Coronavirus has taken the world’s stage this year, dominating headlines. Unfortunately, the way the virus is heading will mean that many people will be faced with the reality of working from home for a period of time. Though some will find this transition an easy one, some will inevitably struggle. Here at Virtalent, we are experts in remote working. To help you, we thought we would put together a few tips to ensure you remain as productive and focused as you can be, whilst also looking after your well-being.
Have you asked yourself any of the following:
- How will I remain productive?
- What can I do to stay motivated working from home?
- Will I get cabin fever?
- How will we conduct meetings?
- What can I do to ensure I don’t get distracted by household chores?
- Is there any technology that can help me while I am working from home?
Some of you will have jobs that will translate easily to a home working environment; all you need is a laptop or computer and your phone. Even so, working from home sets out a whole different set of challenges when compared to working in an office.
In an office you have colleagues around you, which in turn can motivate you, as well as allow you to take breaks when needed; getting up to make a coffee mid-morning and have a quick chat. Plus, at lunchtime, you have an enforced break, giving you a valuable reason to get up, get out of the office, get some fresh air and stretch your legs with a colleague. When working from home, these don’t come so naturally as you are working alone and have all of your usual home comforts.
At Virtalent we all work remotely, so we have gathered some of our best ideas here to help you get the most out of working from home.
Set Up A Workspace In Your Home
One of the most important things about working from home is ensuring that you have a dedicated workspace. If possible this should be a room separate to where you sleep or chill out in the evenings – preferably even a room with no TV, meaning you won’t be tempted to turn it on. If working from home will involve video calls, it is a good idea to ensure that the background is clear and clutter-free if possible.
Having a separate workspace will allow you to ‘turn on’ when you start work, then leave the space and ‘switch off’ when you are done.
Figure Out Your Best Working Environment
Do you usually work in a quiet office or one that plays music or the radio? Emulate your optimum working environment at home so you can be as productive as possible.
If music is your thing, now is your chance to really enjoy music to suit your taste, as opposed to being stuck with the same old office playlist!
Keep Regular Working Hours
This is one of the most important things you can do when working from home. Sure, if you want a lie-in, you could crawl out of bed, grab a coffee, and be sure to start work at 9am.
Or, you could make the most of not having to commute, especially if you find that you are most productive in the morning. Why not try starting work at 8am and make the most out of your day? And try to ensure you finish when you should and step away from your work at the end of the day.
Have A Routine
Having a routine does include getting dressed! Just because you are working from home, that doesn’t mean you should lounge around with your laptop in bed. Keep your ‘going-to-work’ routine the same, as if you were getting ready to go to the office. Getting up, having breakfast, taking a shower, getting dressed, or doing whatever it is you normally do before you head out to work, will all contribute to you feeling like you are ready to get started on your working day.
Make A List
Spend the last few minutes of the previous day to set out what you need to get done the following day. Make sure you keep personal and work to-do lists separate and set out times in which you will tackle them. This will mean that you have no excuse to be distracted by your household chores when you should be working.
Do Chores Before You Start Work
As mentioned above, on your personal to-do list you may need to do some household chores. Go for it – get that load of washing on or load the dishwasher before you sit down to work. But once you are ready for work, put that personal to-do list away and get started on your work to-do list.
Take Advantage Of The Situation
Yes, get dressed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some home comforts. You can enjoy your 11am tea or coffee in your favourite mug, wear slippers at your desk or even light a scented candle. Make the most of those home comforts that you miss whilst you are usually at the office. Enjoy!
Take Regular Breaks
This is something that you tend to do naturally working in an office. You get up from your desk to use the bathroom, then maybe stop in the hallway to chat with a colleague. Or you might pop into the kitchen to make a coffee and catch up on the office gossip. At home, those breaks don’t always occur as naturally, so make sure you do get up and make a coffee. Maybe sit and drink it in your kitchen or living room for 10 minutes. You could even schedule a face-to-face call with a colleague and share your break with them!
Put Away Your Phone
It can be tempting to fill the gap left by the lack of human contact with social media, so if you can put your smartphone in another room, try to do so. Alternatively, if you have a phone that use for both personal and work, then at least consider logging out of your social media accounts during work hours. Try not to endlessly scroll through the news!
Communicate with your colleagues
When you start working remotely, set up an effective way to communicate with your team. Schedule meetings or regular catch up calls with your colleagues or your boss. This will prove invaluable to you if you are working from home, allowing you to remind yourself that you are not alone!
Technology Is Your Friend
In this day and age, there are many apps and bits of software that can help you get through your working day. Take advantage of these whilst working from home. Use Slack for instant messaging to communicate with your colleagues (who also have a great blog guide for working remotely); try Zoom for face to face meetings or just a quick chat with a colleague; have a shared Google Doc for when you are conducting meetings to take notes; or try out TickTick to manage your to-do lists.
Set Boundaries With Your Home Life
Now, this doesn’t mean you should shut out everyone in the household, but it can be useful to ensure that you separate your home life from your work life. Set boundaries with your family or housemates. If you have people around at home whilst you are working, make sure that they know when you are working, so you can remain as productive as possible.
This could even involve having a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door, or some other indication that you are busy. You may have to arrange childcare too. Just because you are working from home, won’t necessarily mean you will be able to look after your children at the same time, so try and make sure you have a plan in place for this.
Enjoy Your Lunch Break To The Max
Seeing as you are working from home, how about enjoying that full lunch hour? It is something we don’t always manage to do when you are working in an office. You may get called back early to take a call or end up having an impromptu meeting with a colleague over lunch.
When you are working from home you can really make the most of your lunch break; why not try out a recipe you have been wanting to make for ages, or you could even bake something! Use your full lunch hour and reap the benefits of working from home.
Working from home may mean you find it hard to get motivated, but remember exercise is proven to de-stress and help you sleep better. It can even make you more alert and efficient in your work life. You could go out for a jog at lunchtime or before you start work. Even a short walk to the end of your street can be hugely beneficial. As long as you move your body and get some fresh air, you will instantly feel better for it. And it should curb those feelings of cabin fever!
Have Healthy Snacks And Keep Hydrated
We all know what it’s like. The office is always heaving with unhealthy snacks, biscuits and cakes. Not to mention the chocolate someone brought back from their holidays! Make the most of not having the office temptations and stock up on nuts to snack on and fruit to keep you going. And keep a jug of water by your desk to help you stay hydrated through the day. What better way to keep track of how much water you are drinking?
Do What Works For You
Not everything here will be possible, but the important thing is to do do what works for you. As long as you have the right tools for the job and the right environment you will find working remotely to be hugely beneficial. It may take a day or two to settle into a routine, but once you do, you will find working from home as productive and efficient as working in an office.
For more ideas about working from home, why not check out this useful list.