With Covid–19 casting a cloud of uncertainty over the foreseeable future, many of us are having to adapt to working remotely from home instead of in the office. Working from home can have many benefits; however, it takes dedication, discipline and applying smart strategies in order to keep productivity up and make it work successfully.
Everyone is different and will need to learn how best to adapt in their own way to working in a space that’s different from the usual hustle and bustle of the office. However, with the majority of Team Nitec being well experienced at working from home, we’ve come up with some of our own top tips on how to have a productive day, which we hope will help you grapple with some of the main issues you might face.
1. Create a structured routine
Setting a schedule and structuring your day, with clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day is key to successfully working from home and helps you maintain a good work–life balance. It can be easy to fall into the trap of working random, unscheduled hours when you are not in an office space, so set out your working times (when to start and when to finish) and stick to these.
2. Start your day off differently
Instead of hitting the snooze button on your alarm, try using your normal commuting time as an opportunity to shake up your morning routine slightly. When you normally arrive at the office, your routine may be to grab a cup of coffee or have a quick chat with your co–workers before settling down at your desk. So, when working from home, try something new – give yourself time to get sorted with a hot drink and a hearty, nutritious breakfast, read a book or listen to a podcast, or head outdoors for an early morning walk. Then start your day’s work at your scheduled start time.
3. Designate a specific working area
Create a space in your home to use for doing your work in. Dedicate a desk or table (or if you have it, a room such as an office) where you can get into the zone for work time, checking emails, taking calls (or joining conference calls), or communicating with your colleagues. Ensure your space suits your needs and don’t be afraid to ask your employer for additional equipment if you require it. Additionally, set some ground rules with other people living in your house who might share this space, such as flatmates, partners or family members. Just because you’re at home doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re available and those living with you should be given clear rules about what they can and cannot do or expect from you during the hours that you’ve scheduled for work.
4. Dress up and show up, even when you’re at home
While it can be tempting to spend the day working in your comfies or your pyjamas, it’s less likely to help you to get into the mindset of working and more likely to limit your work productivity. Making that change into work clothes, as if you were going into the office after all, helps your mind to make the mental shift from home to work, increasing your chances of building focus and boosting your productivity, ultimately finishing the day with a greater sense of achievement.
5. Keep in touch with your team
It can take some time to get used to working remotely and whether it’s a lack of face–to–face interaction or glitchy or slow communications software causing problems, it may sometimes feel difficult to connect to colleagues, physically and emotionally, when you’re not working together in the office. It’s important to remember, however, that everyone is in this together and sharing some of the same frustrations, so be respectful and understanding of your colleagues, and, where possible, schedule in regular opportunities to connect and catch up with your team. This will not only help to keep spirits and morale up, it’s also an opportunity to strengthen relationships while making it easier to adjust to working from home.
6. Schedule regular breaks
Working from home at any time can be a challenge, but it’s particularly important during times when you are required to self–isolate that you make time throughout the day for regular breaks from your work and your screen. Whether it’s for a cup of tea in the kitchen, a quick catch up with someone living in the house with you, a friendly call to a colleague or even standing outside for a quick hit of fresh air and Vitamin D, taking a break will help to refresh your mind and eyes and maintain your productivity. Add reminders to your calendar or use a Pomodoro timer to get away from your desk every now and again.
7. Take advantage of the perks
Think positive – the perks of working from home can be endless. Being in your house instead of at your office gives you the opportunities to chip away at a few things during the week that may not normally get tackled until the end of the day or the weekend, such as allowing you a few minutes here and there to load the dishwasher, spend more time on fitness, deal with less distractions and enjoy a lie in each morning knowing that you won’t have to do your daily commute or face the traffic that comes with it. Check out Team Nitec’s list of the pros and cons that we’ve found from working at home.
8. Look after yourself
Last but not least, it’s important to stay healthy. Lethargy can set in faster than you think and it’s easy to succumb to the idea of relaxing on your sofa and tuning into the TV rather than into work. Incorporate time into your day for stretching – before, during and after your shift – and for a brisk walk or five–minute workout break, such as yoga or stretching sessions that can be found on YouTube. Home workouts are also a good option and can be done at any time of the day via online exercise videos. Finally, use the change of scenery as an opportunity to break bad habits and start eating better, without the temptation of the office coffee and cake to distract you.
Regardless of whether you’re self–isolating or working from home at any other time, working from home doesn’t need to be a challenge – with the right strategies in place, it can be a valuable opportunity to improve your productivity while developing your skills and trying something new.