For many people, ‘working from home’ can seem daunting because it is different from physically being in the office. With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing thousands of us to work remotely, some of us may feel that being at home is distracting and demotivating. The unfamiliarity of working remotely may make us wonder, “how can I be productive in the comfort of my own home?”
Well, working remotely is not a ‘new’ way to work. In fact, about 1.5 million people work from home under normal circumstances and many people actually prefer being at home because they feel they can create a positive and productive workspace.
So, how do we maintain productivity and positivity when working from home, especially during such a time of uncertainty? We’ve put together some top tips to get the most out of your home working environment…
1. Keep a constant flow of communication & collaboration with colleagues
It’s really important to maintain communication with your co-workers throughout your time working at home. You want your working day to feel as similar as possible to your day in the office – this means speaking with your colleagues whenever you feel like you need to. You do not want anyone to feel separate and isolated during this time. Workers need to feel like they are ‘all in this together’ and feel that if they need to speak with someone, they can reach them quickly and easily.
And this is where video conferencing comes in! Zoom, for example, allows colleagues to hold online meetings whenever they want. It is free, easy to set up and simple to use. Although email is useful and should still continue to be used to communicate, Zoom can significantly improve productivity at home, because you can actually see your colleagues and communicate with them as if you are in the same room. There is less likely to be any miscommunication and you will feel more connected to your coworkers. This can boost motivation and encourage a more positive mindset whilst at home.
Don’t forget to use Slack as a form of instant messaging with your colleagues – it supports the way people naturally work together, so you can collaborate with people online as efficiently as you do face-to-face, and share files too. Microsoft Teams is another great way to collaborate from home. Part of Office 365, the free version supports one-on-one and group video and audio calls, as well as file and screen sharing and online document collaboration.
So, it is clear that you can easily maintain constant communication and collaboration with your colleagues by using these online tools.
2. Get dressed!
You may be tempted to stay in your pyjamas, but actually, it is much better to get dressed so that you can get in the right mindset for getting things done and so you are psychologically prepared to start work. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting dressed up in business attire, but you should change out of your pyjamas and be ready to be productive, and ready for any video calls!
3. Create an ‘at home’ workspace
It is really important to find a space in your home where you feel you can work best. You want to sit somewhere quiet so that you can focus and not feel distracted in any way. This will differ from person to person, but really what is important is that you feel comfortable in a place where you know you can sit and get things done.
Definitely avoid staying in bed – you need to create a healthy, productive and positive workspace, similar to an office environment. This could mean setting up at your kitchen table, but if there are other people in your home you might want to find a room that you can claim as your own so that you are not distracted and can stay productive throughout the day.
4. Take your usual breaks & keep moving
Just as you need your breaks in the office, you also need to take breaks at home. It can be easy to slip into bad habits when working at home, like working through breaks. But you shouldn’t stay glued to your screen all day. It is important to take a break and get a cup of tea, just to give yourself some time to refresh and give your mind a rest!
Get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office. Take short, more frequent breaks rather than longer, less frequent ones. You don’t want your productivity and motivation levels to drop because you become tired and sluggish, so get up, stretch and get some fresh air so that when you return you feel ready to go again.
5. Maintain a routine & establish boundaries
Maintain a structured working day, the same as you would’ve had every day in the office. You need that structure so that you can set boundaries and know when it’s time to start your working day, and when it’s time to end it. You should keep the same routine every day – go to bed at a reasonable hour every night so that you get enough sleep and can get up early to start your day productively each morning.
At the end of a working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away papers and other items so that you can switch off properly from work and have your time to relax and re-energise for the next day.
6. Stay motivated & keep your spirits up
There is no doubt that this is an extremely worrying time for everyone. Keeping busy at work is actually a great way to keep motivated and stay positive, allowing us to temporarily tune out from the constant inundation of news that can cause stress and anxiety. If you are trying to get work done, you should turn off the ‘rolling’ news channel. Don’t let your phone distract you. In order to stay motivated when working from home, you need to treat it like the office. And you definitely need to keep your spirits up – that is why you should put effort into chatting with colleagues, taking breaks and keeping active.
So, although at first working remotely may seem unfamiliar, we will adapt to this change. And along the way we will learn and monitor how well we are working together and we can adjust and make any changes to how things are done so that we are working most effectively and efficiently during this time.
Whilst we do not know how long this necessary ‘working from home’ period will last, we do know that it will be for more than a couple of weeks. So, it is so important that employers recognise the stress and anxiety that many employees will be feeling at this time. We must develop strong and positive communication habits whilst at home so that we can support one another, keep morale up and support our businesses through this uncertain time.