Just 29% of Americans can work from home, including one in 20 service workers and more than half of information workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, as a provider of tools that facilitate working from home, we’re in tune with the plight of the remote worker and wanted to share a few tips on being productive working from home.
Hundreds of thousands of people — maybe even millions — are battening down the hatches in their homes because of COVID-19 and working in the same place they live. There may be a paradigm shift happening in the world, spurred by this coronavirus situation. Will organizations discover hidden value in a remote workforce? When they see how many resources it takes to run a brick and mortar office, will they allow for more workers to operate from home, even after the pandemic blows over? Time will tell, but it’s the new normal — at least for now.
Maintain a Dedicated Office Space
As a first step, you need an office space that is for business only. Your work setup should be separate from your personal setup. Use different computers for both. Your company will appreciate the security of doing so. More than that though, if it’s feasible, have a home office space apart from all of the commotion of your home. If that’s not possible, at least a nook which is hallowed ground in your household as your office space.
Get Your Home Office All Set Up
Monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, printer… get everything you need set up the way you like it. If your company will help you to that end, request the equipment you need to get the job done.
Use Quality Technology to Stay Connected
You need some basic technology to stay connected to your team in a meaningful way. Your company probably has most of the pieces, but you should be using Slack or Microsoft Teams to collaborate and communicate. Use video to feel even more connected to your colleagues, partners and vendors.
For business continuity, make sure you are keeping your files and documents in the cloud and accessible on-demand. M-Files is a world leader in anytime, anywhere access to all company information, but if you don’t have a document management solution, you should keep track of where your files are and make them available anywhere you are.
Sustain Regular Hours
Make a schedule and stick to it. Know when to work and when to call it a day. One of the advantages of remote work is the flexibility and if you’re not careful you could find yourself working too much. Wrap it up when you should and make time for sleep and family.
Have a Morning Routine
Routines help us get in the groove. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a morning jog or a half hour of reflection time on the patio, make sure you establish a routine to get into the right headspace.
Sure, you could work in your underwear, but taking a shower and getting properly dressed goes a long way towards feeling energized and ready for the day.
Have a Sit-Down with the Family and Lay Out a Few Rules
Distractions are the silent killer of productivity, when working from home. Your toddler wants some attention. Your spouse may lean on you a bit more simply because of the proximity. Have a family meeting and lay some ground rules about the space you need to be productive working from home.
Allow yourself to take breaks according to your company policy. Take a lunch hour. Take a couple fifteen-minute breaks to clear your head. Walk away from the computer screen and the phone and unwind. It does wonders for your mental health.
Exercise and Stretch Periodically
Exercise gives your body a jolt of endorphins. Take one of those breaks and stretch or go for a walk. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.
Leave Home if You Can
Try to step away from your work space regularly. That goes for office workers as well. Leave the building at least once a day, if you can. The fresh air and natural light are a welcome sight. Trust me.
Discover Your High Productivity Peaks
Different people are most productive at different times of the day. Some may be morning people; some are evening people. Find out what your most productive times of day are and build your work schedule around those periods.
Update Your To-Do List Everyday
Without the proximity to colleagues and superiors who will remind you of tasks in passing, it can be challenging to keep track of your priority items, tasks and deadlines. Make it a habit to use a to-do list and update it daily.
Check in With Coworkers Frequently
Set aside the time to meet with your team and catch up. One of the biggest intangible drawbacks to working from home is feeling disconnected from the company and teammates. If you manage a team, dedicate time to meet privately with each member so they can share status updates, receive coaching, and discuss developments they need to share.
Being Productive Working from Home is the New Normal
4.3 million people in the USA work from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. That number has ballooned in recent weeks. This may be a harbinger of a paradigm shift where companies find value in a remote workforce and extend the option beyond the coronavirus situation — which is a tremendous shift. If companies can deliver the same experience to workers at home as they do at the office, they’ll realize comparable productivity and efficiency without sacrificing continuity.
And it’s not a bad shift for employees. Not only is there a work-life balance, but among those employees who make $100,000 a year or less, the average telecommuter makes approximately $4,000 more on their yearly salary than the average non-telecommuter. So, for those of you just getting accustomed to the work-from-home experience, start putting these tips into practice now to streamline your routine and increase your productivity.