Working from home has become a new reality for many of our businesses, whether we were prepared for it or not. Even before current events, however, there was a huge push towards the adoption of remote workers and teams, with FlexJobs reporting a 159% growth in the last 12 years. And for a good reason. The same FlexJobs report indicated that 65% of remote workers reported being more productive from their home office than at headquarters. UCToday statistics support that statement with a finding that 39% of remote or home workers are more productive than their office teammates.
For those who have been working from home for some time now, they have developed key processes to help them increase and maintain their productivity. But for those of us who are finding ourselves suddenly working from home, how can we maintain our productivity in this new environment? The way we see it, there are 10 ways to help maintain your productivity in this new work environment.
10 Ways to Maintain Productivity When Working from Home
Despite the popular memes and jokes out there about how all people who work from home are doing so from their couch in their pajamas, that actually is not the case. It’s true that working from home is much more casual than an office environment: however, sitting on the couch in your pajamas can actually hurt your productivity. So, when working from home, it would be a good idea to focus on these key areas:
- Location, location, location – just like when starting a business or buying a home, you need to place significant weight on where you plan to create your home office. Do you need a quiet, removed location where you can shut yourself off from the rest of the home? Or are you more creative and focused in a more central location, like the kitchen table? Whatever you chose, there might be a few days of trial and error until you find what works the best for you.
- Remove distractions – Claim a place that is free of reminders of chores still needing to be completed. If the space that ultimately works for you, make sure the clutter is cleaned prior to beginning your work so it doesn’t keep trying to claim your attention.
- Get ready for the day – Many of the myths surrounding working from home full time are that you ultimately spend all day in your pajamas. While there may be instances where this does happen, making this a regular habit can hurt your productivity. Make it a priority to still get dressed and ready for the day as if you were still commuting to your office.
- Stay ergonomic – It may be tempting to curl up in bed or on the couch for most of the day, but this can have longer-term consequences to your health. If these are the only places you have available to spend the majority of your day, make sure you have a table nearby for papers you may need to reference or to even help you find a more ergonomic position to keep you at your best.
- Find a work buddy – Working from home doesn’t mean you need to be totally isolated. Many of us find the office chat to be an outlet to get our brains to refocus on our tasks. And still being able to collaborate can help break down any mental blocks we may have that is stopping us from completing a task. Find a buddy for you who can keep an ongoing dialog going with you and give you that office camaraderie you need, by video if at all possible.
- Take breaks – Work/life balance can be a challenge for some when working from home. It’s easy to say to yourself how it will only take you a little bit to complete the request, even if it is after your regularly scheduled hours. This can take you down a rabbit hole and soon you find yourself working through breaks. Build into your day the expectation that you will step away from your computer at predetermined times throughout the day and don’t skimp yourself on these hours. If your business policy is to allow for two 30 minute breaks, take every minute of those 30-minute breaks. Applications like TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows can lock you out of your computer for a specified amount of time and help you avoid that temptation.
- Set a schedule and keep it – Just like when you commute, you have a specific routine and cadence. Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should throw it all out. There is value to the structure and routine you have set up that can help you focus and center on the work tasks that need to be done.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate – When working from home, there is never “too much” communication. After all, when you are in your office environment, you are communicating with a large network of people in many different ways, both virtually and physically. Maintain that communication level through the various communications options available to you, such as video calls, text messaging, chat, e-mail and the plain old telephone call.
- Make an effort to get out – Vitamin D can have some very powerful effects on not only your mood but also your productivity. Be safe, but if you have an outdoor space, use it, even if it is just for 10 minutes to take some time to breathe in the fresh air and take in the sun.
- Turn the computer off – Last, but not least, turn your computer off and log off for the day. Work/life balance is crucial to maintaining your mental health. The same way you turn it off when you leave the physical office for the day, turn it off for yourself at your home office and enjoy your off-hours.
Unified Communications Solutions Help Maintain Critical Communications
Many of us are scrambling to set things in place that will help us maintain and grow our businesses with a significant change in our work environments. One tool that can help us keep communicating with our co-workers and customers even while we stick to our home base is unified communications. Video, business SMS, chat, voice (both mobile and to a desk phone or laptop) can keep you connected at the same level you were when you were at the office. Stay home and stay safe.