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Workaholic, Daydreamer, Recluse – which remote worker are you?

New research from global recruiter Robert Walters Ireland has highlighted three types of personality types that have emerged from the extended period of remote working.

  1. The Workaholic: works compulsively or over the hours required, and at the cost of their sleep, family time or personal life. A workaholic in this period is someone who enjoys their work and sees it as structure or differentiation to their day or feels compelled to do it to prove there has been no change to productivity since home working has been introduced. The biggest threat to a workaholic is burnout.
  2. The Daydreamer: iseasily distracted from tasks by activity in the home. Daydreamers find themselves in a cycle of an unfocussed and then refocussed mindset multiple times a day. The natural wandering of the mind can often mean that projects or work is delivered differently to how managers may have expected. Job satisfaction for a day dreamer can often be quite low as a result. 
  3. The Unwilling Recluse: is victim to the extreme comfortableness of the home setting. The ability to stay in the same ‘hoodie’ for days, avoid small talk with colleagues, and hide behind e-mails as your main form of communication, can lead remote workers down a slippery slope of isolation.

Suzanne Feeney, Director of at Robert Walters Ireland, states:

“Personality types of these kind are very common in your normal workplace setting – and an experienced manager and organisation will have tried and tested ways on how to build structure, guidance, and a tailored approach to help support such individuals.

“From companies banning emails being sent on weekends or outside office hours, to regular catch-ups with management, and planned social engagements and away days – these three personality types can be managed within a workplace under normal circumstances.

“The challenge we have during this period is management from afar and having to quickly understand what factors from remote working can expose us to negative experiences – such as burnout, low morale, or isolation.”

Robert Walters new e-guide – Survival Guide to Working from Home – outlines strategies to help every type of remote worker to work well and succeed whilst social distancing measures remain in place.

THE WORKAHOLIC

Suzanne Feeney comments: “No coffee or lunch breaks, lack of personal time, and minimal human interaction can be a dangerous combination for workaholics heading towards burnout. As we navigate through this period and most of us have little choice but to working in our living rooms or kitchen, it is important to redefine the lines between work and home life.”

Suzanne gives her top tips for remote workaholics:

  • Create a dedicated workspace: Setting up a dedicated zone for your working day creates a physical boundary between you and work. If you have an office at home, make sure to shut the door once you’ve finished for the day or, if your kitchen table has become your office desk, make sure you put away your laptop at the end of the day to avoid the temptation to log back on.
  • Get into a routine:  It’s not always easy to replicate the schedule you had in the office, but a little structure can make a big difference to getting your work/life balance right. Try sticking to the same start and finish times each day. Incorporating daily exercise can also help to keep you motivated and alert.
  • Get your priorities in order: Start each day by planning your tasks for the day ahead in priority order. Incorporate when and where you’ll do each task, as well as considering the challenges you may face to help keep your to-do list achievable.
  • Take regular breaks: You don’t spend every second in the office at your desk and it shouldn’t be any different at home. Take regular breaks throughout the day to make a coffee or get some air. This will reset your mind and body and keep you motivated throughout the day.
  • Keep in contact with colleagues: It can be hard to recognise when you’re pushing yourself too hard, especially when there’s no one around to witness your late nights and early morning starts. It can be tempting to duck out of a team call or resist offers of a virtual coffee when you feel overloaded, but these social interactions are key to maintaining a sense of perspective and positive mental wellbeing so try to embrace rather than avoid them.
  • End the day with an event: Schedule an activity that you enjoy for the end of your working day to act as a signal for switching off. Whether you go for a walk, do some yoga or pick up a book, make sure you’re out of your workspace and ready for some much-needed relaxation.
Suggested Daily Schedule: The Workaholic
7.00Wake up
7.15Try out some yoga or light exercise
7.45Shower and get dressed
8.15Have breakfast and catch up on your emails
8.45Set out your daily tasks in priority order
9.00Start work
11.00Make a coffee or healthy snack and have a catch-up with someone from your team
11.45Back to work
13.00Lunch break – get up and get away from your working area. If it’s safe to do so, go outside for some fresh air; otherwise, stay indoors and read, prepare a nutritious lunch or work on a hobby. Take a full 30-60 minutes to give your brain and body a chance to recharge
14.00Back to work
15.30Take a tea break, message a colleague or take a few minutes to load the dishwasher or fold laundry
15.45Back to work
16.30Start to wind down for the day. Avoid starting a new task if it’s likely to be complicated or take a long time to complete
17:30Flag any new emails for actioning in the morning
18:00Finish work – put your laptop away or shut your study door. Go for a walk, switch on the TV or play a game to unwind

THE DAYDREAMER

Suzanne Feeney comments: “While working from home can present great opportunities to eliminate some of the typical distractions we face at the office, for many people, the sudden lack of structure actually inhibits their productivity. If you find yourself adrift while working from home, some of the tips in our Survival Guide to Working from Home can help you find your focus and get motivated to deliver outstanding work.”

Suzanne gives her top tips for remote daydreamers:

  • Substitute the commute: Give yourself a reason to get out of bed. While you may not have to rush to catch your train, committing to a quick morning jog or a living-room pilates session can be an effective way to not only get your blood pumping, but also to signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work.
  • Dress for success: When you’re not seeing anyone during the day, it can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas or loungewear. But getting dressed for work — even if only into smart casual clothes — can go a long way in helping switch your mindset from relaxation to work and prepare you for the day ahead.
  • Don’t let old habits die: As best as you can, try to keep up your normal office routine while at home. If you typically take a mid-morning coffee break at the office, do it at home — fix yourself a hot drink and use the time to have a brief online catch-up with a colleague. Maintaining even minor daily rituals create continuity for the days when you’re working from home.
  • The deafening silence: If you’re used to working in a busy office, you may find the sudden lack of noise and buzz oddly distracting. Playing some music or a news broadcast softly in the background may help cut through the silence of your workspace and help you focus on your work. Just avoid anything that’s likely to cause further distraction, like upbeat pop music or a podcast that you like.
  • Set objectives for yourself: If you find the hours getting away from you, setting personal objectives for what you want to achieve during the day can help keep you on track. You may find it useful to set twice-daily objectives — one set to complete by lunchtime, and another to complete by the end of the working day. This minimises your risk of procrastinating and enables you to prioritise more important tasks for the start of the day.
  • Respect other people’s time: Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean there aren’t people relying on you to pull your weight. Working from home requires a great deal of trust between colleagues, and one way to earn that trust is by respecting other people’s time. Remember that your colleagues and customers have objectives too, and waiting on you to respond to their emails or complete your part of a project impacts their ability to do their work.
Suggested Daily Schedule: The Daydreamer
7.00Wake up
7.15Have breakfast and check your emails or catch up on the news
7.45Exercise
8.15Shower and get dressed
8.45Start work — set out your daily objectives and categorise them by urgency or importance. Highlight any tasks or deadlines that you absolutely cannot miss
10.30Make a coffee or healthy snack and have a catch-up with someone from your team
10.45Back to work
12.15Take a step back – Revisit your daily objectives and assess your progress. If you’ve gotten off track, adjust your afternoon schedule to get yourself back on track
12.30Lunch break – get up and get away from your working area. If it’s safe to do so, go outside for some fresh air; otherwise, stay indoors and read, prepare a nutritious lunch or work on a hobby. Take a full 30-60 minutes to give your brain and body a chance to recharge
13.30Back to work
15.30Time for a break — make a cup of tea and get up to stretch your legs. If you’ve been using a computer all day, try not to look at any screens, including your mobile phone
15.45Back to work — the final stretch! Revisit your daily objectives to assess your progress. Focus on getting your most urgent tasks done before the end of the day
17.15Start to wind down for the day. Finish off any remaining urgent tasks, and perhaps look at re-prioritising any uncompleted tasks for the following day
18.00Log off and shut down your computer (or, at the very least, your work emails). By giving your workday a definitive end, you can help improve your focus during the day and avoid working late into the night to finish tasks you should have completed during normal business hours

THE UNWILLING RECLUSE

Suzanne Feeney comments: “Social butterfly or not, long periods of isolation can bring any one of us down. Whilst work may be getting done, managers and employers must be privy to the fact that prolonged periods of remote working can have an impact on mental health & wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the power of small talk, and stay in touch with workers who have been laid-off temporarily or on shorter working weeks – use this opportunity to arrange training and upskilling for them.” 

Suzanne gives her top tips for those at risk of isolating themselves too much:

  • Ditch text chat: Avoid long, lonely hours staring at a screen by ditching email and chat messages for video and phone calls for anything that takes more than a couple of messages to explain. Making this your default method for longer conversations will help you to maintain meaningful relationships with your colleagues.
  • Focus on quality communication: While it’s important to keep conversations flowing, avoid initiating conversations for the sake of it as these can be disruptive for others. Virtual coffee breaks can provide a great opportunity for an informal catch up, just make sure to check before you call.
  • Engage in meetings: You don’t have to be an extrovert to be impacted by loneliness. If you normally stay muted on calls, set yourself the challenge of sharing a thought or offering a suggestion, and keep your camera switched on. This will help to boost your concentration and keep you feeling connected with your colleagues.
  • Get comfortable with quiet: In these strange times, there’s no getting away from a certain amount of solitude. Embracing it can help you to re-position your mindset and help you find opportunities to be productive when you’ve just got yourself for company. If you find silence deafening, put on some white noise or relaxing music. Keep your phone out of reach and try tackling those tasks that have been on your to-do list for too long.
  • Help others: We’re social creatures and you’re definitely not the only one missing the social interactions of office life. Be proactive in providing opportunities for others to engage. Set up a forum on your intranet to get colleagues talking or arrange a virtual quiz. These small actions can make a big difference at a time when many of us are feeling disconnected.

To download Robert Walters Survival Guide to Working from Home click here.

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