Over the last few weeks, more and more American workers have been forced out of their offices and have to work from home instead their office.
That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, which found that 3.4 million employees in the U.S. primarily worked from home in 2017. The Fed highlighted this stat in its recent report about the implications of telecommuting and its key drivers, such as the shift away from manufacturing jobs and improved technology making it easier to work from home.
The first step in your “work from home” journey is to designate an area of your home, specifically for getting work done. This could be an empty or spare bedroom that you convert to a home office. If you are pressed for space, you can set up a desk for your computer and office supplies. Regardless of space or location, establish an area of your home where you will work, and commit to working in this space every day. Be sure your work space is quiet so you can focus on the task at hand.
The second step Invest in some quality technology, setting up a home office or workspace may require a small investment. You may have to purchase technology, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet, communication software or a high-performance router to do your job every day.
Now that you have your office or work area set up, it’s time to get down to business literally. If you are going to make working from home an everyday commitment, then set specific business or work hours. Enforce a hard limit at the end of the day. Distance yourself from work, so you don’t work nonstop. Regardless of your schedule, be sure to establish set work hours to follow each day. Communicate your work schedule to co-workers, teams, and your boss.
Discover Your High Productivity Periods
Every individual is most productive at different times of the day. For example, some individuals are morning people, and they are most productive and focused during the morning hours. For others, their most productive time in the workday is the evenings. Discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods.
Update your to do list every morning, when working from home and you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, it can be challenging to keep track of what you have to do throughout your workday. It’s easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, and deadlines. Start your day by reviewing priorities for the day. When you make your task list, stick to it. It’s tempting to just leap into your email, but with a little extra focus, you can move the needle while working from home. Set goals and time limits for each task. After you complete each task, cross it off the list. This simple technique is both effective and fulfilling. Stay on task by quickly writing down all the things that need to get done at the start of each day.
Don’t work in your PJs, we know this is one reason why people love working from home. If you enjoy working in your PJs, then you are killing your productivity. “Dress for success” isn’t just a corporate catchphrase; it really matters when you work from home. Beyond the psychologically getting you in the right mindset for work, you’ll be ready to handle any kind of video chat or check-in with a teammate. You’ll be prepared to get work done, and you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day.
Do not work from the living room, this is another productivity killer. Some folks might think “working from home” is a day to binge Netflix. Wrong. It might be fine to indulge in this vice once, but it will catch up to you if you’re not careful. It’s wise to take to heart why working at home works. It’s not just about avoiding meetings and conference calls or COVID-19. In fact, quite the opposite. Remote workers know the responsibility that comes with working in their quarters. Avoid the TV and other digital distractions so you can focus on your work and getting things done. However, if used just for background noise, it’s probably okay. Avoid watching TV while working; it sucks up your focus from the purpose of working at home. Instead, stream music that complements your work style.
Develop a morning routine, another enjoyable perk of working from home is not having to get up, rush out of the house, and commute to an office. However, working from home doesn’t mean you get to skip your morning routine altogether. Since you’ll likely be cooped up indoors, take a brief walk around the block to take in the fresh air. Get up early, take a shower, make your coffee and breakfast, and prepare your lunch, just like you have to leave the house.
Eat healthy snacks
Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. So, when it’s time for lunch or a snack break, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks, such as chips, cookies, or leftover pizza. When we work in an office, we are at the mercy of whatever is available in the cafeteria or whatever lunch we brought from home. However, research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables has a direct link on overall productivity levels. You can also avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether. With extra planning, you can purchase more nutritional snacks on Amazon rather than buying on impulse. Reward yourself with a sweet snack on Friday after a successful and productive week.
Although I have focused most of this article on how to stay productive while working from home, sometimes the opposite can happen. I think that by working from home, we will be able to get more done because there will be fewer distractions. Therefore, sometimes we end up over-committing and working too much, which also kills productivity. Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have a work-life balance, then you won’t last too long working at home. You can easily avoid this by working short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule, or even make them a part of your rewards system.
Avoid family, friends and pets, this can be difficult, especially if you have young children at home, or have multiple pets, all of whom want your attention. If you are home all day, every day, then family and friends might interrupt you without knowing better. It’s best to set some clear boundaries with your family while you work. It’s not being mean if it results in better performance at work. The counterpoint to this work from home tip is you must be present for your family and friends when away from work. Show up 100% and put your business phone away outside of work hours. Set and stick to specific work hours and communicate those hours clearly with your family and friends.
Take the time to meet with your team regularly. The meetings should have an agenda actively involving all members, so they contribute. Dedicate time to meet privately with each member so they can share status updates, receive coaching, and discuss developments from their personal life. Be mindful under the context of why people work from home. Remote employees might miss some aspects of the office. Beyond handling phone calls, be sure to discuss the bigger projects they are working on. Make remote employees feel valued and included through live video meetings and conference calls regularly.
Remember working from home you must be productive, I know it can be tough. By Kelly Price