By Aaron Velazquez
If you’re one of the numerous people who’s spent the last two-plus years working from home amongst your family, this message is for you: it’s OK to ditch the home office or the “dining room table office” and get yourself a real work space.
You may really appreciate working from home and see it as a great opportunity to spend more time with your family. You can play with your kids, get chores done, cook dinner, and take a zoom call all from the comfort of your home; you feel like you “have it all”. But anyone living this life knows it’s much more challenging in practice than on paper; it’s difficult to focus with poopy diapers needing to be changed and that loud buzzer on your dryer banging into your head like a hammer. And it makes sense because multitasking has been proven to reduce productivity (yes, even if you’re a woman; we’re all equally bad at multitasking). You’re not getting multiple things done at once, you’re just jumping back and forth between distractions while your brain’s constantly changing focus. And just like you can’t tell your dog to stop barking or the leaf blower to stop blowing, you can’t tell your toddler to play quietly by themselves because you have a super important video call in three minutes. So it’s time to be honest and admit to yourself that you wouldn’t mind a handful of hours away from all that. And no, it’s not because you’re a terrible member of your family or hate your kids; it’s because you need some distraction free time to actually get work done.
Despite this, you may think you’re actually being more productive with the chaos of a typical family life. However, a study from the University of California, Irvine, showed that while distracted workers may actually get work done quicker, this is because they are compensating for wasted time and their health suffers. As their conclusion states, “…working faster with interruptions has its cost: people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort.” Essentially, distracted work is detrimental work.
…working faster with interruptions has its cost: people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort.
Not only do you suffer from distracted work, so do those who are distracting you. You may think spending all day at home is giving you much more quality family time, when in reality it’s probably not. What kind of “quality family time” is it when Mom or Dad are glued to a computer screen and getting frustrated by a spreadsheet while occasionally giving the child five minutes of low-effort interaction? As many people were doing a couple years ago, you are much better off grabbing some time in an office, getting your work done, and then going home for some real, uninterrupted time with the family. You may feel guilty leaving after two years of constantly being around, but you’ll feel much better about actually being able to give your family your full attention every evening.
Here at Workzones, we’ve seen a few workers with infant to toddler aged kids making this move to come into a distraction free zone so they can actually get some work done and have real, valuable family time. And if you’re ready to join this return to a solid work-life balance, come on down and leave the guilt behind, your family will be fine.