As personal technology has improved, more of the business world has moved on to cloud and web-based systems and attitudes towards presenteeism have changed, flexible and remote working have become increasingly popular. But very few proponents could have expected that a huge chunk of the world’s population would be required to switch to working from home on a full-time basis, almost overnight.
That, of course, is exactly what has happened, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Secondary to the health issues are grave concerns about what happens to the economy and for those lucky enough to have stayed in work, the new normal is now working from home.
This brings with it a raft of issues around productivity. Questions arise for workers about how they can keep up their levels of productivity in a totally different environment using different equipment and surrounded by different people – with all three of those factors often being unsuited to work.
For employers, too, there are difficulties around how to manage staff in terms of productivity but also morale and logistics. Below are some of RedCat Digital’s top tips on keeping productive while working from home.
Time management and structure
Time management is an important skill in any job anyway, but it becomes increasingly important when you’re regularly working from home. Of course, it matters in the sense of getting your work done on time and managing priorities, but it’s also particularly important in terms of establishing a structure.
Many work from home experts stress the importance of structuring your day so that there are clear boundaries between home and work. It can be very easy, when the two are so closely connected, to blur the lines and allow your work life to seep into all hours of your day – particularly when your work environment may be only metres from your bed or sofa.
For some, there are positives to this. Early risers say cracking on early and getting the plan for the day written – or even some tasks completed – before they’ve had breakfast, can be a great head-start to the day.
Few people are lucky enough to have a proper, dedicated office in their home – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to recreate your office environment at home. At the very least, it is best to establish a clear, designated work “zone” – an area that you only use for work. On that note, it’s best not to eat your meals at your desk (something many argue is the case during normal office work, too), in order to keep the distinction clear.
Change your environment, too. There are obvious and highly necessary restrictions on going outside at the moment, but government guidelines allow time for outdoors exercise. It’s good to heed that – going out for a walk, run or cycle and getting out of the house can make a huge difference to your productivity and help you to reset.
There are some work from home distractions you can’t do much about – maybe it’s children, or housemates, or even pets. But one of the biggest distractions, our phones, you can stop. Some people turn off notifications, others delete apps, some even go as far as turning off your phone. As long as you have what you need to contact your colleagues, you should do whatever you need to to avoid being distracted by your phone.
This is related but distinct to timekeeping and structure. If you plan your day ahead of time, it stands to reason that you’ll get more done. What’s more, everyone has different times of day when they are more or less productive. If you know that you’re better working in the morning, get an early start and get most of your work done then – or vice versa.
Many people say that their collaborative work – things like team meetings and phone calls – markedly improves in the afternoon, when they have fully “woken up” and aren’t at all groggy. If that works for you, try to schedule those activities then.
Others also suggest “micro-breaks” – small periods of rest that allow you to reset and have been shown to increase productivity.
It’s a bit of a cliche, but communication is key to so many things – and that includes work. There are now many, many collaboration tools, and your business almost certainly uses at least one. Keep in touch with your colleagues so you all know where you’re at and what you’re doing.
It’s also important to communicate with the people you’re sharing your new “office” with about how you like to work and when you’ll be busy or open to chat. It’s good to stay social and not get buried in your work, but of course, there is a time and a place.
Talk to the experts
This is a strange and scary time for all, particularly around the world of work. The team at RedCat Digital have been working for companies and employees for years on roles that include remote and flexible working, and are experts in their field. They’re here to help anyone with any questions about positions and life working in the digital world.