At the time of writing, Mother Nature has thrown us a hand grenade in the form of COVID-19. So it’s a possibility that more of us may need to hunker down and work from home for a time. Some of us may be more used to this than others, but hopefully, these tips might help us get the most out of it.
Set a Routine & Structure
Without the usual commute, coffee breaks, lunch and face-to-face meetings the workplace environment brings, it can be easy to let the day slip by and dissolve from work into home life with no clear delineation between either. This can lead to decision fatigue, procrastination or burnout. The advice is to time block your day. Have a definitive start and end (e.g. start at 9, finish at 5). Use your calendar to schedule daily tasks, meetings and breaks throughout the day.
Mock the Commute
Instead of rocking your daily commute, you could mock your commute. Get up, put on your coat and leave the house. Walk or jog for 10-15 minutes or even just around the block. The fresh air and walk will get your blood flowing and help wake you up. When you walk back in your front door, you’ll be primed and in business mode!
Where possible, set up a dedicated space for your laptop/computer. Ideally this should be a desk away from your kitchen or living room, as you want to avoid blurring the lines between work and home life. The lure of Netflix or your favorite DVDs may be enough to distract you if you work in the living room. A dedicated workspace will help get you focus and get in the zone for work.
Add Some Plants
According to a Wired article, “Plants can add more to an office than a decorative touch - psychologists have found that, as well as oxygenating the air, bringing some flora into the workplace can improve employee satisfaction and can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.” So if you can, surround yourself with plants!*Note to self, get more plants.
Eat Proper Meals
Fuel the mind with balanced meals. When in the office, you might normally go out or bring a lunch. Do the same at home. Don’t eat that bag of chips, no matter how tempting!
Prevent Cabin Fever – Get Out of the House
Get out of the house at least once a day. If you don’t opt for mocking the commute, then get out for some air at lunch time, or in the evening before switching off and into home mode.
Have Headphones at the Ready
If you live with others or have family around in the same house, it’s a good idea to have a good set of headphones and your favorite tunes at the ready to block out distractions. I find some of the focus soundtracks on Spotify help me focus and get into the flow. I’ve seen other services referenced by others, such as Focus@Will, Brain.fm or apps like Noiz.io if you prefer natural sounds to music. Not into listening to music? Earplugs could be an alternative to consider.
Keep in Touch
Working from home can become quite isolating if you don’t connect with someone else on a regular basis. Make sure to keep in touch with your colleagues. When in the office it can be easy to just drop by someone’s desk for a quick catch up, when at home it can be just as easy to forget. Communication is key for remote distributed teams to be successful and productive. Let your colleagues know what you are working on, progress or issues you encounter. Or just check in on a colleague for a chat!
These are just a few things I’ve found that could help, and that I continue to try out to find the optimum routine. We’re fortunate that the industry we are in and the technology we use affords us the chance to work together remotely. We can view this as an opportunity to test remote working practices. For those of us who don’t often work from home, we’ll have newfound empathy for the challenges faced by colleagues who do so, and no doubt we can come up with solutions to improve how we connect,
communicate and collaborate effectively from afar.
Some things to consider as we adjust to life in the home office...
- What can we learn about remote working practices?
- How will what we learn help or improve how we work with colleagues across regions?
- Do we need to be more intentional about how we communicate and when?
- How can we maintain our culture, remotely?
Please share if you have any more tips on working remotely.
Further Reading Resources
- Coronavirus Is a Preview of Our Self-Isolating Future (Medium)
- Working from Home? 7 Smart Tips (Fast Company)
- Why Did it Take a Pandemic to Sell an Obviously Good Idea? (Irish Times)
- Why the Future of Work is Flexible (Irish Times)
- 6 Rules To Live By When You Work In An Office But Have Remote Team Members (Trello)
- 12 steps to Eliminating Remote Work Distractions (Invision)
- Office Plants Boost Productivity