During the current COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown many employees are now working from home. Some are finding it ‘wonderful’ and prefer it and others are finding it ‘awful’ and can’t wait to get back to their old work desk. Which one are you ?… I’m the latter and have promised myself that I will never complain about that dodgy wheel on my office chair again… I am actually looking forward to swivelling on it again, hopefully in the not too distant future! But it has to be said that working from home can prove to be difficult and can really affect your wellbeing and mental health. It’s good to be aware of how the changes are affecting you and acknowledge the fact that things will eventually revert back to normal.
If you are not used to working remotely or do not have a dedicated workspace in your home, distractions can affect productivity. After all, it’s your personal space, not your regular professional space. The kids are shouting, the cat doesn’t understand you are meant to be working, the dog is barking to go for a walk… Perhaps you are tempted to binge-watch the latest season of your favourite series on Netflix (because that’s what you normally do in this space… and it just doesn’t feel normal). Well you need to separate the space from ‘home’ for the period of the day that “you are working” and revert it back to your ‘personal space’ after work hours.
Here are our top tips to be productive when working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Choose Your Workspace Carefully
Designate a space in your home that can act as your workstation. This way, you can concentrate on your work ‘when working’ and not let your personal life get in the way of your designated work time.
Your workstation should be a space that’s free of distractions. Try and make it a zone of solitude and quietness, where you can focus on the job in hand.
Look for these things when your setting up your workspace in the home:
- The least accessed space of the house (not in a walkway with other family members passing every few minutes).
- Is the bedroom empty for most of the day? Then that’s the perfect location.
- Somewhere near a window or the balcony if possible.
- A quiet corner of the house, that preferably you can close the door on.
Get Ready for the Day
It’s important to follow a normal routine.
Make a habit of waking up early in the morning just as before the lockdown, take a shower and get dressed for your workday.
Designate your work clothes (don’t fall into the lazy option of tracksuit every day). Your designated work clothes don’t need to be the typical professional attire, they can be more casual the your normal office attire, but don’t wear your weekend ‘hang out’ gear. A t-shirt and shorts are fine but the idea is that you make yourself aware you are in ‘work’ mode and not ‘chill out’ mode.
Set a Schedule
Working from a vague plan can severely affect productivity.
Make a daily schedule for yourself and stick to it. Better yet, put your schedule in writing. Jot it down on a paper or generate a digital schedule. Create a detailed to-do list that’s divided into categories and segregated by importance.
Use Technology to Stay Connected
Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to stay at home and practice social distance, staying connected with your work colleagues is essential. Not just to collaborate on projects, but also to have some social interaction and normality with your work colleagues. Daily telephone / video chats will ‘keep it real’ by sharing experiences and opinions on remote working, discussing the benefits and difficulties you are all experiencing.
Choose a messaging platform such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype to keep in touch with your colleagues. Not only does this help keep everyone updated about your work but it also keeps a sense of camaraderie and team collective support for each other. Essentially, this virtual messaging area is helping to maintain a social ‘virtual’ office environment where you continue to communicate with your team on a professional level whilst also continuing to have the ‘water cooler’ type conversations.