Health and Wellbeing · 28 September 2017

The productivity swings and roundabouts of working alone

There are specific challenges to working alone
There are specific challenges to working alone

When it comes to work/life balance running your own enterprise sounds ideal. You have greater control over your working pattern and, if “corporate life” isn’t your bag, you relish setting your own agenda and having the extra autonomy that could gift you the lifestyle you truly desire.

A significant number in the UK are embarking on this path. Indeed, according to Office for National Statistics’ February to April figures published in June this year, of the 31.95 million people in work in the UK, 4.8 million (15 per cent) are self-employed – an increase of over 100,000 against comparable 2016 figures.
 
But while having more control over your day-to-day activities as you pursue your business ambition, it’s inevitable that there’ll be challenges along the way to contend with. These can include, for example, blurring boundaries between work and down time which squeeze the time you might have to recharge your batteries. Then there are the potential feelings of isolation from the “outside world” for home workers (in particular), with ACAS2 reporting that this group are left with occasional or frequent feelings of isolation. And holiday breaks can come back to bite you if you miss opportunities because you’ve taken your eye off the ball.

Alone or in isolation these factors can be a drag and sap your energy and productivity, so here’s a few ideas that might help you keep on top of your game.
 
Create healthy boundaries

Quite often you’ll be harder on yourself than with others. Therefore, work out the hours of the day when you’re most productive and structure your days around this. Working all hours or taking unnecessary calls at “silly o’clock” might, ultimately, do you no favours. By having a clear boundary between work and “home” life, you’ll most likely find you have more focus and more energy to tackle your tasks.

Food for thought 

It may sound obvious but look after yourself. When you grab lunch or have cause to pause, try to resist remaining where you’ve been working. Stretch your legs and get a change of scene or a blast of fresh air. When it comes to nourishment, pick foods that will give you enough energy for the rest of your day and avoid overdoing it on caffeine and sugary foods if you can as these will only contribute to making you feel more tired in the long run.
 
Working that network

You don’t necessarily need to have people working near you or with you to benefit from kinship, camaraderie and support. You can develop your own network of people upon whom you can call through sites such as LinkedIn or you can take advantage of professional membership organisations.
 
Take on isolation

If you’re feeling the pinch of isolation why not explore ways you can be around others. This could, for example (depending on the nature of your work), include working online from, say, a coffee shop a few hours a week or desk-renting in a co-working space. Additionally, think traditional over digital when it comes to communication. If it’s suitable, talk over the phone rather than resorting to email and try face-to-face business catch-ups if practicable.
 
Your space

Your work environment can have a big impact on your productivity. For example, natural light can have a positive effect on sleep patterns, which in turn can bolster productivity during your waking – and working – hours.Therefore get plenty of light in. And for home workers, when it comes to physical boundaries, define your work area and separate it from the rest of your home so that work doesn’t take over your whole home and life!
 
Working on you own has many upsides, but by identifying the (often) inherent challenges and working around them will undoubtedly contribute to the success of your endeavours.

For more information to help support the health and wellbeing of your employees please click here.Advertisement
 
1 Office For National Statistics, UK labour market (June 2017):https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/june2017#main-points-for-february-to-april-2017
 
2 Home is where the work is: A new study of homeworking in Acas – and beyond (2013)http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/f/2/Home-is-where-the-work-is-a-new-study-of-homeworking-in-Acas_and-beyond.pdf
 
3 Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study (2014): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031400/

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