Employee Benefit Views

Teleworkers confess biggest at-home distractions

Posted September 29, 2011 by By Kelley M. Butler at 10:46AM. Comments (11)

I’m working from home today, and I won’t lie — it’s a tough day. I’m still exhausted from a long three days at Benefits Forum & Expo, and returned home to gray weather and scores of to-do items that had been piling up while I was gone. I’m tired and overwhelmed, and it would be easy and wonderful to chuck it all and go veg out on my couch.

It would be too easy, in fact. So, instead of trying to work from the living room I’m fighting temptation by working from the island in my kitchen — lots of light, a high-backed chair and no remote control for as far as my eyes can see. So far, so good.

However, according to a new CareerBuilder survey, some of my fellow teleworkers are giving in to their darker angels. The survey finds that teleworkers confessed to their top distractions when working from home:
- Household chores (31%).
- TV (26%).
- Pets (23%).
- Errands (19%).
- Internet (18%).
- Children (15%).
In fact, some are so distracted (perhaps by all of the above), that 17% of Americans who telework at least part of the time spend one hour or less actually working.

“To avoid situations where teleworkers aren't putting in the necessary time, managers need to be clear about expectations and establish daily objectives,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of HR at CareerBuilder. “The autonomy of working from home can be very rewarding so long as it doesn't diminish productivity."

Haefner recommended the following tips to help teleworkers work as efficiently as possible:
- Keep a normal routine.
- Find the best spot to work.
- Stay connected to colleagues.
- Plan breaks.
- Work at a coffee shop to maintain human contact.

What are your tricks for staying productive when working from home? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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Posted by: Geri D | October 3, 2011 4:08 PM

In my view, working at home is not a one size fits all arrangement. Productivity level does require an autonomous work ethic and establishing a routine. I did so on a once a week basis many years ago before it was as commonplace as it currently is. I maintained the same work at home scheduled day and prepared well in advance what my tasks would be. I also enjoyed the advantage of being able to substitute commute time for productive work time, being able to work later and with no interruptions, maintained continuity regarding work flow.

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Posted by: Daphne R | October 3, 2011 1:36 PM

I am a telecommuter for 6 years now and I could not disagree more with your "survey results". I also take great exception to the implication that teleworkers are less productive.I know I am my colleagues who also telecommute are more highly productive, effective and efficient as direct result of telecommuting versus being in an office. I take exception to the idea that I sepend time in my work doing chores - I don't and my colleagues dont. We work longer days - albeit with the flexibility to say take lunch at 3pm instead of noon. O get more done in a single day in my home office than I ever got done in an office environment. I can concentrate more, produce better products for my employer and being engaged way more than otherwise.I highly value the trust and flexibility my employer gie me by allowing me to telecommute. So please don't provide such an imbalanced and improper view of what telecommuting is all about. From my experiences - its high productivity and efficiency and not chores and Oprah re-runs.

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Posted by: Jean R | October 3, 2011 10:59 AM

I am an independent cosultant and to track my tasks, I use a free software called toodledo. To track my time, I have a "stopwatch" on my computer that I also located with free software called timeleft. These to tools really help me understand and track my productivity. Additionally, I would argue that a company's fellow office workers are wasting just as much, if not more, time on the internet. It is hard not to get sucked into reading and responding. This comment is actual "proof."

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