In an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19, many employees are working from home for the first time in their careers. Social distancing and self-isolation are the most sure-fire ways to stop the spread of the virus, but they have their drawbacks. For those of us who are new to working from home, you might find it harder to concentrate and stay motivated. There’s definitely an adjustment period, but you can kickstart your productivity by following these five simple tips.
Create Your Own Space
Creating your own home office is a great way to keep your work and home lives separate. Working from the comfort of your bed might sound appealing, but it is not the best solution in the long run. Not only are the ergonomics completely wrong, but it also messes with the energy of that space. Your bed is for sleeping, not for holding meetings, or banging out memos.
Consider setting up shop in a room other than the bedroom. That way you can solidly differentiate between your time spent working, and your time relaxing at home. If space is an issue, and you don’t have two separate rooms at your disposal, try working from a communal area in your place, like your kitchen table.
Make sure you have everything you need to work from home effectively. Your employer will more than likely accommodate any requests you have for technology requirements. After some nesting, you’ll be all set up for productive WFH days.
Stick to Your Routine
Working from home has many perks. You can sleep in, cook your own lunch, even work in your pajamas. However, it’s strongly encouraged that you stick to your normal routine.
Humans are creatures of habit. We crave structure and thrive in our routines. Avoid rolling straight out of bed and logging on, as tempting as that may sound.
Go through your usual morning routine as if you were coming to the office. Whatever that routine may be. Do your workout, take a shower, grab a cup of coffee, put on a cute outfit, then log on. Doing this will help you stay in the right headspace for work. The last thing you want is to turn into a work-from-home troll.
One big drawback of working from home is the somewhat overwhelming feeling of total isolation. But with modern technology, it has never been easier to stay in constant contact with your team.
Make sure to exchange each other’s phone numbers. Sometimes it’s easier to communicate larger ideas in a phone call rather than in an email. For more complex projects, use Highfive to create virtual meeting rooms. You can even create a permanent room for your team for recurring meetings.
Of course, there’s also Slack for one-on-one conversations between your teammates. Slack is one of the best messaging apps on the market. You can reply in-line to specific messages, ensuring that your conservation stays organized. You can also pin important messages to conversations and create channels for different topics. Slack even allows you to send gifs and create your own emojis to more accurately convey your emotions.
And of course, there’s a good-old-fashioned email. Just be careful not to send too many. Collect your thoughts into one email, instead of sending multiple. Or you might risk putting your teammates into inbox limbo.
Active communication is the cornerstone of a successful and productive remote team. Communicate often. Check-in with each other. And above all, make sure important messages are communicated in a written format. Or else crucial information might get lost in a game of office telephone.
Don’t Get Distracted
This tip seems obvious, but it’s definitely worth exploring. Working in a new environment comes with a certain level of distraction. Working from home, doubly so. Think about it, you have all your favorite things right there at your fingertips, how can you resist? Bingeing Netflix is great, but definitely not the most productive activity for working hours. Staying focused at home requires a new level of discipline for some, but it’s something that will come more easily with time.
On top of that, you might find it harder to stay on top of your tasks without your teammates by your side. In this case, you should try project management tools like monday.com. These tools allow your team to clearly organize tasks and drive complex projects forward. Get your to-do lists together, and feel the immense feeling of satisfaction as things get checked off.
In addition, it is really helpful to have quick conversations at the beginning of the day with your closest business partners. Take the time each morning to check in with your teammates, either by phone or on slack, and make sure you have the same game plan for the day.
Avoid Complete Isolation
Last, but certainly not least, avoid complete isolation from the rest of the world. In times like these, it’s easier said than done. It’s not hard to get sucked into your computer, and then all of a sudden you may realize that you haven’t left your house the entire day. Find moments in your day to schedule breaks. Stretch, make a yummy snack, go for a walk, while practicing social distancing of course.
The isolation working from home brings may be great for productivity and focus, but it’s terrible for creativity. That’s why this last tip is so important. You might even want to consider video chatting with a friend for lunch. That way it feels like you have coworkers again.
Working from home can lead to some of the most productive hours of your workday. Remember to create your own workspace at home, to stick to your morning routine, to actively communicate with your team, to stay focused, and to schedule breaks outside in the real world. This is a great time to strengthen your discipline and self-motivation. Above all, these next few weeks of working from home will give us an opportunity to find out exactly which meetings could actually be emails.