With the arrival of Covid-19 this year, many people have been forced out of the office and into a home-work environment. This can take some getting used to, with more distractions, less direct communication with colleagues as well as all the ups and downs of these unprecedented times, work productivity can be affected.
We’ve compiled 7 of the best tips for working from home, to ensure you get the most out of this change of situation, staying productive and creative whilst also looking after your mental and physical well-being.
- Don’t disregard your commute.
Rather than getting up five minutes before you are due to start work, try and follow your usual routine. As you won’t have the usual train, bus or car ride to work, take this time to go for a walk whilst listening to music or a podcast, whatever you would do on your commute. This will help you to mentally prepare for work at the start of your day or wind down at the end of your day.
- Dress for success.
Whilst it’s tempting to stay in comfy leggings or tracksuits all day, this won’t necessarily help you stay productive. Keeping to your usual routine as much as possible, getting up at the same time, showering and dressing for work may help you to shift your mindset from home life to work life. There is also some research which suggests that dressing appropriately can also change the way in which you perform. Choose the space in which you intend to work and set up your optimal video conferencing area. With meetings being online, this is the professional face you are presenting to clients and colleagues so it is important to spend some time getting it right.
- Clearly set out your expectations for your team.
Being at home and not having the face to face, day to day interactions with your team can make getting things done more difficult. It is important to be clear with your colleagues as to how you intend to communicate with them in order to ensure you are all on the same page. Not having the office setting can also lead to feeling isolated so having various ways of staying in communication with each other is essential. Using a chat thread, or video conferencing for a more personal approach can encourage productivity and comradery even whilst working remotely. Some video conferencing applications also have whiteboard and chat functions so you are able to brainstorm as you go.
- Schedule your day.
Communicate your start and end times as well as breaks so your team know when you are available. In an office setting, they would usually be able to see this but working remotely makes this much more difficult. If you need to step away for any reason, let your colleagues know that you won’t be available for a short time. If you usually have more flexible hours, communicate these clearly as well.
- Take breaks.
It’s easy to just stay at a computer all day and barely getting up. This doesn’t increase productivity but in fact can diminish it. Taking breaks in between concentrated hours of work can help clear your head and then return refocussed. It is also important that during these breaks you get up and leave your work area. If possible, get outside and take a walk or do some stretching or yoga. Sitting at a computer all day can lead to back problems and other issues so don’t forget to move! Listening to music with your eyes closed or meditating can also give your eyes a rest, if you have been staring at a screen all day. You could also take this time to play a quick game if the kids are about or to take the dog for a walk.
- Don’t forget the importance of social interactions.
Staying connected on a personal level as well as a professional one is essential. Whilst you are unable to meet in person or bump into people in the office you can still stay in touch remotely. Try scheduling virtual coffee dates to catch up with colleagues and see how they are doing or you could try organising a remote happy hour social for your team.
- Stay focused.
Minimising distractions is extremely important when trying to stay focused on work at home. Kids or loved ones can often be a distraction from work as can the news or social media. If possible, try and separate your workspace. Rather than just sitting in the living room and working, find another corner or room that you are able to go and work in. This will then differentiate work time from leisure time. In your breaks you can see the kids or watch the news but then once your break is over, you can return to your workspace and carry on. Be aware of what is distracting you and try and plan accordingly.
Working from home, may require some adapting and getting used to but with some planning and persistence you will be able to stay focused and productive.