Some people work from home really, really well. For others, it’s a challenge to stay focused when the dog is hovering for a walk and the kids next door are screaming at each other. Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, live alone or with others, there are a few best-practice tools and tips that will set you on the path to success at home.
And given that we'll likely be working from home in some capacity for at least a few more weeks and potentially into the future, we pulled together a quick guide to being productive when working from home.
Have the right digital tools in place
A bad tradesman always blames his tools but a good one does too - and for good reason! Having the right digital tools can be the key to efficient, transparent and collaborative outputs, which are super important when working remotely. According to a recent study by intelligent workspace provider Citrix, nearly 1 in 4 workers in Australia believe that not having the right technology is the biggest hindrance to working productively from home.
So what’s the best set-up?
Microsoft Office 365 is a great foundation for collaborative, cloud-based work. It allows teams to host (and record) morning stand-ups, team meetings and private chats as video calls in Teams; contribute to live documents with version control in Word, Excel and Powerpoint Online; and save files to OneDrive and Sharepoint for real-time access anywhere.
When it comes to project management, tools like Asana and Trello are lifesavers for many businesses - who doesn’t feel productive when ticking off a list or dragging items across a board! It comes down to personal preference but Asana really is amazing when it comes to managing tasks, assigning work activities and tracking project progress. Being able to comment on tasks, upload files and add custom fields for project requirements like publishing schedules allows for total visibility...so nothing falls through the communications cracks.
Importantly, digital tools can also help people to avoid social isolation and depression, which has been so important during this coronavirus craziness. Zoom, Google Hangouts and other chat apps have been amazing at keeping up the online social activity. Our monthly joke-off might be here to stay!
And platforms like Everperform are great for gathering ongoing feedback, sending out pulse checks on how people are feeling, and tracking sentiment and performance data over time to be proactive around conversations. Check out their insights into the 4 types of conversations we have with our colleagues that can enhance meaningful human connections when working remotely.
Finally, while digital tools help immensely with our productivity when working remotely, it can all go down the gurgler if we don’t ensure proper cyber security. Working from home presents new challenges to prevent malware, ransomware or data theft,so make sure you’re across what’s important and how to stay safe online.
Stick to a regular routine
Set your alarm for the same time each day and allow some time to wake up...particularly, if you’re not a morning person. Usually, the commute to work gets us out in the fresh air and gives our systems a chance to boot up, so by the time we make it into the office, it’s go-time. But moving straight from a warm bed to the laptop can mean our brains are still a little foggy. Perhaps head out for a walk or do some stretches to get things moving!
Get dressed each day. Activewear is comfy and does encourage exercise but something a little nicer can create the right mindset for work and professionalism. And it avoids embarrassing scenarios like revealing your pyjama bottoms when standing to lift the blind (for example)! It happens.
It’s an obvious one but an important consideration. Try to set aside a workspace so your brain can get into work mode...even if it's just a nook in a communal living area. Make sure it’s a space you enjoy. Why not add a plant and a print? A designated space helps to keep some balance with work and personal life, so you don’t feel like you’re always working when you should be doing other things or enjoying some down time.
Eat well but not too well. As always, a healthy diet promotes good energy and a positive mind so it’s great to keep up the regular fuel. But when you’re a stone’s throw from the fridge it can be tempting to have cheese breaks a little too often. Try to stick to regular meal times and get a green smoothie into you every now and then.
If you do fall off the wagon every now and then, setting aside some regular breaks in your schedule for sunshine and exercise will help to keep you feeling good mentally and physically. If it’s raining, you might like to check out our article on staying healthy at home - it includes some physio exercises that are designed for people working from home.
Reap the rewards!
Then you can reward yourself with a Netflix binge...5 minutes after clocking off! As the BlueRock Digital team recently discovered, they are saving 75 hours a week in travel time since working from home, which has certainly opened up the schedule for more work, exercise and time with the family.
In fact, there are a lot of benefits to working from home occasionally or all the time. And if we get it right, it might reshape the way we all do business when we return to a post-COVID-19 world, where we hopefully work smarter, not more.