6 tips on how to ensure productivity when working from home

Posted by Caterina George

As the world takes on the fight from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government has enforced a countrywide lockdown seeing organisations adopting a work from home policy, to ensure the safety of their employees. But even when the country is at a standstill, businesses need to keep moving forwards. This relies on staff remaining productive and motivated and working on the business.

For some, working from home is the norm. But for others with no previous experience of this, it can be seen as luxury and a novel idea. But when remote working looks set to become as standard for the foreseeable future, it takes some skill and discipline to adopt this new style of working.

Here are six tips to help you keep focused during these challenging times:

1) Establish a daily routine

Start the day as you mean to go on. Approach the day as if you were going into the office. Just because you have no commute time, don’t be tempted to hit the snooze button. It’s important to get into “work mode” and avoid drifting through the day.

So be ready to start the day at the same time as you normally would (or earlier if you’re feeling creative). Put the alarm on, take a shower, grab a coffee, meditate and check your social media before your usual start time. By doing these simple tasks, will help to eliminate distractions further in the day.

Self-motivation is key when working remotely. You need to have the enthusiasm to set daily or weekly goals, get organised and be proactive. Without outlining priorities, it’s easy for tasks to lose focus.

Celebrate employee successess, achievements and demonstrating fulfilment of company objectives or values, to continue to motivate and encourage hard work

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2) Getting dressed for work

It’s so tempting to dress comfortably and relaxed whilst at home. But for your state of mind, it’s important to dress the part. Psychologically it will help you get into work mode, keep your mind on the task at hand and make you feel less sluggish.

Plus, you need to look professional for all conference calls as you’re are still representing the business and be prepared for any surprise requests from clients to jump on a quick video chat. Just because we’re working from home, there’s no excuse to be looking at people in their pyjamas.

3) Creating a dedicated “workspace”

Space allowing, set aside a specific area in your home where you can set yourself up – ideally with a table and chair and that you know is just for work. The sofa or your bed, isn’t setting the right precedent for receiving or showing a professional service.

If you have family at home, try and have a separate space where possible and set boundaries. Think of it as if you were in the office – if you are at your desk, that means you are working. When you step out for breaktimes, these are the opportunities for engagement.

Having this separate space will keep you focused and in control. You will be able to differentiate ‘work time’ from ‘chill time’ when you’re done with work at the end of the day. Keep your work area tidy and clean, to have an inviting and motivational space to work. It’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away notebooks etc… when you finish your working day to mentally end the working part of the day and then wind down.

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4) Stay connected

Previously, Mike Ryan shared his recommendations on ‘how to keep employees working from home connected’ and we learned to remember the 3 C’s; collaboration, clarity and communication.

It’s easy to be isolated and insular as we work solely at home. However, it’s business critical and important for our own mental wellbeing that we stay connected with our teammates and the wider company.

Keeping teams connected with the changing parameters of the business, during these unpresented times, will help employees stay focused on the task at hand and reduce anxiety.

For project related tasks, sometimes a quick phone call or video call can be more productive – two minutes on a call can save many more minutes, be clearer and be less frustrating than a long back-and forth on email or applications like Slack taking place in the background.

It’s easy to fire off email after email, as your work your way through your ‘to-do’ list, but don’t miss out on the interactions, or creative mindset the conversation can lead to, when you’re responding to the reactions, tone and ideas that can instantly develop through verbal dialogue.

Just because you are home alone, shouldn’t mean to say you don’t have the support of your team and other departments, just as you would if you were in the office. Don’t feel like you have to fix all the tasks or problems yourself, collaborate with the appropriate colleagues to achieve the best result.

As a manager or a peer, show employees that they are doing a great job or fulfilling company objectives or values, by sending digital e-Cards, instant point vouchers or nominations via a recognition programme. The positive acknowledgements will continue to encourage hard work and motivate good performance.

5) Take a break

Take a break…have a KitKat if you like! Whatever it takes, to give you the opportunity to reset.

It’s important that you get up and move around, just as if you would do when in the office. Stepping away from the work environment can give a fresh perspective and help undo the mental blocks you might be receiving. Or just give your eyes a rest from so much screen time.

If you’re missing out on those tea-break conversations or water-cooler moments, then call your colleagues and see how they are getting on. They might appreciate a friendly voice to chat with, brainstorm ideas or reassure them that we’re all in the same situation and to keep positive.

But break times do need to be balanced. It’s easy to become distracted by the household chores, the fridge or social media, but be reasonable with how these impact on your day. You could set yourself a reward, if you finish a project/task, then you get to receive 10 mins of TV time for example.

Don’t forget to log-off at the end of the day! Compartmentalise work time and personal time. It’s tempting to finish off a project past your designated working hours, but to reduce burn-out and unnecessary stresses, don’t extend the working day.

6) Keep fit and healthy

The current advice issued by the UK Government notes that ‘exercise is important for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, so people can leave their homes for exercise once a day.’

Whilst working within the strict guidelines in terms of social distancing, utilise your designated exercise allowance by going for a morning jog or evening dog walk, a stroll around your garden at lunchtime or an at home workout video.

However you choose to spend this time, it’s crucial to keep moving and stay hydrated for a clear mind. Take in some fresh air and reset for the day ahead. Exercise releases endorphins, which will benefit your mood, leaving you motivated, focused and ready to have a positive outlook on life, even through these difficult times.

For more ideas on motivating your team to help achieve business objectives, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.

Caterina takes on the role of HR, Recruitment, Facilities and Legal Manager at CR Worldwide, as well as making CR the employer of choice