Working from home is a growing trend in recent years as more and more companies leverage technology to connect workforces that are spread across the country and the world.
Remote or flexible working arrangements have become a perk that employers offer to retain and attract new talent, improve employee satisfaction, and promote a healthy work-life balance. For many, the chance to work remotely provides the flexibility to run errands during the day, visit the doctor, and pick the kids up from school. But what happens when you’re forced to work remotely due to a worldwide pandemic?
Working from home full-time presents a unique set of challenges for anyone who isn’t used to it. Substituting your office for your couch sounds great in theory, but there are some productivity hurdles that must be managed in order to work from home effectively.
HOW COVID-19 HAS IMPACTED REMOTE WORK
The coronavirus pandemic has, among many other things, turned remote work from a perk to a necessity. Businesses must now adapt to the fact that many cities, counties, and states are under “stay-at-home” orders or otherwise encouraged to allow remote work where possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Workers across the country and around the globe are being pushed out of the office and into the spare bedroom, to the kitchen table, or onto the living room couch. It’s unfamiliar to most: only 3.6% of the US workforce worked from home half the time or more in 2018.
The immediacy of the coronavirus’ impact on remote work is remarkable. Overnight, millions of people were asked to stay home and telecommute. This presents challenges for businesses and workers alike. Instead of adopting remote policies and building a remote workforce over time, businesses are forced to learn on the fly. Likewise, workers must now make sure their home has an acceptable internet connection, a functional workstation, and otherwise adapt to a new routine that they may not have asked or been prepared for.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier. Here are seven unconventional tips that will help you make the transition from office work to remote work as smooth as possible.
KICKSTART YOUR DAY BY DOING SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU FEEL ACCOMPLISHED
Make your bed, prep your lunch, or get in some exercise before starting your workday. The psychological impact of achievement will help you get motivated and moving into the workday with a sense of pride and accomplishment, even if it’s something small.
NORMALIZE YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
Try to resist rolling out of bed 15 minutes before logging into work. While tempting, this isn’t what you’d normally do if you had to go to the office and the 15 minutes between sleep and work may not have adequately prepared you for the day.
Take the opportunity to sleep in a few more minutes, but don’t nix your entire morning routine. Alter your office routine to fit your new, at-home work life, but continue to go through your typical morning activities like showering, getting dressed, and eating breakfast before diving into your email. A normal morning routine will help you get ready for a day of work, even if your commute is now from the kitchen to the couch.
USE MUSIC TO RESET YOUR MOOD
Music can have a major impact on your mood and productivity. Use this to your advantage throughout the workday and week to adjust your mood and motivation.
If you’re musically inclined, taking a break to play your favorite instrument can be the perfect way to hit reset. If instruments aren’t your thing, try listening to a few of your favorite songs, your favorite artists, or a curated playlist to boost your mood.
CREATE A “MUST DO” TASK LIST EACH MORNING
A “must-do” task list is a great way to organize your day and highlight essential tasks that need to be completed. Avoid making this an exhaustive list. The list should be short – maybe two or three tasks – and specific.
Laying out a few critical tasks for each day helps you organize what and when things need to be done. There is also the added psychological benefit of being able to mark a task complete at the end of the day.
SCHEDULE OCCASIONAL BREAKS
Calendars fill up fast. Make sure to schedule periodic breaks in your day before someone else grabs the 15 minutes you had free after lunch.
Taking a planned break is important in the office, but even more so at home. Use these breaks to get outside for a short walk, finish some household chores, read, or even take a short power nap. You’ll return refreshed and ready to get back to work.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE’S NOTIFICATIONS
If your phone is constantly buzzing with email, text, and news notifications you will have a hard time staying focused. On average, people receive 46 notifications per day on their mobile devices. These can be a major distraction during periods of focused work.
Turning your phone to “do not disturb” mode throughout the day is a simple productivity hack to help you stay focused on the task at hand.
KNOW WHEN TO LOG OFF
Working from home can make it hard to log off and detach from work when you’re always connected and there is no physical commute between work and home at the end of the day.
Enjoy the extra time you have each day without a commute, but try to maintain similar hours you had at the office. Be sure to log off and shut down at the end of the day so your home doesn’t begin to feel like a 24-hour workplace.
WHAT ARE YOUR DOING TO MAKE WORKING FROM HOME EASIER?
Try one or all of these tips and let us know how they work for you. Additionally, check out this great discussion thread for more unconventional tips to make remote working easier.
We want to hear from you – what’s your favorite tip to make working from home easier? It appears we will be in this situation for a while, so it’s time to settle in and make the most of it. And if your house is feeling cramped with your partner and kids at home along with you, our advisors are here to answer any questions you may have about upgrading.