How to Work From Home and Stay Productive
A lot of changes have happened in 2020. Due to shutdowns and social distancing restrictions, many companies chose to have employees work from home. For many, productivity became a main concern.
“What if I can’t focus at home?”
“Will I be expected to work longer hours since my office and home are now the same place?”
“How do I manage having kids at home and getting my work done?”
Here are National American University, the majority of our staff and faculty work remotely (starting before the global pandemic). When our team made that transition, everyone had to figure out where to work and how to maintain a healthy work/life balance. We work hard to nurture relationships and friendships with our team while working from home. Although our staff can be found all over the U.S., we work cohesively as a team. We are sharing 10 tips that have helped our team stay productive while WFH.
Decide on Regular “Business Hours” with Your Team/Department
When working in an office, there is always a start time for when you need to show up and be ready to work. This shouldn’t change even though your commute is very different. Choose what time of day you and your team are “in the office” so the group continues to work together and be “on” at the same time to help each other with projects.
Set Ground Rules with Your Family
When other people share your living space, it is easy to get distracted from work. Realistically, it will be impossible to go 8 hours without talking to your family or roommates, and honestly, who would want to? Develop a set of rules or systems that work with your family. Close the office door or put up a sign when you’re in a meeting or working on a project where you can’t be interrupted. Figure out what works best for you and your family and stay consistent!
Create a Dedicated Office Space
If you have a spare room, unused guest bedroom, or corner of the basement, create a dedicated office space with a desk and access to power outlets. For those who don’t have that physical space, it is important to create a work versus personal mindset. If you have to work from your kitchen table or coffee table, get a desk organizer that can help you quickly transition this living space to a workspace. Actively work on keeping your desk tidy with these tips.
Dress for Work
We’re not saying you should wear a suit and tie or a dress with heels, but wear a nice pair of pants and a work appropriate shirt. When you get up each morning and change into professional clothes, it will trigger “work mode” in your brain and help you start the day ready to dive into work.
Take Your Full Lunch Break
When you can’t leave to go take a lunch, it’s easy to work through your lunch break or continue working while eating lunch. At home, with everyone on different lunch schedules, you may feel the need to answer emails, instant messages, or phone calls from co-workers even though you should be on break. You need this time to re-charge and energize. Set your phone to away and create a Lunch meeting on your calendar so people know you will be busy during that time.
Leave the House at the End of The Day
We will preface this section by saying, leave the house for a safe, socially distanced activity. When you’ve worked your scheduled hours, but you haven’t left your at-home work environment, you can get pulled back into work. It’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. When you’re done for the day, get of the house and take a walk or go for a drive. Let your brain acknowledge the end of the day and transition into personal-life mode.
Only Use Your Work Computer for Work
Assuming your job provided you with a work computer – this needs to be kept strictly as a work computer. Not only does this help separate work from personal in your brain by associating different devices with each, it keeps you out of trouble by preventing you from looking at something NSFW. Protect yourself by keeping your devices separated!
Participate in Culture Events
Now that everyone is working from home, companies are worried that employees will no longer feel connected to their co-workers or the organization. Many companies host virtual events, contests, or dress-up days to break up the normalcy and get everyone re-connected. You will find yourself happier at work and still feeling connected when you participate in these events. We have spirit weeks once a month and our team loves them. Our social media proves that.
A great and easy way to stay connected with your team is utilizing video calls during meetings. Intention and tone can be lost in emails and instant messages. As humans, we value not just words spoken, but how they were said and what someone’s face indicates while they say it. Video calls fill that basic human need when interacting with your team and helps create and maintain relationships with coworkers. Protect your meetings by using passwords and following these other tips!
Everyone feels overwhelmed right now. We’re all adjusting to working from home and learning how to stay connected with coworkers. The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to over-communicate and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Share your schedule and availability often and with everyone. Give consistent updates on where you are in each project and what you need from them. Everyone is busy and in new territory. Just because something is important to you, does not mean they remember it after hearing it once. Keep communicating, and your team will be more productive.
We hope these tips are helpful in staying or becoming more productive while working from home. There is always a chance that companies will transition to having their employees working remotely from here on out. Get yourself on track now so you can stand out and be productive. You’ve got this!