8th June 2020
Remote working has become increasingly popular over the last few years, with work-life balance being a hot topic of conversation in the world of employment. Yet, despite more and more companies welcoming a work from home policy, employers and staff across the globe have found themselves facing the unexpected challenge of keeping their business afloat while working away from the office amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and productivity is in real danger of taking a hit.
I think that it’s safe to say many people dream about being able to work from the comfort of their own home from time to time. I know I used to! Not having to worry about arguing with traffic or spending a long, uncomfortable commute on a crowded train, spending extra time in bed in the morning and more time with family are just a few of the things that make remote working seem so desirable.
However, working from home is a double-edged sword, as many people have since found out. Sure, you get to take advantage of some nice little perks, but working at home can make focusing on work and maintaining productivity a lot harder. It’s so easy to get distracted by the television in the background or one load of washing that turns into a full-on deep-clean of the entire house. Whether you are just trying to get more done for your time or want to distract yourself from feeling isolated, staying productive at home takes a lot more effort.
How can I be More Productive at Home?
Below are some tips to help you stay focused that have been tried and tested by remote working veterans and workplace experts.
Establish a Routine
First and foremost, keeping to a routine is paramount. The second you begin to falter with this, you’ll find your productivity take a dive. Routines help us in several ways, including:
- Making us more efficient.
- Reducing the need to plan.
- Creating structure in our lives.
- Saving time.
- Instilling good habits.
- Breaking bad habits.
- Reducing the need for determination and willpower – it’ll be hardwired in you.
- Building momentum.
- Helping to reduce stress.
Your routine should start with the time you wake up. As tempting as it might be to delay your alarm for an hour or so, consider maintaining your usual wake-up time.
There are two stand-out reasons for this – firstly, it will give you enough time to go through the rest of your routine without rushing. Secondly, if your remote working arrangement is only temporary or on a part-time basis, waking up at the same time as you would when you go into the office will prevent you from having to re-adjust when the time comes to go back. This is especially important for those working remotely during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Start your day off right with a rejuvenating shower to wake you up and get your blood pumping, get dressed and have a nice healthy breakfast rather than jumping straight into work. It’s important to give yourself time before jumping straight into work.
It’s equally important to stick to a dedicated lunchtime. As with your wake-up time, it’s advisable to stop for lunch around the same sort of time as you would at work so as to keep your regular routine going.
Set up an Office Away from Office
The best thing about going to work is that it allows you to separate your professional life from your personal one. Unfortunately, working out of your home makes that a lot harder to achieve as you’re constantly surrounded by your family, belongings and other responsibilities such as housework and DIY.
It also means that what used to be your sanctuary – a place for you to relax and unwind without having to think about work is not a constant reminder of all the outstanding things you have to do and it can become difficult to sit back when you’re off the clock.
What that basically means is you need to get off the sofa (or out of bed!) and find a space that you can dedicate to your work – whether it be at the dining table or in a room suitable to be made into an office, make sure you have somewhere you can leave white it’s time to clock off for the day.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
On the other hand, some people find it refreshing to work at home because it means that they don’t have to put up with the distractions that can present in the office like colleagues having a chit-chat while you’re trying to meet a hard deadline.
Feeling as though you are being more productive with your time is great – that’s the whole point of this post, after all – but be mindful that a lack of social interactions (even with your co-workers) can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. In turn, this can have the opposite effect on your productivity, resulting in a lack of motivation to get anything done.
I’m not saying that you should sit on the phone to your mates all day, but don’t lose touch with the outside world or your colleagues. Keep in regular contact with your friends outside of work and hit up your work bestie from time to time to break up the day. It might even help to make the workday feel more ‘normal’.
Schedule your Day Ahead of Time
Having structure in your day is vital to productivity even before you introduce working remotely into the mix. Your time and structure throughout the day is usually influenced by other people and commitments in the office, but when working at home, it’s completely down to you to manage your time and how to use it.
Take 10 minutes each morning to review what you need to get done that day, then plan out how and when you’re going to do it. Make sure to allow for regular, short breaks to keep your mind active and always make time for lunch.
Communication is Key! Especially when your Working from Home
Part of the reason why remote working is so easy and desirable nowadays is that technology is so advanced, we have access to everything we need to be able to do our jobs wherever we are. This includes being able to stay in touch with our colleagues.
Systems such as Outlook and Slack allow us to message our workmates quickly and effectively. However, as great as it is to send instant messages to one another, it removes the personal touch of speaking to someone face-to-face. Try to utilise tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to video call colleagues when you need to speak with them and set up meetings instead of sitting on a conference call.
Not only can keeping open communication with your colleagues help you to continue working without disruption, but it also allows you to maintain relationships with your workmates, managers and direct reports.
Tailor your Working Habits
It’s really important to remember that everyone works differently. What works for one person may not work for someone else, and this is something that managers should keep in mind when asking staff to work remotely.
You may find that you are more productive early in the morning and choose to start and finish work much earlier, or else condensing your work into short bursts of work over a longer period of time might be the way forward. Ultimately, as long as you are able to complete your work to an acceptable standard and it is delivered on time, give yourself some leeway when it comes to how you conduct yourself while working remotely.
Also, make sure that you allow yourself some flexibility when measuring your productivity – if you are having to alter the way you work to manage while working from home, your likely going to see a slight change in the amount of work you produce. Just remember – as long as you get your work done to an acceptable standard and on time, there is no rush. Let yourself have an extra little break here or there if it’s needed.
Manage Remote Working with Staff Squared
If your business is one of the many affected by the coronavirus outbreak and you have had to close your office to staff, you may well have asked them to work remotely during these unprecedented times. Working from home has become somewhat of a new ‘normal’ for many people across the globe as we find ourselves navigating our way through COVID-19.
Now, more than ever, it’s so important for employers to be able to keep on top of their staff absences, be it annual leave, sickness or otherwise. We wanted to do something to help employers manage their staff a little easier during this trying time, and so we bumped forward our plans to introduce a remote working feature.
Users can now request remote working without having to rely on a custom absence type as we have added a new tab to the absence booking form in your calendar.
Admins and managers can create remote working instances for their staff easily by selecting this new option in the booking form as a one-off occurrence or a repeated event. Staff will also be able to send remote working requests to their managers following the same simple steps they are used to when requesting holiday and custom absences.
With remote working now its own calendar entry, you are able to easily recognise which of your colleagues are still available while out of the office at a quick glance, as these new bookings are highlighted in lilac to stand out from other absences.
Management will receive a notification when a remote working request is submitted and will be able to approve or reject the request, sending the staff member a confirmation email once it has been processed.
You’ll also notice a new tab on your profile, where you can manage and record remote working.
If you have any questions about how to manage remote working in Staff Squared, do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our Customer Care Team at email@example.com or on 0800 033 7569.
Read about how to stay secure while working from home here.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.