If you’ve decided (or reluctantly) been made to work from home during the Coronavirus outbreak, then this may be a new experience for you. Separating your work life from your home due to Covid 19, when in the same surroundings can be difficult. We’re going to give tips to identify ways for you or your employees to work from home effectively.
More of us are lifting the lids on our laptops and deciding whether we are going to work from home on the sofa, dining room table. Whether this is due to the Coronavirus pandemic or not, the spread of the coronavirus is not the only viral effect on work remotely. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a spare room set up as an office. I must admit, once or twice, I’ve worked from the car and found a calming view to work from. Not strictly working from home, agreed, but deciding where to start our work process before 9 am can make a difference between creativity and a less-than-productive day.
More people and companies are working from home even before the Coronavirus pressure, and over the last 10 years, there has been nearly a 75% increase in remote working. This equates to millions of people around the world moving out of their offices and businesses and choosing to stay at home to work.
Remote employees work from home can seem like a great opportunity but brings with it some challenges. When you stay home, all of your home comforts, as well as the washing up you put off from yesterdays pizza night, can all be everyday distractions. Even the Netflix or Disney+ subscription can make you avoid ways to work from home effectively.
Here are some tips to help you improve your productivity and when you are called back into work, you’ll be able to identify productivity levels that are way above what your employer thought possible and ‘negotiate’ a flexible, remote working future!
How to Work and Get Employees to From Home Effectively
Wake Up At Your Normal Time
If you now work at home because of Coronavirus, maybe even being forced to due to regulations to combat Coronavirus spread, you may automatically think you can set the alarm later. Just because you aren’t going into the office, doesn’t mean you can have a lie-in. I have a routine for my mornings that I’ve used for years, and I refuse to break this just because I’m now working from home. My body clock is pretty set to these times anyway, and if I wake up any later, it will feel like the weekend to me.
Use the extra time to prepare for your day and get any potential distractions out of the way. Throw on some washing, tidy up the kitchen, place those Dominos pizza boxes into recycling and make a fresh pot of coffee. There’s no vending machine or drive-thru at home so this time, usually used for commuting, will help get your coffee and breakfast fix!
Establish a Routine
If you’ve never worked from home before then establishing a new routine may take a few days. We’ve already mentioned about waking up at the same time and preparing yourself for the working day but now that time has started, you need structure. When do you usually take a break in work? This may be the same at home, but you may also find you take less or more breaks and find yourself hitting the snack cupboard. Discipline is key here, and thinking if you were in work, would you be snacking, or having lunch at this time. The fridge can be your worst enemy…
If you usually work in a large office and don’t have music on, will using Apple Music or Spotify in the background help or hinder you? Try it both ways and see what helps. Different music helps at different times. I have the most eclectic mix of music. Heavy stuff when I’m on deadline or feeling like there’s a lot to juggle, jazz for general background music, but then I also have random rain noises when I need to focus on one job specifically (yeah, I know, that last one is random but try it, here’s a link…). This blocks out all other sounds and is great for focus.
Keep in Touch With Colleagues
Homeworking can be quiet, and we need to look after our own mental health if you live on your own. These times can be in for a while, so keeping in touch with colleagues via email, text, phone or video can help vent frustrations as well as allow social interactions we all crave. We use Zoom to connect with our team for meetings, and we will be increasing our use of it now we are all remote working.
General questions we would send over email should now be done over a quick Zoom or phone call. This way you can hear and engage with other colleagues. When you have these interactions you are more likely to have that water-cooler, impartial meeting where questions are raised and creativity flourishes.
Don’t send out emails with a question that demands one answer. Phone the person instead, and have those interactions you are used to in the office. Please speak to your co-workers, they’ll probably be happy with the call!
I can’t say I heed this advice myself and the number of times I ignore my Apple Watch telling me to get off my ass every hour is not ideal. But, I do know when my productivity is dropping. So, even if I don’t get up and move around (as I should), I may get lost in YouTube for 10 minutes before getting back to my list in a more productive way.
Usually twice a day I will play table tennis with a colleague to get the blood flowing, talk shop, and take a break. But that is no longer an option and virtual ping pong is not as satisfying.
I’m a designer at heart and creativity flows during different times and situations, regardless of whether I’m writing or designing. Don’t feel guilty about having some time where you need to take an early lunch to reset.
Working from home is all about trust. If you do take a break, or have to adjust your hours for the best productivity levels, then let your colleagues know. They’re probably in a similar boat and might be worried about perception themselves. If you don’t, you may be running the risk of having your manager think you’re on the sofa, watching the Mandalorian, eating leftover pizza (yes I talk about pizza a lot), still wearing yesterdays clothes.
Although, according to case studies, this expectation is entirely incorrect.
Having newly formed freedom from the office can leave you with mixed emotions. It can be too quiet in one instance or there can be too many of those familiar distractions. For example, parents and neighbours don’t usually consider work from home practices as a reason to stay away. Make sure that people understand that you are at home but at work! As mentioned earlier, sometimes getting in the car and working from there can be an excellent way to remove any distractions from within your home.
It’s essential to work from home effectively in an environment that enables maximum productivity. When home and work-life start to merge, you can become distracted quickly, so from the start, set up strict rules.
Leave all of the washing, cooking, cleaning to ideally, before you start your working day. Decide on any physical activity times and get a timetable down. It is important to separate all of these distractions to work from home effectively. Create a home working environment that is different between your home and work-life.
Plan Out Your Day
Creating a list at the end of the previous day will help focus minds and objectives. I prefer creating a list the night before, so I know what I still need to do the following day. As Wesley Clover is international, any requests received via different timezones can be scheduled in accordingly the next morning.
Creating the list earlier allows you to review what you have achieved during the day as well as identify what’s outstanding. This will put you in a positive mindset which identifies individual successes. Using a list created yesterday, you can quickly get going with what you need to complete. This is instead of remembering what you achieved and going over trails of emails.
The Coronavirus outbreak are forcing millions to build a work from home policy quickly. Finding your own way to work from home where possible will be a bit of trial and error for many people. For instance, yesterday I was at the iMac, at a desk, but today I am on the Macbook on the sofa. Here, I got much more work done. Trying different places and finding where you are most productive is essential. Don’t just assume your home-office is the best place for you to work from home effectively.
Create a routine by writing a list the night before, so you’re ready to go. Get all washing and tidying out of the way before you start work. Remove any of these potential distractions to work more efficiently. And finally, don’t forget to speak to your colleagues instead of emailing. It would be best if you looked after co-workers mental health as well as your own.
I enjoy working at home but am also missing the office environment. I didn’t enjoy needing to tell employees to work from home due to Coronavirus but guidance on regulations to combat the Coronavirus outbreak were clear.