Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more companies are enacting work from home policies. Remote work has always had its challenges, but with more Americans working from home than ever before, the experience has gone mainstream. Even experienced remote workers may find themselves struggling to focus right now – with so much uncertainty in the world, it can be tough to maintain productivity.
Whether you’re just working from home in the short term or are transitioning to remote work for the long haul, work from home tips can help make the experience better. Ensure you’re working productively and efficiently while staying healthy with these tips for working from home effectively:
Create a Home Office
Much has been written about the delicate balance between home life and work life. That line becomes all the more blurry when you’re working from home. Designating a specific room or spot in your house for work can do wonders for your productivity. It’s one of the most basic working from home tips for success, but you’ll be surprised at how impactful a home office space can be.
Ideally, your home office would be a separate room with a door to close and a desk to work from. If you’re short on extra space, though, try finding a corner of your home that feels separate from the rest of the house. Make it as comfortable as possible and keep any necessary office supplies within easy reach. Choose an area with good natural lighting if possible. Many of us are getting less sunlight than usual right now!
Set Clear Boundaries
Designating a home office spot is just the first step to keeping your personal and professional lives separate. It’s equally as important to set clearly defined working hours with your supervisor. If you were typically in the office by eight AM and clocked out at five each afternoon, do your best to stick to similar hours. This will help you maintain a routine and eventually make the transition back to the office a little easier.
Working from home tips like this one may be easy to shrug off, but without clear boundaries, you may find yourself overworked and frustrated. By creating a routine and sticking with it, your colleagues will be easier to collaborate with and your supervisors will be more respectful of your personal time. If you live with family or roommates, these boundaries can also help keep them out of your hair during work hours!
Build in Breaks
Staying focused at work can be challenging, but at home, it can feel downright impossible. Checking things off your to-do list is tough when you’re constantly interrupted by family members, pets or household chores. When looking for how to work from home tips, you’re likely to find plenty of advice on this subject. While traditional wisdom would advise eliminating all forms of distractions, we’re going to recommend something a little different: build frequent breaks into your day.
At the office, you’re constantly taking breaks, even if you don’t realize it. Whether you’re refilling your cup of coffee or taking a walk to a different department for an errand, breaks typically happen organically. At home, it’s important to build breaks into your day. Taking five to ten minutes every hour or two just to zone out on your favorite mobile game or go for a walk around the block can do wonders for your mental health. It can also provide much needed guideposts to anchor your day around.
If you’re new to working from home, going remote can feel alien at first. It’s never easy to go from chatting all day with colleagues to being home by yourself with only your family or pets to talk to. Of all the working from home tips we’d recommend, frequent communication is perhaps the most important of all. Staying in the loop with your colleagues will help keep you on track professionally and sane at the same time.
Experiment with different forms of communication to find which best fits your lifestyle. Text based communication like email and instant messages can be helpful if you’re working with a lot of small details. Dialing a phone number or hopping on a video conference call can be especially satisfying when you’re hashing out big picture items or trying to clear up confusion about a project. Chat with your supervisors and co-workers about which platform they prefer to use and go with the flow – you’ll be surprised at how effective different communication channels can be!
Use a Virtual Receptionist
While frequent communication with coworkers can be a good thing. Too much communication in general hampers productivity. If you’re constantly being interrupted by a ringing phone during the day then you’ll want to look into using a virtual receptionist. They can also be helpful by handling your calls after normal business hours so that you can keep that time reserved for your friends and family.
A virtual receptionist service can be used by a single person or shared amongst a whole team. Remote receptionists bring a professional image to the phone experience for those calling your business. They can screen calls, route callers appropriately, schedule appointments, dish out information, and take messages for you to follow up with at your convenience. A lot of people who work from home are huge fans of this solution that improves their business, increases productivity, and enhances their work-life balance.
Limit Your News Consumption
Many people struggle with distractions when working from home. This is especially challenging when you’re trying to keep up with the ever-changing news cycle. During times of uncertainty, it’s tempting to refresh your favorite news site or scroll through Twitter every few minutes for updates. This can have a serious impact on your ability to focus, though. Right now, this is our number one working from home tip for productivity: turn off the news during your work day.
Check the news on your lunch break, if you must, but resist the urge to refresh these sites during work hours. It’s great to stay informed, but scrolling through headlines can distract anyone and give even the most even-keeled person serious anxiety. Any breaking news will still be relevant by the time you finish your shift, so do yourself a favor and limit your consumption during business hours. Don’t forget to turn off push notifications from news organizations during the work day, too!
While everybody’s preferred remote work setup might look a little different, these working from home tips are fairly universal. Try employing them this week and see how they benefit your rate of productivity!
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