After a few weeks of having worked remotely, cabin fever might break out as many employees start to feel worn down by daily routines and the lack of human contact. We explain how you can be more productive while working from home and how to help your team stay sane and engaged in crazy times.
Many would see working from home as the Holy Grail. Waking up late, sitting in your pyjamas all day in front of the laptop on the sofa, munching chips and watching a few funny videos on YouTube seem like a big win. After all, who cares if you hand in that presentation a few days late, right?
At home, employees face all sorts of distractions and many people don’t know how to separate work from their personal life, and it all starts to blur. Just quickly doing the dishes and a bit of washing can turn into a full day of household chores, while your boss's deadline still looms at the end of the day.
However, many surveys suggest that working from home doesn’t go hand in hand with productivity loss. In May 2020, a well-known research firm, Valoir, discovered that working at home indeed is going well. They observed a mere 1% drop in productivity. A large number of employees are so worried about appearing lazy that they work harder and put in longer hours. They take fewer breaks, thinking they need to contribute more than their office-based colleagues.
How to be productive working from home
So how to find the right balance and be productive while working remotely? We’ve put together the best remote work productivity hacks so that it becomes a much easier and more natural way of working. As an HR manager, make sure you share these work from home productivity hacks with your employees and be available for any questions.
Also, remind managers to stay in touch with their team and reward them for their good work every day and at the end of week. Ultimately, people go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.
Likewise, provide a secure channel for employee feedback, making sure you are the go-to person, even when working remotely, as communication is key.
1. Have a designated workspace
We can’t stress enough how important it is to have your own space when working remotely. Having your own desk in a quiet area of your house or flat is vital for concentration and separating your work and personal life.
2. Avoid working from bed or sofa
Similarly, make an effort to get up in the morning. Laying in bed all day might be fun in the first few days of remote work, but you’ll soon lose your work routine and possibly fall into a downward spiral of back pain and motivational problems.
3. Set clear working hours
Make sure that people living in your house don’t interrupt you. Set clear guidelines on what times you are working, preferably in your designated work area. Stick to your working hours and notify your team as well as the family and friends you live with. That way, you set clear boundaries on your schedule and make sure you stick to them most of the time.
4.Create a Morning Routine
Everyone has different morning routines, but having one is useful for getting into the flow and setting the tone for the rest of the day.
5. Basic task management
Self-motivation can be a big problem while working remotely. After all, your team isn’t in the same physical space to support each other. So, it’s more important to set your plans for the day ahead and execute them. Start every day by prioritising the most important task on your to-do list. It’s a great feeling to be able to tick them off and see what you have actually accomplished.
6. Hardest things first
A great way to reach your goals is to always start with the most challenges tasks first. That way, you won’t procrastinate, and all other tasks will seem like a piece of cake after finishing the big one first.
7. Follow fixed routines
According to a Buffer remote working report, over 40% of employees say a flexible schedule is the best part of working remotely. However, not preparing yourself for what to expect during the day sets up for chaos. Work towards achieving the goals you initially set out and organise your tasks.
8. Follow the block principle
Working in adaptable and manageable blocks means working in a dedicated slot of up to two hours. Once this slot is over, get up and distract yourself to clear your head. Breaking your day into easily manageable chunks helps to improve your remote work productivity enormously.
9. Leave your phone on silent mode
As in any office scenario, checking your phone a million times during the day is a sure way to break your concentration. Switch it off, leab¡ve it in another room or use apps that lock your phone and stop you using it for a few hours a day.
10. Use apps to control social media
The biggest distraction from working at home is social media. Turn off any alerts, or even better, start using apps to control your social media engagement. Apps such as Space or Offtime allow you to set daily limits for yourself and restrict access to any apps you find distracting.
11. Take breaks
Sitting at home all day can be incredibly frustrating. There is no real physical disconnection between work and private life. Remote workers often don’t take more than ten steps a day from the bathroom to the office. Avoid this at all costs! Take a one-hour lunch break every day, just like you would do in the office. Use it to the max to break off the routines, go to the city centre to eat or to go shopping.
12. The importance of unplugging
Without time to disconnect and unplug, remote workers risk burning out just as much as office-based employees. Hence, be sure to switch off all your devices once you finish your day and set clear boundaries between work and home life. Don’t feel pressured to be online when you should be off.
Image by AndiP, Pixabay
13. Exercise regularly
Alternating between stress and relaxation is extremely important to stay productive. Try to take a short break after every 45 minutes of intense work. You could go out on the balcony for a short coffee break, stretch or go for a walk.
14. Eat healthily
Everyone knows this mantra. When working remotely, healthy eating is more important than ever. Otherwise, the extra weight will start piling on due to the sedentary lifestyle. And how else will you fight the afternoon fatigue after greasy and heavy meals at lunchtime?
15. Virtual coffee meetings
Without short chats in the kitchen important interpersonal aspects are disappearing, leaving many employees feeling isolated and lonely. Try to offset this by meeting for a virtual coffee where everyone gets a cup of coffee or tea and chats about non-work related stuff. The human factor is huge in maintaining remote employees’ engagement and motivation. Also, use messaging apps like Slack to stay in touch with your workmates.
16. Co-working spaces
So this one is actually for people that work far away from their actual office: Isolating yourself from everyone during the day can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, which could make you less productive in the long run. Working from a shared office or co-working space helps employees to interact with people who are also there to get work done.
17. Mental separation of work and life
Working from home often means that employees can’t easily switch off from work at the end of the day. After all, their desk reminds them of unfinished work while eating their dinner at home. To guarantee your mental rest, read through your priority list of the day and remind yourself of all the tasks you have achieved. .Write any pending tasks down on your to-do-list for the next day. That way, you’ll be able to let go of the day before going to bed.
If in doubt during communication with colleagues, always try to call instead of messaging if you have to communicate with your colleagues. The best way to communicate is through verbal communication. Share your screen, that way the person on the receiving end knows exactly what you’re talking about and you save a lot of time and nerves by not emailing back and forth.
Working from home productivity
Working from home takes discipline and some time to get used to. Don’t be too hard on yourself and your employees, and establish healthy boundaries. Don’t do the disappearing act and stay in touch with your team, especially in terms of offering constant feedback.
Also, be sure to send your employees these tips on how to be productive while working from home, so everyone is on the same page and can get used to different working routines. You can see our remote work guide that we have developed from Kenjo.