In a matter of a few short weeks, the world has been forced to drastically change the way people go to work. With social distancing and isolation measures becoming the norm, those who are lucky enough to have the option are now implementing working from home plans. And for many of us, work makes for a great distraction from the state of the world.
Whether you prefer working from home or miss coming into the office, working from home presents a new set of challenges. As a company that has always had flexible remote working arrangements, here are our tips for maintaining productivity while working from home.
Plan Your Day and Maintain Routine
When transitioning to working from home, try to plan your day and map out exactly what you want to achieve each day. Try to maintain your typical daily routine as best as possible; if you tend to have lunch at midday, continue to do so. Are there typical tasks that you usually perform at specific times? Schedule them in. Structure your day around the tasks you want to have completed, or achievements you want to have attained by the end of the day.
As best you can, try to maintain your usual routine both during your working hours and before starting work. Ensure that you prepare for your day similarly to how you would when going into the office; eat breakfast, drink your coffee, have a shower, and brush your teeth. Best to dress how you would usually dress for the office, as you never know when you might have to take a video call (this includes pants, to avoid unprofessional moments when you need to move during a video call ?).
Once you are ready to start working, structure your day the way you would normally at the office. Don’t forget to eat! Without the distraction of coworkers getting up to go to lunch, some may find that they forget to eat.
Bonus: put your usual commute time toward something that will either make you a little more relaxed or give you a feeling of accomplishment. Depending on your usual commute times, you could cram in some stretching or breathing exercises, listen a podcast, read a chapter of your book, get a chore done now or go for a walk.
Set Up Your Space
Tempting as it is, working from home is not an excuse to stay in bed all day – in fact, working from the bedroom can be problematic in more ways than one. Working from bed can blur the line between home life and work life, making you feel like you’re constantly at work and lack an appropriate work-life balance. Furthermore, using electronic devices (eg. laptops or mobile phones) before sleeping hampers your ability to get to sleep, by suppressing your melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) and thus is critical to your ability to sleep. And sleepy workers become less productive workers.
When working from home, find a quiet spot, away from pets or children, and clear a space. Studies have shown that an ordered or uncluttered desk space can impair your cognitive function, by reducing your ability to focus. Also, the feeling of an over-cluttered home has been linked to greater propensity to procrastinate.
Think about how comfortable your workstation is for working hours at a time. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- How high is your screen?
Try to find a way to have your screen at eye level to avoid hunching over and placing unnecessary strain on your back. You could invest in a monitor riser, or simply place a stack of books under your monitor.
- Keyboard and mouse placement
If working on a laptop without external monitors, try to use a separate mouse and keyboard so you can keep your screen at eye level but the correct height for your keyboard and mouse to avoid injury.
- Are your desk and chair at appropriate heights?
Practice proper technique when typing or using your mouse by ensuring that your desk and chair are at the correct height. When using your keyboard and mouse, your wrists should not touch the desk/keyboard. Sustained poor technique can result in repetitive strain, so try to keep wrists straight.
Protect your eyes by ensuring that the room you work in has enough light. Try to have plenty of light without it being directly ahead of you or reflecting off your screen.
Learn more about ergonomics and working from home safely here.
During times of social isolation, it is important to occasionally schedule in times with your coworkers where you might usually go for a walk or grab a coffee. However, getting bogged down in unnecessary meetings hinders your productivity severely. When arranging meetings, ask whether it’s really needed or whether you can succinctly convey your conversation through either email or a chat tool. If deemed necessary, be mindful of how much time is required. No need to round up to the nearest 30 minutes, if the meeting only needs 20 minutes then simply book for 20.
When holding meetings, turn your camera on. Not only is it good for the social connection, but also allows nuances like people’s reactions, humour (and sarcasm ?) to be fully understood.
It’s easy to get bogged down in notifications from friends and loved ones, especially in uncertain times. Switch off your mobile phone until you have a break, or turn it on silent and leave it in another room. If, however, you require your phone to do your job or to be accessible to your children, here are a few ways to minimise distractions from your phone:
- turn off notifications from social media
- check which applications have permission to give push notifications and only leave on the ones you need
- turn off data/wifi and only use calls or text messages – if someone needs you urgently, these are the channels they tend to use.
- set aside a specific time to check emails.
Follow these tips and in no time you’ll be proficient at working from home. If you want to boost your business’ productivity, chat to us about how SMS will shave hours off your communications tasks today.