As most of us have been remote working since March of this year, we have naturally been speaking to many HR professionals to either help them find a new role, or working with them on recruiting HR talent. Naturally, one things that always comes up, is how we have all been managing working from home and it’s been interesting hear what many have had to say.
Interestingly, the one conclusion that we have come to from those conversations is that remote working isn’t what people expect it to be. Due to the recent events happening around the world with COVID-19 many workers have been forced to work remotely and let’s face it, it isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future. In fact, for many working from home will be integral to many peoples’ working patterns for the years to come and most of us will have a blend of working from home and in the office.
One of the biggest challenges remote workers face is with their productivity levels. Many struggle with the lack of oversight from their managers which they are usually accustomed to. Even if you think you don’t have any issues with productivity levels while working from home you could still improve it. Through talking to many of our clients and candidates alike, we have drawn up some interesting points raised around how to be more productive when working from home.
Break up Your Day
The key is to break up your day and take time away from your laptop/computer. This sounds obvious, but it’s incredibly important. When lockdowns started to happen, many of us thought we would be even more productive. However, we all know there are those non-work distractions around the house and actually it turns out, non-work distractions are necessary for knowledge work. Take that walk, go for a jog, read a book, or listen to some music. These diversions help, not hurt, your work from home productivity.
Create Different Work Zones
If you have the space (and if you work on a laptop), create different work zones. If you live in a relatively small apartment, do this by moving between pieces of furniture, or if you are lucky enough to have a home office and a large kitchen table, work between the two.
May be answer some emails on the sofa, do your strategic thinking whilst having a walk and fill out those spreadsheets at the dinner table. For whatever reason, you’ll probably concentrate for an hour or more at a time this way, whereas if you try sitting in the home office or dinner table all day, you’ll mind will wander. If you think about it when we were all in the office, we actually do this exact same thing when going from meeting to meeting etc. So remote work isn’t much different.
Dedicated Working Time
Prioritise and dedicate your time for work. Working from home means it is most important to have a dedicated time to work. Uncertain hours tend to make us push work further into day and procrastinate, making a work-day longer and more tiresome.
Spend Less Time in Your Inbox
Your email inbox is probably the biggest distraction. Take 10 seconds to filter through every email in your inbox. If it takes less than 2 minutes to respond, do it immediately. For emails that take longer than 2 minutes to resolve, add them to a process folder. Go back to assign them into your to-do list OR delegate them to someone else later.
Don’t Try to Respond to Everything Immediately
Just because communication should be happening throughout the day doesn’t mean you have to respond to every message or email you receive as soon as it comes across. Set specific times to check everything and respond so that you can still focus on your work.
Reliable Internet Connection
As obvious as it sounds, make sure you have a reliable internet connection and good internet speed, test things like email sending and receiving, test your screen sharing tools, Teams, Zoom etc. Test the display and audio on your live calls and recordings because these are just some of the essential tools you will need to communicate with the outside world when you work from home.
Have a Schedule
This is a must, you need to set up a schedule, it doesn’t matter if you’re working from home, you’ll need to be disciplined and set up times for all the tasks you have to do throughout the day and of course try to stick to it. Another tip is to avoid distractions, such as, social media. Put your phone on silent and try to stay focused on the task at hand. Procrastination is one of the most common errors for productivity and you have got to stay focused, so avoid distractions.
Have a Dedicated Work Space
Have a separate area of your apartment or home dedicated to work. Many people we talk to say home important this has been since the pandemic. If you can work from a separate room where you have a desk. This allows you to mentally separate “work” time from “relax” time. It will help with your sleep and it’s easier for you not to think about work 24/7. AS we said before, there is no harm breaking up your day by working in separate zones.
Take Regular Breaks
If you’re working from home, you need to take regular breaks. Ensure that there is time during these breaks where your brain does not need to ‘consume’ information: no smartphone, TV, newspapers,… a short walk outside for example is much more relaxing.
Develop a Routine
Develop a routine to structure your day. Your routine does not have to resemble a typical day at the office, though. It’s OK to split the day into bursts of work with time to rest in between. But give your days at least some regular structure. Otherwise, work and life might blend into one, and you’ll end up with little to no opportunity to rest properly.
Figure Out Your Most Productive Time
Working from home gives you a lot of flexibility. You have a chance to be more productive, but also procrastinate. Given this fact, my number one tip would be to figure out your most productive time. When you’ve determined your productive time, make sure you use it effectively. Cut out all the faff that fills up other parts of your day and work on what’s important. You can do other stuff when you’re less productive.
Plan Your Day
Have a clear plan for what you have to do during the day. This will help you get through everything quicker because it makes your day more predictable. Define time frames for your work. Otherwise, you can push yourself to work long hours and find yourself exhausted by the middle of the week. Since working from home is more comfortable than the office, don’t forget to take small breaks to keep your energy high. In addition to regular breaks, get up and stretch for a few minutes each hour so that your body doesn’t become a permanent part of the chair
Exercise & Stretch Regularly
Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity. Regularly stretching helps you maintain great posture.
We know that many of these seem obvious, but after eight months of remote working, it can be easy to slide into some bad habits. Our well-being is so important during these challenging times and we hope that there may be a few points in here which help us all to continue being productive and healthy, whilst working from home.