It’s possible that in recent months, you’ve found yourself in a very different working environment than the typical 9-to-5 office one you were used to. As many companies transitioned their employees to be remote workers in the age of social distancing, working schedule adjustments became necessary. If you’re new to remote working, read on for some great tips on how to work from home successfully.
In order to work remotely, you’ll want to optimize your day-to-day activities, including limiting your social media time, balancing tasks, and more.
Life Has Changed For Workers Everywhere
As many as one-third of Americans have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 That means that your three o’clock meeting may happen over virtual video conference rather than the upstairs conference room, and that afternoon cup of coffee only requires a trip to the kitchen.
However, it also means that you may find your mind wandering more than usual. Rather than conversing with coworkers, you could be perusing social media through the day, or just staring out the window at the world outside. If you find your productivity has suffered since working from home, you’re not alone, especially if you’re new to being a remote worker.
Research suggests that working from home full-time actually increases productivity and may even lead to a healthier lifestyle.2 So, it could be that your productivity isn’t the issue – it’s your routine.
Your Remote Work Schedule Is Important: Keep Productivity Up With A Set Routine
Having a routine is imperative when it comes to working from home, especially if you’re new to the goings on of a remote job. In fact, according to one study, routines not only help you stay on task, they may also help you stay calm and reduce work-related anxiety.3
Here are some great ways to implement a routine and get into work mode while working from home.
Maintain A Morning Routine
While you may not have a commute to worry about anymore, a morning routine is still imperative in helping you prepare your brain for the workday. Waking up at the same time you would if you worked in the office is a great way to start. Also, consider taking the time to dress in clothes that are similar to what you’d wear to the office.
Have A Dedicated Workspace
One challenge of being a remote worker is keeping your work life and home life separate. This is why it’s important to designate a particular spot at the kitchen table, a coffee shop (as long as it’s aligned with your local or state pandemic social distancing guidelines), or to block off part of a home office (if you have one) for your “new office.” This can help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and stay fully engaged on your work tasks.4
Take A Lunch Break And Other Regular Breaks
You’ve likely had those days where you’re too pressed for time and have no choice but to eat lunch at your desk. But just as with designating a workplace for yourself in your home, taking a lunch break may help you get a mental “break” throughout the day. Also, try to take a few scheduled breaks throughout your work day where you get up and away from your at-home desk.
Keep Clearly Defined Work Hours
Try to stick to your typical work schedule as much as possible. Not only can this help with productivity, it can also keep you from overexerting yourself and allow you to recharge. If you live with a roommate, significant other, or family members, be sure to communicate with them about your work hours. This can help you further stay on task and not get distracted by outside forces before or during working hours. It lets those closest to you know when it’s work time.
Keep Social Media From Distracting You
It’s tempting to reach for your phone or switch over to browse your favorite fashion app on your desktop. Try working in an incognito window if you can, or keep your phone on the opposite side of the room in order to ensure less distractions. Remember those designated breaks? Try to make those your social media time if you can.
How To Create The Right Home Office Environment
If you’re fortunate enough to have a designated home office, here are some great tips to creating a more conducive work space.
- Embrace as much natural light as possible. Even if you’re not a morning person, try to make opening the blinds/shutters one of the first things you do in order to set the scene for the day. Decorative lamps are also great for those later hours or rainy days.
- Add some greenery. If you’re a plant person, now’s your time to shine. And, according to science, plants might even make people happier.5 What’s not to love?
- Personalize your space. Whatever pictures or knick-knacks you had on your office desk that made it feel a little more like you, be sure to bring those same or similar touches to your home office.6
- Keep your ergonomic office items. Whether it be your chair, standing desk, mouse, or mouse pad, working from home should be just as comfortable as working in your office. Talk with your manager about taking any of these items home with you as you make the transition to remote employee.
- Make collaboration tools your new best friend. While working in the office, it was probably easy for you to just walk across the room to the person you needed something from, or for a little social interaction. Now, however, you’ll need to rely on those instant messaging apps, software suites, and video conferencing programs. Make sure you’re up to date on how to use them.
Communication Is Key: Make Sure You’re Prepared For Video Calls
Video conferencing is being embraced by many remote workers and remote teams as more employees become telecommuters. Ensuring that you’re dressed as you would be in the office is not only helpful for your mental health and home office environment, but for being ready for any anticipated (and, perhaps unanticipated) video calls.
Here are some more great tips on how to be fully prepared for any kind of virtual meeting communication:
- Close out other apps for ultimate connectivity and when it comes to sharing your screen on the conferencing tool.
- Check your internet connection.
- Pick a bright, well-lit spot and a neutral background to diminish distractions.
- Test your video and audio before joining the meeting for effective communication.
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
- Try to focus and stay on task as if you’re attending an in-person meeting.7
Becoming A Work-From-Home Success
Everyone has had to adjust in the current times. Many employees and employers have had their daily routines disrupted. If you’re new to remote work, you’ll need to adapt – and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Depending on what your home or apartment layout looks like, these work-from-home tips can be extremely beneficial when it comes to increasing your productivity and helping you feel more accomplished at the end of the day.
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