Remote positions and working from home are becoming increasingly common and highly desirable among much of the workforce. While there has been a demand for more remote work for a while, the COVID pandemic forced nearly all companies to allow home working, with the benefits and challenges this offers.
Working from home allows workers more flexibility and freedom, both when they work and where they work. However, there are many challenges, such as being disconnected from your teams and throwing people’s work-life balance into chaos.
So, if you’ve found yourself wondering how to be productive at home while having your attention pulled in a thousand directions, whether by the kids showing you screens, the dog barking in the hallway, or your social media, we’ve got some tips to help.
Get the Right Tools for the Job – the Complete Remote Workspace of Spike
One of the easiest ways to boost the productivity of remote workers is to ensure they have the right tools! For a dispersed team, this means a comprehensive digital workspace. Of course, we may be biased, but for us, Spike has all the features your team needs to stay on track when working from home.
This includes different communication channels (we’ll get to why they’re important later), tools for scheduling and structuring your work, features to keep your work-life balance in check, and more. Some of the essential parts of Spike that you’ll use to improve your productivity when working from home are:
Spike brings you the power of traditional email in a modern form, with IM-style messages that cut the clutter (like headings and signatures) to leave you with what’s important.
Priority Email Inbox
Spike automatically separates your priority emails, leaving you to focus while pushing everything else into the “Other” box to deal with in your own time.
An essential part of remote work, video conferences or one-on-one calls are now used in place of meetings around the world. Spike offers quick launch video calls with team members and full video conferencing with anyone, anywhere.
Talk to the right people at the right time with Spike Groups, which offer the simplest way to collaborate with your team. Manage and execute projects together in real-time, through text, images, GIFS, files, and more.
Personal and collaborative digital notes within your email Inbox, allowing you to do anything from jotting down your thoughts to planning out new products without ever switching apps.
Tasks & To-Do Lists
Plan your remote work (and free time) with progress-tracking tasks and interactive to-do lists. All of which can be shared with team members or kept to yourself.
Find things faster, whether it’s the file your team member sent you last week or photos from your mum. You’ll never have to scroll through emails again; just type and go!
Align Expectations With Everyone in Your Home
If somebody in your house (whether your family, spouse, partner, or roommate) has never worked from home, it can be hard for them to realize that being at the house does not equal being available for other activities.
You need to set clear expectations for what you can and can’t do while working from home. That is not to say that you can’t put the laundry on or whip up some food while on a break – that’s one of the perks of remote work. But, it is always worth clarifying that work time is still work time, whether in the home or office.
If you make this clear a the start, then you’ll avoid plenty of problems down the line.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Remote work is great, but can also be isolating, both professionally and personally. To stave off this separation and stop it from developing into burnout, ensure that you keep communication channels open when working from home.
Formal Communication for Remote Employee Productivity
Ensure that you set up the proper communication channels for your professional communication and then clearly communicate these to your team. This not only helps keep correspondence in work clear and concise but will also reduce the chances of work barging into your personal life – nobody wants the quarterly reports sliding into their DMs.
Informal Communication When Working at Home
It can be easy to let informal work chat fall to the side when we are at home, but this “water cooler” talk is a really important part of a company’s culture. So when looking at how to work from home efficiently, don’t underestimate these “non-work” elements.
Take the time to set up channels specifically for this kind of interaction and set aside time at the start of meetings. Make a point to check in with work friends, share personal stories, and ask people how they are doing with working remotely. It will pay dividends.
Work Consistent Hours
When working at home, it’s easy to get distracted, ignore your work, and commit to other activities, which can lead to a lack of consistency in your working hours, aka, a lack of routine.
While this may not seem like a problem at first, a lack of routine can lead to stress, poor diet, poor sleep, and much more. All of which are problems themselves but also have a knock-on effect on other, longer-term issues.
That said, your routine doesn’t necessarily have to be “normal work hours” and in no way has to be dictated by your company. Instead, find the times that work for you because creating a routine will go a long way to help you be more efficient when working from home.
For some people, this means starting way earlier than they would have in the office since you can jump out of bed, put on some coffee, and get straight to work, rather than sitting in traffic for two hours. For others, this might mean taking a slightly later start to the day but working a little later. Either way is acceptable, just make sure that it works within your company. More importantly, make sure not to start early and finish late, which takes us onto our next point…
Have a Clear End Time
“I just need to finish this slide”
“Once I send this email, I’ll be done”
“I’m just going to get ahead of my list for tomorrow”
How many times have you caught yourself saying something like this? Working from home might sound like you’ll have a better work-life balance, but it can be dangerously easy to just keep on working into the night. When you’re in an office, people tend to leave at roughly the same time, bringing your workday to an end. When you’re at home, it’s just you and the computer.
To stay productive while working from home in the long term, make sure you have a clear finish time each day and (we can’t stress this enough) stick to it!
Structure Your Day as If You Were in The Office
This doesn’t mean getting into your car and sitting in the driveway for an hour before starting your day, but it does mean thinking about the way you would normally structure your work. Basing your new work-from-home schedule off your classic office life can really help.
If you would generally work the morning with maybe one or two breaks before taking lunch and then returning to work with one more break, try to do the same at home. This will stop you from leaning too far in either direction – too little work, being distracted at home, or too much work by eating, sleeping, and living at your desk.
Create a Space, and Make it Your Office
Many of us don’t have the space to create our own office, but you should always make sure you have somewhere to work. Even if this is just a corner of a table that you carve out as your own, it’s vital to set aside a workspace as different from home space.
This allows you to create a mental break between when you’re sitting in your “office” and taking your free time.
Additionally, you should try to make that space work for you! There are plenty of things to consider when setting up a home office, but some essential points are:
The location of your home office within your home
Is it quiet? Is there light?
Ergonomics are essential
Head forward, forearms and thighs parallel to the floor, back supported, and shoulders relaxed. Finally, invest in furniture that works for you, especially a chair!
The importance of aesthetics
Working from home won’t be productive if your workspace is uninspiring. So think about the way it looks and feels, and don’t be afraid to redecorate.
Clear and clutter-free
Before starting each remote workday, make sure that your office space is clear of junk and free of clutter.
Just so we are clear, grabbing a coffee and then sitting back down at your computer to drink it does not count as a break. Efficiently working from home means knowing when not to do work. Set aside time in your daily calendar for breaks and stick to it as much as you would your work time.
While it can be tempting to just flick over to social media for five minutes, it will be much more beneficial for you actually to get away from your desk. If possible, get outside for some fresh air and greenery, or have a chat with your housemate (assuming they aren’t working, of course). Among other things, breaks can:
Restore motivation, especially for bigger goals
Help with both long and short-term memory
Improve physical and mental wellbeing
Stop “decision fatigue,” which can cause bad decision-making and procrastination
Remove Notifications for Social Media
Social media is made to get your attention – every beep, whistle, and ping is crafted to draw you in and keep you there. Unfortunately, when working from home, it’s all too easy to fall into this trap.
Being productive at home and avoiding the social media trap starts with turning off the notifications! This includes your phone as well as your computer – and certainly don’t have any social channels open in another browser tab while you’re trying to work.
While it may seem counterintuitive, you might also find it useful to turn off all app notifications, including your work ones! This will help you stay focused rather than wanting to open every email that arrives or picture that pops up. Just make sure that your company has a good communication culture and you’re not going to miss anything important.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself Or Your Team
Nobody is focused all the time. Even the best remote employee is not so disciplined as to never be distracted. So, if your focus wanes or your productivity falters, don’t sweat it. These things happen, and being overly self-critical isn’t going to help. However, balancing how much we push ourselves with our self-care is vital for stopping burnout.
What’s more, this same forgiveness should be extended to your team – they can’t be perfect all the time! So if there are meetings when you see them staring into the distance or a time or two that they start late because they’re focused on other things, that’s ok and should be treated as such.
How to Be More Efficient Working From Home
More and more people are working remotely, which means we’re all figuring out together the best way to be productive at home. These are our tips to help you boost your workflow, but it’s always worth testing out different methods of your own until you find a workflow that suits you.
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