Management & Leadership

Remote working tips: how to be productive from home

Mar 24, 2020 | By Laura Wilson

Working from home has benefits and drawbacks. Here are some remote working tips that will help you be as productive from home as at an office.

Key takeaways

  • The Age of Technology makes working from home as productive, if not more so, than working in an office
  • It’s important to plan out your workday, and have a dedicated workspace, so as to recreate the routine and focus of an office
  • Don’t rely solely on emails; use communication tools such as Slack and Instant Messenger to stay in touch with colleagues

Whether you’re a freelancer, an employee at a company that offers flexible work hours, or just cooped up at home for whatever reason; working remotely has its benefits and drawbacks. Your work hours are more flexible, but you lack the discipline and familiar routine of an office environment.

Tips for working from home effectively

With the coronavirus lockdown in effect, many offices are shutting down, and allowing their employees to work from home. Some of these employees may already have experienced working remotely, while for others, it’s a new and unfamiliar challenge.

Thankfully, the Age of Technology makes working from home more viable, and it may be that workplaces of the future will incorporate remote work in a significant way.

In fact, statistics show that employees are more likely to remain loyal to companies that offer a flexible work program. A survey conducted by Harris / Decima found that 81% of respondents believe it positively differentiates one company from another, while 87% said they are just as productive, if not more so when working from home.

“Work from home” advice from those who have done so themselves includes:

Have a schedule

The thing you’ll probably miss the most while working remotely is the routine. Get in, make coffee, sit down at a desk and get through your list of things to do.

Well, nothing says you can’t create a similar schedule for yourself at home. Your work-from-home schedule should include:

  • Waking up at the same time every day
  • Setting aside time for coffee breaks and a lunch break
  • Getting some light exercise every now and then, such as going for a brisk walk (as a substitute for the morning commute and the bustle of the office space)
  • Time management is important, even when working from home, so set an estimated time frame for each task you have to complete, such as checking emails or conducting meetings over Skype
  • Figure out the time of day when you are most productive, whether it be morning or evening, and build your schedule around that

Have a dedicated workspace

Some people are fine with working from their bed or on the sofa, but for the majority of remote workers, that’s counter-productive. You need a dedicated workspace, preferably one with a desk or table. Not only is it better for your posture, but it also improves your focus.

You don’t need to have a dedicated office, although obviously having one helps. If you have kids or other family members wandering around, they should know that you’re not to be disturbed when you’re in your workspace, wherever it may be.

Wear shoes

Working in your pyjamas and slippers may be tempting, but contrary to the popular image of the work-from-home experience, it’s not good for your productivity. You don’t necessarily have to dress as if you were going to work, but putting on some clothes will help your mind get into work mode.

In his article for Forbes, Dan Pontefract, founder of The Pontefract Group, recommends that you at least wear shoes, as wearing slippers, socks or going barefoot puts you in a relaxed mindset that is not conducive to getting things done.

Stay connected

Social isolation isn’t good for the mind, and there’s no shortage of technologies and applications that enable you to avoid it.

  • Don’t just rely on emails. Use applications like Slack and Instant Messenger to keep in touch with workmates
  • Have a friend who you can regularly communicate with online, emulating the “water cooler conversations” of the workspace
  • Declare your availability, or lack of it, to workmates, so they know when you can be reached

While online communication may seem like a potential distraction, it’s worth it to avoid the psychological ramifications of perpetual social isolation.

Normally, working from coffee shops allows you to escape the solitude of the work-from-home environment, but that’s become a less viable option in recent times. So taking advantage of what the Age of Technology has to offer us becomes even more essential during the coronavirus lockdown.

Make space for inevitable distractions

There are certain distractions you’re going to find difficult to prevent. For example, if you have young kids, there’s a good chance of them interrupting your workspace and popping in during conference calls. This is especially an issue during the coronavirus lockdown, as kids need to expend the excess energy they would otherwise have been using at school.

Other potential distractions include:

  • The doorbell
  • Telephone
  • Social media
  • The TV
  • Pets
  • Laundry
  • Chores

Do what you can about distractions you can control, such as social media. As for those you can’t control, either incorporate them into your work schedule or try to accept them and minimise their disruption to your workflow.

Improving productivity with professional coaching

If you’re interested in learning more about workspace psychology, whether it be at home or in an office environment, consider studying a coaching course at SACAP. Here you’ll learn how to help clients achieve many of the things discussed above, such as time management and goal-setting. For more information, enquire now.

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