The Coronavirus outbreak has meant that companies around the world have rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies for their employees, in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19. Discover some of the top tips for working effectively from home, from time management techniques to optimising your work environment.
Work-life balance is an increasing priority for many employees, especially for millennial workers, and flexible working options such as working from home are more popular than ever. Working from home allows you to recoup the hours that would otherwise be spent commuting, as well as saving money on travel and childcare costs, and avoiding the stress of a hectic commute. When done effectively, working from home should allow more time for rest, focus, and managing your workload, along with extra room for family and personal commitments.
Millions of UK employees work from home at least part of the time, and the numbers have increased over the past few years. Working from home can bring its own challenges, however - although being out of the office can promise fewer interruptions from colleagues, partners, children and pets can also make it a challenge to stay focused and to manage your time effectively. Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles of remote work and boost your productivity levels.
Stick to a routine.
Routine is productivity's best friend. Following a routine provides structure to your working day, which is especially important when you’re surrounded by the inevitable distractions at home. To stay focused and productive while working from home, make sure you approach each day as you would if you were heading into the office. Get out of bed at a similar time, drink your morning coffee; even dressing in your usual workwear can help get you in the right frame of mind. Sticking to your typical working routine will prepare you for the day, providing a clear distinction between home and work time.
Practice the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management system that encourages people to break their workday into 25-minute chunks called Pomodoros, which are separated by short breaks of usually five minutes. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes.
This technique is intended to provide structure and to help with prioritisation and time management. When you have a whole day to finish the task, you're more likely to be distracted, but if you know that you have only 25 minutes for it you'll push more urgently to complete it and focus on the task at hand. A break then enables you to unwind and re-energise, so that you can move onto the next task with fresh focus.
Make (and stick to) to-do lists.
To-do lists are a fantastic way to keep organised and productive while working from home. Similarly to following your regular routine as closely as possible, to-do lists provide structure to your day, along with clarity on the tasks which need to be completed. Checking off each task on your to-do list once you have completed it is a simple way of tracking your progress and helps to keep you motivated - it can also relieve anxiety about your workload as you’ll be able to chart your achievements. Create a new to-do list for each day, carrying across anything you didn’t get to the day before, and making those tasks your first priorities for the day ahead.
Make your workstation green.
Research from the University of Melbourne suggests that gazing at nature can boost our concentration levels and productivity. The research found taking ‘green microbreaks’ - from taking time to look out at nature through the window, to having a walk outside or even watching a scenic screensaver, can make a difference. Try adding plants to your work area or simply re-positioning your desk so that you face the window.
Stay connected with your team.
Although many will agree that working alongside a chatty colleague is ultimately a productivity killer, keeping some level of social interaction while working from home can help you avoid feelings of boredom and isolation, especially if you’re used to a dynamic office environment with lots going on. Regular communication with colleagues when working from home is good for mental well-being and keeps team bonds strong as well as ensuring you’re not missing out on important updates. Many employers have communication platforms in place which can also be accessed remotely, keeping you in the loop when you’re working remotely.
Optimise your work station.
It can be tempting to work from your sofa, with the TV on - but unsurprisingly, this can seriously affect your attention levels and productivity. It’s much better to have a clearly defined work space, ideally with a desk, good natural light, and a proper office chair to keep you comfortable. If you don’t have the luxury of a home office, it’s still important to try and keep an area dedicated for work so that you can maintain a distinction between work and home time. Having a separate work space is also a good cue for children - they’ll be able to more easily tell when you’re working and need to concentrate.
No matter where you and your employees are working, our expert consultants are here to support you. Contact our team today.