Human beings tend to be creatures of habit. In some cases, this is the only way we get out the door every day to get to work. What happens when routine goes out the window? Such is the case right now, with the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and major disruption to business operations.
However, even for those employees who are able to work from home, it’s important to maintain some sense of routine – even while the world around us is seemingly falling to pieces. With these 10 practical tips, you can ensure your productivity – and the productivity of your team – doesn’t unduly suffer due to the changed working conditions.
- Start early and maintain a regular wake-up time. It’s easy for a holiday vibe to set in. Don’t let it! Starting the day right by waking at the same time (at a reasonable hour) can set you up for a more productive day. An early start can be the prime time to map out the priorities for the day, check and respond to emails and organise your physical working environment.
- Get dressed properly. Yes, the temptation is to remain in pyjamas all day long. Fight that urge. Changing clothes sends a message to the brain that “home time” is over and the workday is due to start.
- Have a designated workspace. Related to the above, in many cases a work from home situation will be the ultimate blending of work life and personal life. However, some will dislike the thought of work “intruding” into a personal space such as a bedroom. If your home allows, try to set up your workspace separate from the bedroom. If space does not allow for this separation, ensure you shut down your computer at the end of your working day. There’s nothing like a blinking red light to remind you of that looming deadline – so shut it down completely.
- Structure your day as if at the office. You would rarely, if ever, have a day in the office without an agenda or plan of attack. Whatever your regular routine in the office, try to replicate that in your work from home circumstances.
- Have a list of daily tasks and priorities. Related to the above, stick to your regular process of prioritising tasks and staying on top of administration. Hopefully you’ll already be clear on what work needs to be done and expected outcomes and timelines have been discussed with your manager. Out of sight does not mean out of mind – so make sure you stick to your regular workload each day.
- Turn off any distractions. Anyone who works in an open plan office knows there are plenty of distractions from talkative neighbours – and unfortunately there’s no way of switching them off. This isn’t the case at home. Despite the temptations of Netflix, once you’re in “work-mode”, make sure the television is switched off and any other distractions are minimised.
- Advise others in the home of your scheduled calls. We all likely recall the amusing viral video clip from 2017 which saw a professor being interviewed by the BBC from his home being interrupted by a dancing young child and a baby – both of whom were completely oblivious to their father’s attempts to continue with “work as usual” (if not, have a laugh and view it here). It’s best to alert your family and housemates when you need to be on the phone or making conference/video calls. Consider laying some basic ground-rules or even create an “On Air” sign to avoid embarrassing interruptions.
- Wear headphones to eliminate background noise. Just like in the traditional office environment, noise-cancelling headphones can be a blessing when the real world encroaches on your quiet work time – as it invariably will from time to time.
- Take regular breaks; stretch your legs. You wouldn’t sit in the office for hours at a time, so there’s no reason to do this at home. If you’re not in strict quarantine, go for a walk around the neighbourhood, do some basic stretching exercises and get your body moving.
- Have a definitive finish time. It’s tempting to tick one more item off the “to-do” list, to answer one more email, or complete that final report. With the line between work and home so hazy, it’s critical to have a definitive finish time – and to stick with that.
Working from home can be extremely productive. One survey highlighted that 85% of employers believe productivity actually improves due to greater flexibility. However, to be efficient, you must get organised. With these simple tips, you can create optimal working conditions regardless of your physical location.
ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll can help business leaders manage their workforce, even while operating remotely. As a cloud-based solution, ELMO helps employers manage their teams from anywhere at any time from a secure, centralised database. All employee-employer touchpoints are covered by ELMO’s suite, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes recruitment, onboarding, performance management, payroll, rostering / time & attendance, learning & development, and more. For further information, contact us.