As mobile technology continues to evolve and as cloud computing becoming more and more common, a steadily growing number of people are contemplating to start their home-based businesses, and/or online operations, and more and more companies as starting to open remote options either for regular employees or freelancers.
Now, with the COVID19 outbreak, remote work has become the norm in most businesses where it’s feasible, helping to keep employees healthy, safe, and also, helping to flatten the curve and get back things to normal.
And even though some studies generally stated that remote work makes employees healthier, overall more productive, and happier, leaving the office and entering the “home office” definitely has its own challenges and potential pitfalls as well.
For starters, “company time” can become a much looser definition, and you might be tempted to spend said company time on the couch, napping or enjoying a well-deserved small break that turns into binge-watching on of your favorite shows until late at night. You can also struggle to get up in time – if you can even get up at an appropriate time for that matter.
So, working from home definitely has its own set of ups and downs. How can you remain productive in such a setting? How can you keep in touch effectively with your coworkers to ensure that business operations are going smoothly? To help you in these rough pandemic times, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling 5 effective ways to boost your productivity in your “home office”.
Get prepared for work the same way you did before
Without a single doubt, one of the best things about working from home is to get your daily tasks done and still wear your pajamas or nothing else but your underwear the whole day.
As tempting as it sounds, dropping out of your usual morning routine can have a direct impact on the amount of work you can do. As you know, people are creatures of habit, and the habits that we develop can turn into actual triggers over time.
Do you have a regular workout regimen that you stick to no matter what? You know, even at the end of a long day, once you put on your workout clothes, you feel that you’re ready to rock and conquer that workout.
The same analogy applies to work as well. Getting up in time and dressing up in the clothes you usually wear to work can help you shift your mindset and can even help to pump you up for a workday.
That being said, don’t close your work wardrobe just because you don’t have to show up in the office. No matter how casual or formal it is, dress up, move to your designated workspace and get at it. Wearing the right clothes can help you get mentally prepared for conducting business, or for that important online company meeting.
Have your own workspace
Just a sentence above, we’ve mentioned a term called “designated workspace”, see? Well, that wasn’t a coincidence.
You see, we understand if you don’t have the space to create an entirely separate home office, but you can designate a room that should be only yours or at least a corner of the room while you work.
Something simple can do the trick, like a floating desk that you can set up in the morning and put away once you’ve called it quits for the day. If you have a transforming closet, it can double as a fold-away office for the time being. It’s not about the design but about the fact that you manage to create a sense of boundary between your work life and personal things.
Why? Having your own designated workplace can help you to focus more on work. When you do your job remotely, from home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by dirty dishes, laundry piles, and other chores that are there waiting for you.
In order to keep yourself focused on your job, you need a bit more isolation (no pandemic pun intended) from these issues, and it will help you with staying more productive during your actual office hours.
Set firm boundaries
If you’ve ever experienced how annoying it can be when you desperately want to focus on your work but you constantly got interrupted by your coworkers because they had questions or plainly because they were too loud, you know the office fan be a truly frustrating place.
In this respect, working from home can be a true blessing, however, only if you manage to set up your own rules and boundaries that ensure you don’t get interrupted.
Because you’re at home, your friends might drop by uninvited, or your neighbor might drop by to ask you for your help or something else, just because they know you’re not at the office, even though you’re working.
This is as though one, as it can be difficult to tell your friends and family that you still don’t like to be bothered constantly even though you are at home. Because, the truth is, you’re at you but you’re still working. The sooner you set these boundaries up the better your overall remote performance will be.
The same rules apply to coworkers as well. Just because a colleague has less to do from home than you doesn’t mean that they should be bothering you. On the other hand, if you need to deliver a team project, every team member should set these clear rules about boundaries.
Personalize your workspace
This can also prove to be a rather difficult tip, however, it doesn’t have to be. The main idea behind this is purpose. When you walk into an office, most of the time, you can ultimately tell that it’s a workspace that was made for that sole purpose. On the other hand, when you walk into a home, you will immediately know that it’s a personal space. That being said, an office can also be as warm and inviting as a home, and the latter can be as cold as some offices look like right off the bat.
Without going into philosophical depths on this topic, the reason behind an office’s design is to promote productivity. If you are going to work from home for a longer period, it might be a good idea to redesign your home office space. Incorporate the most common office designs that you can. Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable chair that enables you to work properly without experiencing any pains and aches. Make sure that your desktop/laptop is up to the task and can handle the requirements of your office work needs. Also, make sure that you’re using a proper desk or table.
Making sure that you have all these and that you have enough space to accommodate your work gear is a great start.
If you are in for the long haul and plan on working from home indefinitely, you should also consider looking into more advanced home office designs to ensure that your productivity won’t ever suffer from inadequate surroundings or work gear.
Create your own schedule and make sure you stick to it.
You often hear that people who go to bed and wake up at the same time every day don’t really have to rely on alarm clocks and overall get more rest than those people who don’t have an established sleep schedule.
When you stick to such a sleep regimen, your body prepares itself to go to bed by releasing hormones that promote better rest and that can help you wake up in the morning feeling rested and ready to tackle every challenge.
Well, these same hormones can help you to become more productive during the day. Hormones also love having routines, because they work in cycles, they need to know when to commence and seize production to work optimally.
Apart from making your body work for you, you should also need to create your own work schedule. Start each day by answering emails, then move on to checking yesterday’s work, and so on.
Create a regular work schedule and know when to hang up your cowl and cape. If you don’t have to finish a project in a hurry, don’t stay up late just to deliver it because “you can do it, you’re working from home”. This mentality might be fruitful in the short-term but it can potentially lead to burnout in the long run.
On the other hand, if you can choose your working hours freely, let your coworkers know when it’s okay to reach out to you and when you won’t be replying to letters at all. Some of us like to work during the afternoon or even at night, while others like to tackle work first thing in the morning. Try checking with your colleagues and coordinate work-related email timings as such. It doesn’t seem like much but it will definitely go a long way in improving your remote work experience.
Lastly, after setting your work schedule, try your best to stick to it continuously. The point here is to develop a routine that you can get used to and look forward to. This way, there will be no last-minute, late-night changes, phone calls, and other disturbances. Having a set work schedule can help you divide work and off time which is important since most remote workers experience difficulties when it comes to shifting out of “work” mode and start living their private lives for the rest of the day because they constantly get bombarded by work emails.
Working from home can be a productive venture, but can also pose the same difficulties (if not even more) as a classic, traditional working environment. Productivity first and foremost stems from discipline and a well-thought-out regimen that you can stick to. The main difference between working from home and the office is that the first option is way more comfortable since you don’t have to deal with the daily commute. On the other hand, it might be easier to limit distractions in a home office setting, however, that can only work if you set up a strict set of rules that ensure nobody will bother you while you’re doing your job. Oh, and you must also adhere to all the rules you’ve made to pull it off.