These uncertain times with the COVID-19 global pandemic have created a ‘new normal’ for many people regarding their work situations. Out of necessity, many are having to work from home for the first time in their career. To help with this, here are a few insights to working from home, being productive, and feeling connected:
- Keep a regular schedule. When working from home for an extended period of time, there will be the temptation to work at different hours. Maybe you will find yourself lingering over breakfast a little longer than usual, perhaps you will take a long break in the afternoon thinking “I can get this done later tonight.” To be your most productive, try to treat your day like your regular professional work day. Maintain a morning routine. Define your starting time. Get up, go through your regular grooming habits, get dressed and ‘arrive’ at your work station like you are going into the office.
- Have clear goals. Aside from being just generally good daily work practice—whether at home or in an office—identifying what needs to be done during your day will help keep you on task. If you have a plan around how to complete your highest priority tasks, even if you are interrupted at different points during your day, it is likely that by the end of your day you will have accomplished most what you intended.
- Define your work space. Not everyone has a true home office, an entire room dedicated to work. Nevertheless, try to have a defined, regular space where you do your work everyday. Even if it is the dining room table, set it up with all of your work essentials such as a notepad, your phone, a headset and your laptop. Try to make it as ergonomically friendly as possible. Have your laptop, keyboard and mouse at a comfortable level. Use a comfortable chair where you can sit for prolonged periods of time without aches and pains. If you have the resources and space, investing in a comfortable office will enable you to work longer and stay productive.
- Stay connected. When working at home, it is easy to feel completely isolated from your colleagues. Try to make time to connect with your co-workers, especially your team. Set some time aside for virtual or online meetings. Talk through ideas, get support, brainstorm to overcome certain challenges or work through exciting ideas. It is also good to make use of the various digital tools to keep the conversation going with your team. Google+ Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and so on (there are many others) are tools that can keep you connected and keep you productive.
- Clear communication signals with family members and friends. Working at home can often mean frequent interruptions from family and friends. Be clear about your working hours. Post them on your door and stick to them. If you have a partner and/or children, make sure they know that you are at work and what your hours are. If there are moments where you absolutely cannot be interrupted (say, an online presentation), create a ‘Do not Disturb’ sign or a ‘Red Light’ to signal the importance of your time.
These are just a few tips to help you stay productive and feel connected to the important elements of your work. Of course, the nice thing about working from home is there is a level of comfort that you will have that is just not present in the office setting. As you work from home more often, you will find your rhythm.