For some people, working from home is no different than working in the office. They sit down at their computer, put in 8 hours, and then log off for the day once everything is done. These people are obviously superheroes, and we should all tip our hats to them. Not everyone can do that, which normally isn't a problem. However, it may end up becoming one due to the recent coronavirus outbreak. Many companies are being forced to have their employees work from home meaning the people who aren't great at working from home are struggling.
So what can someone struggling with this problem do? Obviously they shouldn't just accept doing subpar work. Instead, they need to look for things they can do to boost their productivity and succeed no matter what the environment is. So, in order to help out, here are some tips you can use while you're working remotely.
Set Regular Hours
An often overlooked benefit of working in an office is that there is a clear distinction between work and home. However, when you work from home that can quickly go out the door. You either spend too much time doing "home" activities and not enough work or vice versa. We recommend setting a regular schedule for when you are "at work" versus "at home." One of the easiest ways to do this is to just block out your normal work hours. If you're normally in the office from 8-5, designate that as your dedicated work time. You're already adapted to being productive during these times, so it won't be too difficult to make the transition. If you need to track your time for this, we recommend using tools like Toggl or Clockify.
Create a Separate Workspace
Just as setting regular hours can keep you on track, so can creating an established workspace. When you work from home, you run the risk of having your entire living space becoming your workplace. Of course, the opposite is also true. By working from home you open yourself up to all of the distractions of your daily life. This can cause a huge blow to your productivity. We recommend setting up a distinct space where you'll do your work. Most people choose to use an office, but we're aware that not everyone has one. An alternative is to convert your kitchen table or coffee table into one. Either of these could work, just make sure that it is separate space that accommodates your work needs.
Make a List
It may be one of the most shared productivity tips, but that's only because it works. Creating a list is a great way to organize your responsibilities for the day. The list can either be digital or written, just make sure to create one. You may think you can get by on just a mental list, but you'd be wrong. Commit it to a medium so that you can hold yourself accountable. Additionally, make sure you're being specific with the items on your list. Vague items like "Create X report" aren't very helpful - especially for larger tasks. Break down larger items into smaller tasks so they are more manageable and easier to keep track of. By doing this, you can work through these simpler sub-tasks to build momentum that you can carry with you throughout the day.
It can be easy to lose yourself in your work for long stretches of time when you're working remotely. The problem with working like that is that it's inefficient. The longer you work without a break the more you risk your work declining in quality. Remember, productivity isn't just measured by the quantity of your work, but also by the quality. Experts recommend taking a 15 minute break every 75 to 90 minutes, helping you consolidate information and retain it better. This also prevents burnout and allows you to keep a consistent level of quality in your work.
Remote work is more productive than in office work. The reason for that is simple: Remote workers tend to be more efficient. Without meetings and coworkers to distract them, people who work from home tend to complete their assignments faster. Remote workers actually spend less time per day on distractions (27 minutes vs. 37 minutes) and they tend to take shorter breaks. While working remotely, you might find yourself done with all of your work by 3 pm. The best thing to do with your time is to be proactive. Look for new skills you can learn or offer to help coworkers out with their assignments. These are all great uses of time and can keep you productive.
When working from home, it can be easy to just "disappear." This is one of the worst things you can do. You need to be in constant communication with your boss and coworkers. Whether that's over email, IM, or video conferencing, you need to be communicating. We all take for granted the amount of communication that goes on in the office. When working remotely, you should do your best to replicate that same atmosphere. This way, you can prevent miscommunication among your team and also stave off any sense of isolation that may be creeping in.
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Written by Quentin Russell
Quentin Russell is a Content Specialist with knowledge of Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.