A vast majority of organizations around the world began working from home the same day the WHO officially declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. While most of the HR superstars across organizations were busy getting us up to speed on basic hygiene and precautions to take, we saw many businesses considering various options to streamline the work from home transition. Millions of people are now working remotely for the first time ever and experiencing that it isn’t as simple or exciting as it may sound.
Working remotely can be hugely satisfying and productive, but it can also be challenging at the same time. There’s an added advantage of spending more time with your near and dear ones, saving on the time you would spend on your daily commute, and working in a space where you’re already quite comfortable. However, on the other hand, some find working from home to be extremely distracting and can’t seem to get most of the work done. For first-time telecommuters, here are a few tricks and tips to make working from home as productive as possible.
1. Prepare for multiple distractions: Working from home does not mean fewer distractions—just different ones. If you’re working from home for the first time, here’s a quick list: family, kids, OTT platforms, neighbors etc. You can’t avoid all distractions. Therefore, be prepared for distractions and set common-sense boundaries. Set aside major chunks of your day for work, and explain your family members about why it’s important that you stay focused. Keep your phone on silent and far away—unless that’s your work device.
2. Start your day early, comparatively: Beat the rush of distractions later in the day by starting work as early as you can. If you’re used to a long commute that helps you organize yourself for the day ahead, working from home can take a little getting used to. Being prepared for distractions helps, but you’ll find an early start to be your best bet to get your majority of work done. Simply getting started on a task in the morning keeps motivation levels high and helps you stay focused almost throughout the day.
3. Pretend you’re in your office: In the office, our actions are sometimes motivated by bosses or colleagues looking over our shoulders. At home, free of any watching eyes, it’s easier to lose focus and kill time. Pretending to be in the office helps you start or continue productive habits, like daily to-dos, and keeps you focused. Set dedicated hours for work, connect with teammates on collaborative platforms, schedule and conduct video calls, do everything you do in the office—as much as you can. You will eventually realize that you have a lot more time when working from home.
4. Plan your day – Create a To-Do List! A lot of us probably do this already, but planning your day is all the more important when you work from home. Even the most focused of us can find a new working environment little challenging. You might start strong, but as distractions crop up, it’s very easy to lose focus. Planning your day doesn’t have to be a big fancy task. Simply think of hours you want to set aside for work. Then you want a list of things to do in those chunks of time. Do it at the end of the day for the next one. And don’t forget to check things off that to-do list every time you finish a task, because that keeps you going!
5. Take multiple breaks, it’s not a crime! Working from home—in a study or in the living room, or even your bed—means working in a space of comfort. While this can be fun and comforting, it can also mean getting lost in the flow, and at times for hours. That’s probably alright, once in a while, but you want to take regular breaks to get up, stretch those fatigued muscles, and hydrate and nourish yourself. It seems easy to keep working for hours when you’re lying on the couch. Set an alarm to eat on time, get a cup of coffee, or just stretch your legs, so you can stay active throughout the day. Set reminders to take a short break every hour. You will probably ignore it sometimes if you’re in the middle of something that needs to be finished or on a call, but it helps ensure that you don’t just sit in a corner all day.
6. Save meetings for mid-day (or later!): Early mornings—when energy levels are high—should be saved for your best work. Setting up meetings towards the middle of the day means you can continue being productive for the rest of the day. Remote teams will want to find an overlap of hours to discuss work. Post a series of meetings, give yourself a small break to refresh and recharge before you get back to your tasks. Also, when you take meetings in the middle of the day, you can take a power nap immediately afterwards—in your own bed. Naps are a superpower, and working from home means you can get more of it every day.
7. Make time for video calls: Unfortunately, working from home also means missing office banter and post-work parties, or your water cooler conversations with your favorite co-worker. Over time, the lack of in-person collaboration when working remotely can foster a feeling of isolation and loneliness. There is no all-in-one solution to this problem, but simply connecting over a quick video call with a teammate (or two) every day to talk about your respective days and shoot the breeze can be a big help. Maybe a morning call helps to understand how your teams are placed throughout the day.
Bonus Tip: Bring out your most loved playlist! Right now, when everyone is working at home also means, the entire family is home. Your spouse is working from home, no school / colleges for kids. So there is usually quite a bit of background noise throughout the day. Listening to music can help you cut through the noise and focus on work, but your mileage may vary.
By following these basic steps, be assured of a hassle-free experience when working from home during this lockdown!
Author– Bhavin Turakhia, CEO & Founder, Flock | CEO & Co-founder, Zeta