Now, more than ever, knowing how to work from home effectively is of paramount importance. All across the globe, from Beijing to London, companies are making the decision to ask their employees to partake in remote working, over concerns of COVID-19's transmission.
Whilst these companies are sending their employees home in the hope of maintaining a high level of productivity, it is unlikely that each employee will be able to concentrate as well as they would in a work environment. Working from the comfort of a familiar space may seem like a refreshing change, but there are more potential distractions.
At a time when some small to medium sized companies are facing difficulty, it is crucial that you are practising optimal working. Therefore, I have compiled a list of the most important things to remember while remote working. So, whether you are self-isolating or having a normal work-from-home day, make sure to implement these points into your daily plan.
1. Make yourself an "office" area - This is the spot where you will do your work. Make sure it's comfortable enough to complete your tasks, but not so comfortable that you'll be tempted to slack off! It is often best to make this area one that is not your bedroom or the main living room. This way, you’ll be able to trick your mind into thinking that you are not at home, which your brain naturally associates with relaxation.
2. Create a daily "to-do" list - It sounds simple, but having a visible checklist of what you have to achieve will help to prevent you from getting distracted. This way, you can monitor your progress, as well as send your achievements to your line manager at the end of each day. Indeed, sending your goals to someone else will motivate you to achieve them.
3. Try to block out large periods of time for work - Often, working from home allows you to take small breaks, such as going to get a coffee from the kitchen. However, it is hard to get things done when you're constantly being distracted, or even interrupted if you live with others. To maximise your productivity, set aside blocks of approximately 3 hours, and allow yourself 10-20 minute breaks between them.
4. Minimize distractions - If you are working from home, you are almost definitely working on a computer. It may be tempting to glance at YouTube or other social media platforms, but you will only end up procrastinating on them every few minutes. It is best to close all non-work related tabs during your "work blocks". Instead, allocate times when you can check social media, or something else like the news.
5. Try to leave the house each day - This may be difficult for those self-isolating due to COVID-19, but if you can leave your house, try to each evening. Nothing will drive you crazier than being home 24/7! A change of scenery will also help to break up the days if you are asked to work from home for a week or more.
6. Take care of yourself - Even if you are conscious of not being able to achieve your goals for the day, make sure you still take breaks to have lunch and exercise. If you are in fact ill, not doing so will only worsen your symptoms. Have a clear start time for the day (and mark this by getting dressed instead of staying in your pyjamas!), and when to stop working.
Working from home productively can be difficult to master at first. But once you've applied these points to your routine, you'll be working well in no time!
Working from home takes discipline. If you’re just starting out, it may take you a little time to find your groove, but if you follow the tips above you’ll find it a lot easier. The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself.