Whether you’re a work-from-home veteran or a remote work rookie, it’s never too late for some good advice. With record numbers of employees shifting to remote work in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus, here are some top tips on telecommuting that will help you stay productive wherever you may be.
1. Stick To Your Schedule
You know the drill: set your alarm clock, brush your teeth, wash your face, get dressed, and grab a cup of coffee. As far as you’re concerned, you’re still going in to work – just without the commute. Simply maintaining your routine can be a powerful technique for putting you in the right mindset. Logging on in your pajamas at the last second will set the stage for the rest of the day, and potentially hinder productivity when your brain struggles to make the switch to business time.
2. Set Real Work Hours For Structure
It can be tough to be your own manager, but someone has to do it. Stay on schedule with an outline of your day; what you want to do, and when you plan to do it. Consider setting reminders or even personal events to keep yourself on task and avoid distraction. Look to your in-office schedule as a guide – if you normally work nine to five, for example, stick with that time frame and respect your limits. When the day is over, it’s over, and you can begin the process of winding down.
3. Create A Dedicated Office Space
When you go into the office, there’s usually a specific desk or workstation you consider ‘yours’. At home, it’s no different. Leave your bed or couch and designate a private, quiet work space that you “commute” to daily, with comfortable, ergonomically-sound furniture and all the equipment you need to get down to business. Separating the spaces you normally associate with ‘leisure time’ versus ‘work time’ can do wonders for your state of mind.
4. Make Time For Breaks
Research has shown time and again that taking short breaks helps productivity, not hinders it. You’re not a robot – and taking a quick brain-break to grab a drink, do some stretches, or take a walk will do a world of good for your mental health. Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you’ve automatically achieved a meaningful work/life balance – you still deserve a few moments of time to yourself throughout the day. And don’t forget to give yourself a lunch break! Just keep it reasonable. As long as you don’t disappear for hours, you’re well within your rights.
5. Set Expectations With Family and Friends (and Pets!)
Chances are, you aren’t the only one working (or schooling) from home right now. Set boundaries with your housemates – be they spouses, friends, children, or even pets – on when you will be working, and when you will be available. It’s easy for someone to interrupt your work without knowing any better, and it’s your job to let them know when you’re busy. Consider all distractions ahead of time, such as deliveries, phone calls, or incessant barking (or meowing, tweeting, or otherwise), and proactively consider how you can avoid or at least minimize the effects these could have on your productivity.
6. Keep Up The Communication
Remote work provides many advantages, but there is something to be said for face-to-face interaction. At home, you can’t turn to your coworker to ask a quick question, or catch someone walking by to confirm a meeting. To make it work, meaningful collaboration requires real effort from everyone. Email, text messaging, and chat are the obvious modes of communication, but consider the real-time benefits of phone calls and video conferencing as well. Tone, body language, and facial expression are all key factors in getting information across effectively, and any way you can incorporate these natural, nonverbal gestures into your workday can positively impact your performance.
7. Keep In Touch With Your Work Friends
It can be isolating to suddenly find yourself working alone when you’ve grown used to the small talk, jokes, and physical presence of your coworkers. Check in on your work friends with a quick message, or phone call – you could even “grab lunch” together over video chat. Maintaining these relationships is more important than ever in these times of social distancing and quarantining.
8. Own Responsibility For Your Work
Same as any other day in the office – sometimes things get in the way of your work, and tasks inevitably begin sliding off schedule. Your first line of defense should be an organization-wide system flexible enough to provide real-time visibility and control over critical metrics around projects, time, resources, costs, billing, and more, to keep everyone on the same page. However, if you still find yourself unable to complete a task for any reason, it’s up to you to be transparent about it. Inform your supervisor or team right away, as it could affect their work timelines as well. Your team may also be also to help you if they know you’re having problems.
Telecommuting, remote work, e-commuting – whatever you call it, working from home is a major lifestyle change no matter how you slice it. It can be lonely, frustrating, stressful, and tough to stay motivated if you don’t give yourself time to get used to it. At the same time, many have found that it can transform your entire approach to work for the better. Take it one day at a time, and use these tips to make working from home work for you.
Looking for more ways to enable your work-from-home experience? Attend our upcoming webinar to empower your remote project time tracking: