Adjusting to working remotely can be just that: an adjustment.
Sure, the idea of working from home in your pajamas all day may seem appealing, but staying productive in a sea of new distractions (laundry, kids, chores … Netflix) can prove to be difficult for most. The typical routine of working at the office ensures that our “work” stays within very tangible boundaries; whereas at home, these boundaries can begin to blur and work life and home life may start to overlap, sometimes with detrimental results, including lessened productivity, waning interest and lackluster performance. According to the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being more Productive, “unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to.”
During this unprecedented time, when we’ve been ordered to shelter in place and the kids are home for the remainder of the school year, there are even more stressors at play as we adjust to a new normal — one that could affect the way we work for the foreseeable future. If you’re struggling to stay on task, we’ve compiled five tips to help improve productivity while you login from home.
1. Keep a morning routine.
In order to develop some consistency in this new work-from-home reality, it’s important to develop a solid morning routine. We suggest keeping the same schedule and routine that you would do if you were headed to the office — or at least as close to it as possible: set your alarm; take a shower; get dressed; and fix yourself breakfast. Have that morning coffee and quiet time. Mentally prepare for the day.
Working remotely while sheltering in place can also do a number on our physical health as our activity levels begin to dwindle. If you can, add exercise to your morning routine. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Log in to an online workout class. Participate in 15-20 minutes of yoga or stretching. Whatever activity you can incorporate into your daily routine that helps you move your body will ultimately have a major impact on your performance as it’s been reported that exercise can significantly improve productivity.
2. Designate a work area.
It can be hard to ignore the impulse to hit the snooze button, curl up in bed with your laptop and stay there for the rest of the work day. In fact, a recent study found that 80% of young professionals admit to working from their bed. By doing this, however, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Sitting in your bed wrapped in a cozy blanket can put yourself in the wrong mindset. After all, we associate the bed with rest and relaxation, not productivity.
It’s important to claim a workspace in your home where you can “report to work” each day. When you’re in your home workspace you’ll need to disconnect from distractions — turn off the TV, log off social media, and focus on your work tasks for the day. Designating a workstation at home allows you to maintain a clear separation of work life and home life. Plus, with the family at home together, it’s also a good visual and mental reminder that you’re working and shouldn’t be distracted during that time, allowing you to sustain important boundaries.
3. Stick to a schedule.
Committing to a schedule, just like you would in the office, is especially important at home. Start the day by making a to-do list, and then stick with it. Make sure you also allow time for breaks, including time to check-in with the family, check on the kids’ school work, step outside for some fresh air and, of course, break for lunch.
According to Real Simple, a structured routine will help your mind and body adapt to a new working environment. A great tip from HubSpot on how to stay on schedule is to segment what you’ll do and when over the course of the day. If you have an online calendar, such as Google Calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks.
4. Communicate regularly.
While there are many benefits to working remotely, one thing that most people find most difficult is maintaining communication with the team. When everyone is working from different locations, it can be easy to feel cut off from the overall conversation. Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools can make it easy to check in with coworkers and stay up-to-date on tasks and projects.
At Veugeler Design Group, we use instant messaging tool Slack for day-to-day communication and video conferencing tool Zoom for our weekly calls. Medium has a great overview of free remote work tools to help you work from home. As we mentioned in our last blog post, video calls encourage engagement and interaction and help cut down on multi-tasking since everyone can physically see each other, meaning participants are more present during the conversation.
5. Log off at the end of the day.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the biggest obstacles to efficiently managing your time while working remotely is to know when to call it a day. It’s a big part of separating work life and home life and ultimately maintaining work-life balance. According to a recent survey by Buffer, 22% of remote workers revealed that their biggest problem with working from home was knowing when to unplug.
If you typically leave the office at 5 p.m., then do the same at home. Just as how you start your day can set the tone for a productive work day, how you end the day is equally as important. Ladders has created a list of nine things the most productive “WFH” (work from home) people do 30 minutes before logging off each day, including cleaning out your inbox, checking in with your boss, and logging off at the same time every day.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the ability to work from home is a great privilege, especially in our current climate when many businesses are struggling to maintain business as usual. As we all adjust to this new normal, be sure to take care of yourself — get some sunshine, eat well, exercise, check in with family and keep tabs on your mental health. One great way to be kind to yourself is to continue to cultivate clear boundaries between home life and work life.
If you have questions about how working from home can affect your digital strategy, or if you’re interested in learning how a digital marketing firm can provide additional assistance during this time, contact Veugeler Design Group today for more information.