WORKING FROM HOME: HACKS FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS
Working From Home (WFH) has become a new reality for most of us over the last week. Although your new office space is more “relaxed” than usual, you can still be just as productive from the comfort of your own home as you were from your fancy desk chair. Here are some quick tips for tweaking your habits and routines to make working from home a success:
GIVE STRUCTURE TO YOUR DAY
Working from home is a little bit like one of those sundaes you used to make when growing up. (You know, the ones that had a little bit of everything on the top.) As you revel in the convenience of your new commute, marvel at the proximity to the snacks in your refrigerator, and sprinkle important business calls in between loads of laundry, the “point” of your day starts to seem very muddled, very quickly.
That’s why we cannot stress enough the importance of infusing structure into your day. Boundaries and structure may seem like irritating words, especially because “remote work” implies a level of flexibility that you just can’t get at a traditional office setting, but, just like your parents used to say about those sundaes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
The more you let yourself become distracted by the comforts of home, the more you forego your most valuable commodity: time. Setting boundaries for your day, even ones as simple as setting your work hours between 9am and 5pm, takes away the guesswork. By structuring your day, you not only set an expectation for yourself in regards to the tasks that need to be completed for the day (and when they should be completed), you also free up time that would otherwise be spent on planning, decision-making, and preparation.
As you consistently structure your days, you will develop a routine, effectively taking the streamlining your process and making you more efficient. It can be beneficial to develop a routine to kickstart your brain and remind your body that between certain hours, your attention should be dedicated to your work.
If you struggle when putting together a schedule for your day, keep in mind that 90-minute working intervals have been shown to be the most conducive to quality performance and productivity. Begin your morning by assessing what tasks must be completed today, and then break these tasks into 90-minute segments, scheduling breaks in between each one. Because, believe it or not, breaks are just as valuable as periods of intense focus and the highest performing employees are known to take breaks throughout the workday.
CREATE A PRODUCTIVE WORKSPACE
If we revisit that sundae you used to devour as a child, you probably know where we’re going with this point. While that sundae was delicious...it had a lot going on, flavor-wise.
Unsurprisingly, productivity centers around your workspace. If you thought staying focused at the office was difficult, between gossiping in the breakroom and impromptu meetings, try adding all the distractions of home into the mix. Between the dishes piling up in the sink, the TV you turned on “for background noise,” and kids running through the house, it can be very easy to find your mind to be drawn away from your daily tasks.
Distractions can be especially detrimental to your productivity levels. Studies have shown that once you’ve been derailed from a task by an interruption, it takes an average of 23 minutes, 15 seconds to get back on track.
To minimize your chances of becoming distracted while working from home, create a space that is dedicated to your work. While this doesn’t mean visiting your local IKEA and investing in a desk set and fancy rolling chair, it does mean carving out a specific area in your home and designating it as a “work space.” Whether it's a corner of the couch or a specific spot at the dining table, having a consistent area where you do your work will help your brain distinguish between “work” areas and “play” areas, ultimately keeping you focused and on task.
Additionally, take the time to set ground rules with the other people in your home or those who share your workspace. Taking the time to align on simple things, such as where business calls should be taken or which hours are appropriate for lunch breaks, can streamline your new office’s workflow. If you’re a parent, having a candid conversation with your children about the rules during work hours, even if it's something as simple as how to behave when you’re on the phone, can be an effective way to remove any unnecessary interruptions.
In a normal workplace scenario, communication is important. In fact, 86 percent of corporate executives, employees, and educators say that ineffective communication is a key reason for workplace failures. When working remotely, communication is essential. The following guidelines can help you contribute to your team’s continued success while working remotely:
- Keep your team in the loop in terms of your availability. Set your status if you're on a call or away at lunch so your team knows when you’re available for questions and when you aren’t.
- Include the right people in your communications. When in doubt, include more people rather than fewer. Co-workers and clients always have the option of opting out of an email chain if it's not applicable to them.
- Embrace video technology. Facial expressions play a major role in communication and presentations. Meetings can become much more productive if you simply turn on the webcam or utilize video conferencing systems such as Zoom.
- Send empty messages. Instead of writing “Hey, can I hop on a quick call with you?” and waiting for a reply, send a quick summary of what you need and any brief background info. This way, your co-worker or client knows what you need and what to expect from your call. It also provides them the opportunity to resolve something through email if possible.
- Be hard to reach. Working remotely doesn’t mean falling off the face of the planet. Make sure your phone’s ringer is turned on and you’re actively checking your email during work hours.
- Forget to ask for help. When working remotely, it can be easy to forget you are part of a team. When you need assistance, don’t forget you can reach out to your teammates for support.
Above all else, remember that one of the best things about working from home is the ability to customize your routine to suit your specific needs. We hope you will use this advice to help adjust and work efficiently from the comfort of your home!