Employers have become far more open to employees working from home over the past few years. It can be a dream come true for some, or it can be a nightmare if you're not prepared for the obstacles that come with it.
Many people enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home, but there are also some clear challenges that come with removing yourself from the traditional working environment that we all got used to. In this article, we'll walk through 7 tips to help you stay productive when working from home.
Start on time
One of the biggest challenges when working from home is finding a productive work rhythm. A useful way to overcome this is to start on time. It is common for people to overestimate the amount of time saved from their morning commute and as a result, not be prepared for the start of the day.
If you begin your work day on time, you’ll give yourself the best chance to get into a productive groove. It is important to start at a similar time as you normally would if you were on site. Oftentimes, the urgency and stress of beginning late can impact someone's focus and efficiency due to them feeling rushed. On the other hand, it’s common for people to feel too lax should they begin too early as they create the feeling of having ample time to complete tasks, which can in turn reduce focus.
Communicate expectations with other household members who may be there during work hours
It is vital to ensure you communicate your expectations with anyone who will be with you at home. This means setting up clear boundaries and making sure everyone understands what is expected during the work shift while sharing the space.
If you have other members in the household be that partners, children or housemates, for example, make sure to let them know what time you start working and where you plan to work from.
Choose a dedicated workspace
When working from home, it is important to find a space that you can call your own. This space should be dedicated exclusively to work and should have limited potential for distractions.
One way to achieve this is to choose a workspace that is separate from the living room or bedroom. This way, you will have uninterrupted access to your work area and won't be disturbed by family or roommates.
It is also important to choose a workspace that is comfortable. Make sure that the desk and chairs are adjustable, and that the lighting is adequate. Even better, using a space with natural light will significantly help your mental focus. You'll be spending a lot of time in this space, so make sure it's conducive to productivity.
Some businesses are willing to assist with covering some of the costs of remote work so it’s worth reaching out to your HR team to see if they can assist with setting yourself up for success through a good quality desk or chair etc.
Structure your day as you would in the office
A very helpful first step when setting yourself up for working at home is to structure your day like you would in the office. For example, set a schedule and stick to it. Make sure you clearly identify your start and finish time. This will help to ensure that you are getting the most out of your day.
The structure should include your downtime. It is important to allow yourself time for relaxation and entertainment after working hours which, while this sounds obvious, can be severely impacted by the lack of a clear cut-off from the end of the working day. You don’t want to get caught up in a meeting at 7 pm when you’d normally be home with your family should you have separated the two by a commute previously. Learn to say “No” as you would when you are in the office.
Pretend like you are in the office
If you are working from home, it is important to act like you are in the office. This means staying organised as though you are sharing the workspace.
Try to limit the number of stimuli around you. In a typical workplace, you naturally avoid distractions such as the TV and radio playing in the background. All of these distractions can take your focus away from your work. While using your phone at work can be quite common, when you are at home, try to ensure any time you need to view it, there is a work-related focus.
Take clear breaks
It’s crucial to take clear breaks so you don’t get too tired. It is equally important to not take too many since you are not in the same space as your coworkers. If you are supposed to take a break at 10 am, take it. Put your status message “on break” and put it back on to “active” when you’re back.
Productivity can be hugely helped by getting up for a short 5-minute walk or stretch to get some fresh air every hour or two. This will help you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
While on a short break, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will keep your energy levels up during the day.
Pick a definitive finish time
When working from home, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and lose track of time. One important tip for staying productive is to set a definitive finish time. If you are supposed to leave the office at 5 pm, then stop working at 5 pm. This should be included as part of your work structure as discussed in point 4.
We have seen this far too often where employees have no clear cut-off given their laptops or desktops are readily available. To avoid burnout and maintain a healthy balance, set yourself a relatively strict finish time. This will help drive your concentration as the day closes as well as enable you to wind down and relax in the evenings.
If you are interested in finding a job that accommodates partial or fully remote work, reach out to our team today.