- Why is working from home so difficult?
- Work from home tips
- What can you do to help your workers increase their productivity?
- More productivity resources
The Coronavirus outbreak has affected us all, and this includes the way we work. Most companies have found themselves being forced to allow remote working. Changing the way your work, especially at such short notice, can be very challenging. If you’re having problems focusing at home, these work-from-home tips will help you work more efficiently and increase your productivity.
As many office workers all around the globe have found themselves forced to stay home, they also need to find new ways of adapting their jobs to the new situation. Remote working is definitely not for everyone. Especially when your new workspace is your home.
Why is working from home so difficult?
Most of us are probably having problems keeping up our usual work schedule with all these abrupt changes around us. That’s definitely the most obvious factor of them all. Truth is, the enormity of the coronavirus consequences took most of us by surprise. Most people weren’t prepared to change their work habits, even less overnight.
In some cases, people don’t even have all the resources they usually have when doing their job. Maybe it is material resources, like equipment, or human resources, like your team. Whatever the case, chances are that you don’t’ have at hand exactly every single thing you usually work with. Replacing and finding alternative options requires flexibility. And depending on each person, their work, and the resources they need, adaptation can be a very difficult process. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and unproductive when you’re forced to improvise in less favorable conditions.
Even if you’re not someone who has big loads of teamwork on a daily basis, the office environment can still contribute to your productivity. A good work environment can increase employees’ motivation. Feeling like you’re part of a team and that you’re contributing to the overall goals is a huge factor for good, efficient work. Office life helps you stay on track and focused on your job.
On the other end, home is usually the place where we feel comfortable and relaxed. It is for spending free time with our loved ones and working on our hobbies. An even if you have to bring work home every once in a while, you still know it’s an irregular situation. It’s completely normal to feel distracted when working from home, because, after all, home is where all your “distractions” from work usually are.
Work from home tips
Feeling like you can’t reach your usual productivity standards is pretty common when you start working from home. It’s even more expected when it is a sudden change. Adapting your workflow to a new space can be very challenging. This work-from-home tips will help you put some order in your new work situation and help you increase your productivity.
-Create a distinctive workspace
This one is a must. As tempting as it might be, working from bed is usually not the best idea. Our brains automatically connect “bed” with rest and relaxation. When working from bed, you will most likely become easily distracted, start doing secondary tasks, and might even doze off.
The main idea is to create a space that your brain recognizes automatically as “workspace”. You don’t need to have an office of your own to do this. But it’s vital to have a designated space for it. It can be a different room in your house, your desk, or even your dining room table. But you need to commit to it. Once in this space, it is work only. Avoid going into social media, or start checking out non-work-related things. This way, you’ll program your brain into accepting that when you’re sitting there, it is work time, and it will be way easier to stay focused.
Having a distinctive workspace should also help you avoid physical distractions. Keeping your space clean and organized is a great factor when trying to increase your productivity. You should also make sure that you have anything you might need at hand in your workspace. Getting up several times to collect things you need will probably alter your workflow. Collect all the things you use in your daily basis and keep it in your workspace. If the space you use has different uses along the day (for example, a dining room table) keep them all together in a box, a drawer, or compartment. This way, you’ll know that once you get them out, it’s work time!
–Change your clothes and prepare for the day ahead
Just like the previous point, changing your clothes is essential to get into “work mentality”. It’s very common to try to work in your pajamas. After all, who doesn’t like to be comfortable? But being too comfortable will most likely take a toll on your productivity.
Getting yourself ready can help you establish the line on “entering office time”.
You don’t need to dress exactly as you would have done when working outside, especially if your usual dress code is more on the formal side. But you can use more comfortable clothes and still be dressed for a day of work. Clothes can have a huge impact when trying to trick your brain to separate “work time” from “relaxation time”.
–Schedule your work
In order to increase your productivity when working from home, it’s essential to make a schedule. This is probably the most common work-from-home tips, but it’s because it’s true! Starting your day with a concrete idea of what you should work on that day can do wonders for increasing your productivity.
Have you ever felt that the more time you have for a task, the more you delay it and the longer it takes? This is actually pretty common. It’s called the Parkinson’s law. It began as a bureaucratic term that referred to the idea of losing time unnecessarily in bureaucratic and government contexts. But since it first appeared, studies have also shown its relation to the common “dallying” in tasks where you have more time than needed.
This is a very common situation when working from home. After all, you’re in your home, so you will “have time later”. And before you realize it, the day is over and you have done almost no progress. Setting yourself concrete goals and deadlines (even if your job doesn’t require them) will help you fight Parkinson’s law. Set a concrete time where you must be off your desk, so you don’t assume you have infinite time for your tasks.
You can also begin your day listing your daily tasks and prioritizing them. This way, you’ll know you can’t finish your workday without completing specific tasks. Online resources like Todoist, for example, give you a lot of options for setting daily tasks. Or, you can always use the classic pen and paper, whatever works best for you. The most important thing is that spending 10, 20, or even 30 minutes every morning is worth it if it’s going to help you increase your productivity during the rest of the day.
-Know your own limitations and your preferences
While these work-from-home tips might work for most people, it’s important to take into consideration your personal preferences too. A too-rigid schedule might feel too overwhelming for some. You might find your work better if you alternate between working time and relaxation time, rather than following a strict office 9-to-5 timetable. Or you might find that you work better in the late night and that you prefer to sleep in.
There’s no one easy fit for everyone. These work-from-home tips are a good starting point for improvement, but it’s also important to know yourself and what works for you. It can feel like a slow a trial-and-error process, but it’s worth it if it means that you’ll be able to increase your productivity and feel better with yourself and the work you do.
You should also know your own limitations. It’s vital to be honest with yourself when preparing your workspace and trying to avoid distractions. Can you work with music, for example? Is your phone too much of a temptation? Do your family’s interruptions alter your workflow? It’s important to recognize what distractions affect you so you can find effective solutions.
You can talk to your family to establish norms, like “no interruptions when the door is closed”. If you don’t need your phone for work and you know it distracts you, you can leave it in another room. If you don’t need it all the time, you can turn off your wifi signal if your internet connection is too much of a temptation. If you can’t turn it off, apps like StayFocusd are a great option for allowing only certain websites in determined hours. It all depends on you recognizing your own needs to banish distractions effectively.
-Take care of your mental health
These can be very stressful times. After all, uncertainty and sudden changes are always a challenge. That’s why it’s extra important to take care of yourself when working from home. Allow yourself time for relaxation at the end of the day. Even if you want to increase your productivity, you’re only a human, not a robot, and beaks are also needed in between work. Be realistic about how much rest time you really need. It may be easy to say “just 5 minutes” but if you’re going be unable to focus afterward, a longer break would be much better.
Make sure to have enough sleep. Whether you decide you work in the usual 9-to-5, or make your own schedule, feeling rested is vital for being able to focus the next day.
What can you do to help your workers increase their productivity?
If you’re a team manager or are high in the business’ hierarchy, it is also important to consider what you can do to help your employees face these challenging times. Here are some tips on how to help your employees work from home and increase your team’s productivity.
–Patience and understanding.
If the transition into working from home has been a sudden change, you must assume that the adaptation process might be a slow one. Chances are, productivity will definitely not stay the same, especially at the beginning. Support your team and remember it’s a trial-and-error process until you can all find what works the best.
-Focus on communication.
Distance can take a huge toll on your business productivity. For making a business work in such conditions, communication must be your cornerstone. Making sure everyone if one the same page concerning tasks, responsibilities, and due dates is vital to keep the company running. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them. Establish catch-up meetings so all the team knows how the projects are progressing. Listen to your workers’ concerns. This way, you can all face together the challenges of working from home and find better solutions to any obstacle.
–Plan ahead for the future. Keeping working in improving the communication channels and increasing your productivity. Showing your team that this is not going to last forever and making plans for how to return to normality can also be great for boosting the spirits up. Don’t forget that feeling part of a team and having recognition is a huge factor for improving productivity.
More productivity resources
Luckily, nowadays there are a hundred different resources we can use that weren’t available years ago. The internet alone is a huge advantage, that allows us to remain communicated and make distance working way smoother. If you liked these work-from-home tips, you might also like these resources for staying more focused at work.