In recent weeks many companies have taken the step of requiring some or all of their employees to work from home.
For many, this is a change to their working arrangements they may be unprepared for. While working remotely does provide advantages such as saving time and money by eliminating commuting, it can also increase stress levels if the right managing techniques aren’t put in place.
Working remotely can be challenging under normal circumstances – but for those doing so for the first time or adjusting to sharing their home office with children, spouses or roommates – it is important to create structure and expectations.
In addition to any best practices your company will share relative to specific requirements for your technology and cybersecurity, the following tips can help enable optimal productivity:
Prepare for Success
- Create your workspace: Establish a dedicated work environment that is free from distractions. Consider logging out of all social media accounts during work hours (unless necessary for your job). If you are sharing a space with others, it can be helpful to lay ground rules and expectations for noise levels and break times or create a communal calendar for phone and video calls.
- Evaluate and upgrade your home technology: Working from a laptop? Perhaps consider investing in a laptop stand to minimise stress on your neck. If you’re trying to avoid extra costs, you can also try using books or photo albums to raise the height of your laptop. Consider increasing or boosting your Internet bandwidth, especially if you have multiple people accessing your network at the same time. Those with spotty cell phone reception may consider getting a home phone line if they haven’t got one already.
- Establish set working hours: When you work in the same place you live, it can be easy to extend office hours and not take necessary breaks. Develop a routine in which you have a set start and finish time. Potentially schedule a recurring meeting in your calendar each morning to ensure you start your day on time. Similarly, block out time for a lunch break and then log out and log off at the end of your workday.
- Hold daily check-ins: Maintain open and frequent communication with your manager, colleagues and those who report to you. Managers should hold regular meetings with team members where possible. Establish expectations for response times to emails and phone calls while utilising out of office reminders or notifications if you will be away from your desk for an extended period of time.
- Leverage multiple technology platforms: Phone, email and chat are likely to already be standard in your working life. Using video conferencing may enable feeling more connected and decrease isolation.
- Be productive and proactive: Plan to deliver the same productivity that you do when you are in the office. Have your manager or colleagues hold you accountable. Alert colleagues if you anticipate delays in your work or if you are collaborating on a group project.
- Leverage technology support: Leverage your company’s IT support desk if you have questions or need support. Understand that they are likely receiving a large number of requests for similar support at this time, so may not be able to help as quickly as usual.
Manage Your Time
- Practice effective time management: As you adjust to your new environment, you will establish peak performance times such as early morning before other family members are awake. Find the times that work best for you to maximise your productivity.
- Build in time for the unexpected: If you build in extra time for unanticipated work demands, you will be less stressed if and when these happen. Set aside time and you can always reallocate it to get ahead on a project if no emergencies pop up.
- Take breaks: Step away from your work area for 10-20 minute breaks every two hours. Take a short walk, read a quick article, check in with your family members or other friends working remotely. This shift in your focus will make you more productive when you return to work.
- Be flexible and patient: This is even more essential now that you are working from home. As your company is responding to properly equip the newly remote workforce, there may be delays in responses from colleagues or a lag in technology.