For many of us, working remotely is the new normal. Experts predict that video conferencing and mobile work tools will remain popular, even after we return to work, and many companies are making a push towards a fully remote workforce.
While more time at home can be appealing – less time commuting, more time with family – it also comes with distractions. Especially with the added challenges of juggling homeschooling, housework, and the “new coworkers” you find yourself sharing your space with. Setting up a distraction-free work zone can make all the difference when it comes to keeping up your performance.
Whether you’re just working remotely for now, or you’re in it for the long haul, here are five tips to stay productive at home.
1. Think about workplace ergonomics.
A recent study showed that millions of workers are suddenly working from home without an ergonomically sound home office. Sitting on the couch or working from bed can lead to neck and back strain, headaches, and an all around uncomfortable experience that will make you dread the hours you’re spending logged in. To combat this, try moving to different areas in your home every few hours, setting up a standing desk, and taking mini exercise breaks. Small changes like this can make a big difference.
2. Find your routine.
When you commute to an office you wake up earlier, get ready for your day, then hit the road. For some, working from home means transitioning right from bed to a laptop, and without giving yourself that time to mentally adjust, it will take longer until you feel truly present at work. Try sticking to the same sleep schedule you had before, and use the time you’d spend commuting to clear your head, eat well, and set yourself up for success. Meditation apps like Headspace can be a great morning ritual, and they’re currently offering free membership for teachers, healthcare workers, and anyone on unemployment. Then, during your work day, remember to take full, structured meal breaks!
3. Explore new ways to stay in touch.
If you’re like most, you’re starting to miss the ease of turning to a coworker to ask a question, or being able to discuss things in person. While email may be your go-to at home, try exploring more direct forms of digital communication – if your office isn’t set up with instant messaging, that’s a great place to start. Getting in touch with someone in real time can help your team stay connected and engaged. Phone calls, video conferencing and other communication softwares are great ways to remind your coworkers that you’re there for each other. Our post on building a remote work culture expands on this!
4. Make physical or online to-do lists.
To-do lists are making a comeback, and writing things out is a great way to stay motivated. At the beginning of every week, write down your main priorities and what you’d like to accomplish. When you do inevitably get distracted, you can return to your list, see where you left off, and get right back on track; and who doesn’t love that instant feeling of accomplishment when you cross something off? Try breaking your lists down by day and by week, so tasks feel more manageable and you can easily track your progress. Plus, your supervisors will be impressed when you send over regular recaps of what you’ve completed each week.
5. Ask for what you need.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that while working remotely can feel isolating, you’re not alone. Your employer is on your side, and they want you to have the tools you need to succeed. If you’re feeling like you don’t have enough projects to fill your time, or you’re having trouble prioritizing in this new environment, reach out to your support system and brainstorm ways to stay efficient. You don’t have to do this on your own, and your employer will appreciate that you’re willing to help out where needed.
As our workplace adapts, so do we. If working from home has been a challenge so far, talk to your supervisors and see how your team can make it work. In times like these we have to stay creative, flexible, and open. Remember – we’re all in this together!