In these uncertain times, many of us have been forced into homeworking, and we will be for quite some time. So, how can we remain productive and limit the potential negative side-effects such as feeling isolated? Well, in this blog we have put together our top 10 tips for effective homeworking. We will consider some factors that may provide setbacks, especially considering the period of time from which we will be confined to our homes.
The kitchen table is not ideal, so if at all possible create a workspace that you can designate as your ‘office’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, to help compartmentalise this as a ‘workspace’ and to avoid work encroaching excessively on home life. Secondly, so you can sit down and be highly effective straight away as you can leave your laptop set up there.
One key to effective homeworking is to take into account what your job entails and therefore what equipment you will need. Talk to your employer or invest in yourself to get the right effective homeworking kit for your ‘office’. If possible get a proper chair and monitor so you are not hunched up as this can cause neck and back pain. A mouse or headphones and other computer equipment may also be required.
Creating a new routine and providing a structure to your day is a good way to maintain productivity. Get up, shower, all the usual things and get dressed for work. It doesn’t need to be a suit and tie, in fact, make sure you are comfortable, perhaps in exercise gear or similar (see point 4). Just don’t sit in pyjamas all day, quite aside from the fact that you may get caught out on a webcam, it just isn’t conducive to the work mindset.
Effective homeworking is also dependent on you feeling physically and mentally alert. We need to keep the blood pumping and distract ourselves from raiding the biscuit tin. We could be getting fresh air walking the dog or even doing an online exercise class and stretching. This can be a good way to break up your day and maintain energy levels. Without a commute, we can potentially fit exercise in that we wouldn’t otherwise manage. Scheduling regular breaks to be active can help if you if find you are easily engrossed without interruptions. This is especially important if you don’t have the best desk set up – think regular shoulder rolls or neck stretches.
Plan your working day in blocks of time, don’t just sit in email. Schedule in a variety of activities or project work to vary your day. Give yourself blocks of time to work on them, say 90-120 mins of ‘deep focusing’. Take a break and switch topic after that. This might sound familiar to you if you have read the book The 7 habits of highly effective people book by Stephen Covey, he refers to the term ‘big rocks of time’.
Close up your desk at the end of the day. Finish up by planning for tomorrow by creating goals or a to-do list. As you will know what you are doing tomorrow, you can switch off at night knowing that there are no loose ends. Also, you will be ready to go come the next morning.
Put the phone away! If you want to use your phone as a breather set a timer so it doesn’t become a longer break than you think is appropriate. Don’t be sucked into the news or social media as this can be a huge time thief (as well as depressing currently)! Just remember to be responsible and keep social media/news to a minimum. Perhaps turn off notifications when you are trying to focus so that distractions don’t dominate your time.
Think about what you can do to be really effective. Control what you can control and maintain a positive attitude if you can. Mindset impacts how productive we are, both positively and negatively. Therefore, it is wise to stay away from things that make you anxious if possible.
Collaborate and get things done by having a conversation. Pick up the phone or jump on Skype or Microsoft Team Chat, or whichever electronic collaboration tool you use. Some people are more available now than they would have been previously as they don’t have so many meetings, so you might be able to get hold of them more easily. However, do consider each person’s working situation may be different.
Replicate the coffee machine, possibly on one of your social media channels. Ask how people are, what their successes or challenges have been. Also, you could about their co-workers, kids, plants, or pets they’ve got at home. This helps to lighten the mood and brings in the social element that comes naturally in an office. By adding this human element, it can also reduce the feeling of isolation and demonstrate to your colleagues that you care about them and their situation. We can all benefit from showing solidarity and consideration, as some may be more adversely affected in this current climate than others.
As we recognise these are challenging times, we have put together various resources on working remotely that can be used by individuals, managers, and HR. All of these resources are listed below,