a wide variety of industries, so if you’re looking to hire software developers, writers, AI specialists, graphic designers, voice talents, customer service associates, virtual assistants, etc., Kinetic will help you land the most highly-skilled workers.

Working with us doesn’t just give you access to quality talent, you will also realize significant savings in costs. Our clients save as much as 70% on their labour expenses each month.

If you would like to explore this opportunity, or if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.


Kinetic Innovative Staffing has been providing hundreds of companies in the Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East, and Europe with professionals working remotely from the Philippines since 2013. Get in touch to know more.  

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