As many countries are facing a lockdown, thousands of in-office workers will experience the world of at-home work, as large and small businesses try to flatten the curve of COVID-19 by having their employees work remotely.
A LinkedIn study from October 2019 found that 82% of workers wished they could work from home at least part of the time. The question for many is, which environment allows us to be more productive: the home office or the office office?
With this pandemic, working from home is the only option and can make it easy for you to become your own worst enemy. Because when you're not surrounded by co-workers, no one's watching. You don't necessarily feel that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done.
That is why we will are providing 8 tips on how to efficiently work from home.
Plan out what you'll be working on ahead of time.
Spending time figuring out what you'll do today can take away from actually doing those things.
It's important to let your agenda change if you need it to, but it's equally as important to commit to an agenda that outlines every assignment before you begin.
Try solidifying your schedule the day before, making it feel more official when you wake up the next day to get started on it.
Prepare your meals the night before.
When you're in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself. Don't use precious minutes making your food the day of work -- cook it the night before.
Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat, and that you aren't performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.
Pretend like you are going into the office.
The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there's no reason that feeling should be lost when telecommuting.
When working from home, do all the things you'd do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make coffee, and wear nice clothes. Internet browsers like Google Chrome even allow you to set up multiple accounts with different toolbars on the top -- for example, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work.
When working from home, you're your manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.
Of course, you might be working from home but still have "company." Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents and spouses respect your space during work hours. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you're home.
Get started early.
When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk. At home, however, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be much more jarring.
Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up. Simply getting a project started first thing in the morning can be the key to making progress on it gradually throughout the day. Otherwise, you'll prolong breakfast and let the morning sluggishness wear away your motivation.
Stick to a schedule
One of the most wonderful things about working from home is that you get to enjoy the comfort of your home all day. It's also one of the most dangerous things about working from home.
Consider beginning and ending work at the same time each day – the way you would if you were at the office. This will help you separate professional time and personal time – and make it easier to detach both emotionally and physically at the end of the day. You can even log your day and daily tasks if that helps you.
During the day, give yourself some physical distance from your workspace by taking a lunch break – even if that means you’re sitting at your kitchen table or listening to a podcast for 30 minutes.
No matter what you do during your at-home “off time,” stay away from household chores. Truly take this time to mentally unwind.
Choose a dedicated workspace.
Don't let your dining room table become the source for stacked papers, folders - or a printer.
A dedicated workspace (ideally one you where you can close the door) is a solid way to keep work and life separate – and ensure you're not constantly reminded of your deadlines while sitting down for dinner. At the end of the day, close the door (if you can), walk away, and try not to return to your workspace until the following morning.
Just because you're not working at an office doesn't mean you can't, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch -- spaces that are associated with leisure time -- dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work.
Use technology to stay connected.
Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off the larger operation happening in the office. Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools can make it easy to check in with co-workers and remind you how your work is contributing to the big picture.
Working at home can mean overlapping with other family members’ activities and schedules. Andrey Khusid, CEO of Miro, a whiteboarding platform for team collaboration, encourages having multiple devices enabled with all of your work apps. This helps you be as flexible as possible.
“For complex and collaborative work, connect your laptop to a large monitor so you can easily navigate between tools for videoconferencing, chatting, project management and whiteboarding,” says Khusid.
“Rely on your tablet or smartphone — with their long battery life and webcam — for quick Slack responses or hours of Zoom calls as you’re on the go."
Khusid’s remote tech stack includes:
- Zoom — for videoconferencing
- Slack — for chat
- Confluence — for internal wiki
- Miro — for ideation, strategy and project planning, central project hub, presentations
- Google Suite — for spreadsheets, simple docs
Make it harder for yourself to mess around on social media.
Social media is designed to make it easy for you to open and browse quickly. At work, though, this convenience can be the detriment of your productivity.
To counteract your social networks' ease of use during work hours, remove them from your browser shortcuts and log out of every account. You might even consider working primarily in a private or if you're using Chrome, an "Incognito" browser window. This ensures you stay signed out of all your accounts and each web search you conduct doesn't autocomplete the word you're typing. It's a guarantee that you won't be tempted into taking too many social breaks during the day.
Alternatively, you can download a social media blocking tool and set “work hours.” to avoid distractions
Be adaptable and efficient
According to Paul Statham, CEO at Condeco Software, “Coronavirus is accelerating working from home, a trend that was already happening in many businesses and organizations."
“New technology has enabled companies to offer employees this flexibility and that means that even in the midst of a global crisis, businesses can carry on productively with limited impact in a secure and collaborative way. Threats to business come from many areas but those companies that are using technology to maximize their productivity already, including the ability to meet in a virtual meeting online or book desks, workspace or meeting spaces from a remote location, will find it easier to ride out disruption.”
That is why, with these tools and strategies available, we can be adaptable, flatten the curve and be effective. The way we handle working at home could change the way the office is viewed and bring the 4th Industrial Revolution, that much closer.
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