The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) means that many of us are now working from home. For some this is nothing new, but if you’re used to going to the office on a daily basis, this may feel like completely uncharted territory.
As of yet there is no clear picture of how long social distancing measures will stay in place, so, for your own productivity and well-being, it’s important that you work on cultivating healthy working from home habits.
Here are our top tips for remote working success:
Use video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom, Join.Me or Skype to stay in the loop with colleagues, clients and suppliers and get much-needed ‘face time’ throughout the week. Daily catchups can help increase transparency in terms of individual and team priorities. As a team, set out guidelines as to which channels of communication you will use and, if using messaging services, like Slack, make sure you’re being as clear, specific and quick to respond as you can be.
Get into a routine
A lack of structure will have even the most motivated and productive of employees reaching for the TV remote. Start off by establishing a standard workday routine: for example, get the big task out the way first thing in the morning, check emails mid-morning and set a regular time for lunch and coffee breaks throughout the day.
Set clear boundaries
Keep your work life as separate from your home life as you can. Ideally this means setting aside a housemate/ child/ partner-free room of the house for working. Keep it clutter-free to help you think clearly and maintain a professional environment, particularly when you are on video conference calls. Set specific ‘office’ hours for work and make sure these don’t encroach on your personal time.
Being in charge of your own workflow risks opening you up to a whole series of off-limits distractions. Manage your predilection for social media, day-time soaps or sports sites by setting aside regular (limited) windows in the day for indulging them.
Optimise your workspace
We all have different ways of working and different requirements when it comes to our working environments. For example, you may be more productive in a quiet room, while someone else may need music to keep them going. Make sure you have a proper desk and a good chair to sit at – balancing your laptop on your lap for the foreseeable future will not do your body any favours. Consider what you need to be comfortable and focused and try to set up your workspace in accordance with that.
Stay on top of your goals
When you’re working remotely you may find that the only one there to motivate you and help you stay on track is…you. Strong self-management skills are key in allowing you to stay on top of your goals: you need to be conscientious, take initiative and know how to manage your time well, including setting deadlines and prioritising tasks. A strong awareness of your preferences and working style, for example, knowing what times of the day you are most productive, will also help you be as productive as you can be.
Protect your well-being
If you’re not used to working remotely, you may find the change quite hard to get used to. Make sure you listen to your needs: if you’re starting to feel a bit lonely, reach out to a friend or colleague; if you’re feeling cooped up, go out for a walk (if this is possible). As a general rule, work on keeping your body and mind healthy by taking regular breaks, eating healthily, getting enough sleep and exercise and ensuring you fully switch off from work at the end of the day.
Full-time remote working may not be something you’re used to, but, with a little organisation and self-discipline, you’ll soon establish a routine that works for you. And with so many of us now in the same position, there’s lots we can learn from one another so don’t hesitate to reach out!