Top Ways To Stay Productive While Working From Home
Posted by nbsweb Last updated 29th October 2020 reading time
Have ongoing global health situations changed the way you work?
Fortune Magazine reports that a Gallup poll instituted in March of this year discovered that only 31% of American workers had ever worked from home.
This number may already seem very high at first glance. But by the time the poll was repeated in April, only one month later, that number had doubled to 62%.
This rather surprising finding represented not only a big shift in practice, but in attitudes about work as well. Clearly, many employees must have reckoned that a work-from-home job was preferable to no job at all, for starters.
If it was at all possible to work remotely, businesses and employees generally sorted it out one way or another.
A large influx of workers, many inexperienced with work-from-home routines, flooded into the virtual workspace. This meant that changes needed to happen.
Keeping In Good Communication With Each Other
Have you ever seen a coworker who just looked like they needed a little extra help? Perhaps they’re tired, or stressed. Perhaps their phone is ringing off the hook.
It’s easy to notice when a team member is pulling their third cup of coffee by 10AM on a Tuesday. But an exhausted coworker working from home isn’t going to be noticed the same way.
A sleepless night could turn into a missed deliverable if the team isn’t aware that a coworker is struggling and can’t keep up.
The good news is that a coworker in such a situation could be given a break to take a nap and freshen up without causing an embarrassing scene in the company breakroom. If such an individual can be convinced to just power down the laptop and take an hour or two to recharge, the rest of the day might be salvageable for your tired colleague.
Stay In Touch
More importantly, however, is the need for the team to know what’s going on in the first place with everyone.
That doesn’t mean spilling embarrassing stories of bachelor parties or relationship drama to your coworkers, of course. Rather, during morning coordination meetings or check-ins, a simple ‘how’s everyone doing today’ is a good question to ask.
If a coworker is not at 100%, they don’t have to spill the details—a simple ‘I couldn’t sleep at all last night’ or some other similarly unspecific excuse will suffice. Of course, meeting leaders should be careful not to let a morning status check devolve into politics or other matters. For instance, ‘I couldn’t sleep until 4am’ should suffice. There’s no need to delve into detail about whatever’s on the news today.
This advice also extends to other matters beyond health and energy levels as well. If you plan to have contractors coming in to rebuild the kitchen at noon, or need to step out for 15 minutes to pick up something at the convenience store, it’s good to let the team know ahead of time. A little advance warning goes a long way to prevent communication delays between remote workers.
Maintaining Work/Life Balance
We all dread a long morning commute.
Shortening the daily commute from the bedroom to the living room has made a lot of people believers in the work-from-home era. However, change doesn’t come without downsides.
Without a hard barrier separating the two, work and home life can for some people become inextricably mixed. It’s easy to just leave the laptop on after the bell in case one of your colleagues needs some quick assistance.
Sure, it can help your team get deliverables out faster. After all, if one of your direct reports needs an approval, or needs to just ask a simple question to get past a critical blocker, resolving that issue quickly can let work proceed. You could save several hours of unnecessary work.
But handling emails until 7pm or 8pm today can soon turn into handling emails until 7pm or 8pm every day, even if it’s outside your normal work agreement. After all, those who give an inch today are often expected to give a mile tomorrow.
Furthermore, even if there’s nothing actually going on today, worrying about a critical notification coming in can easily make free time feel like work time. How can you really enjoy a back episode of Game of Thrones if you’re checking your phone for work every few minutes?
Keeping Your Environment Tidy
It can be tempting to allow Mr. Cuddles to join in on the conference call.
Sure, he’s unlikely to reveal corporate secrets, being a cat and all. But it’s less about the profit/loss statements that Mr. Cuddles would no doubt find indecipherable anyhow, and more about just maintaining a semblance of professionalism during the workday.
Look Professional, Even In Your Bedroom
First, during online meetings involving webcams, you should be properly dressed.
While this doesn’t have to mean suit and ties for everyone, neither should it allow for seriously improper attire such as pajamas and bathrobes.
Employees don’t have to be on webcam for meetings if the company prefers not to do so. But if the meeting is a video conference, you should dress the part. If you’re working for a small company, it’s probably not necessary to wear a suit and tie, but it is good to wear something equivalent to whatever the CEO would be wearing.
Second, employees should endeavor to set up a space for themselves at home that can be dedicated to the working environment during the day.
If children are present, this can be a way to alert them in a visual matter that Mom isn’t just upstairs playing on the computer all day, but is doing serious work and shouldn’t be interrupted if at all possible. Mr. Cuddles can be quietly left alone to snooze where he won’t walk across the keyboard during important meetings.
For the employee who just can’t seem to leave it all alone at 5pm, shutting the door to the home office might help give them a sense of closure for the workday that prevents them from feeling unnecessarily tied to the computer late into the night.
A Secure Work-At-Home Environment
Of course, shutting the door to the home office can help prevent that embarrassing moment where another person living in the house crashes a video meeting without knowing they are doing so. Perhaps more importantly, it also prevents others from inadvertently hearing confidential information that should not be shared outside the company.
The team shouldn’t have to have their webcams on all day during work hours. In fact, many people find these types of surveillance measures annoying, invasive, or even insulting. But ensuring that employees are presentable keeps the workday moving with minimal distractions, and a secure working environment ensures that important information stays private.
Not every job can be replicated in a work-from-home environment.
However, many jobs can work successfully from home. There are a number of reasons why a substantial culture shift toward a work-from-home environment is looking more and more likely to be the norm going forward.
Many employees prefer working from home, and greater possibilities open up every year as collaborative software suites are improved and expanded upon. What used to be possible only from the office is now easily handled from the home office.
Now is a great time for businesses to prepare and refine their processes for work-from-home potential, because it looks like it’s going to be the future.