Businesses around the world have recently adapted and adjusted their policies to ensure business continuity, resulting in many professionals working from home for the first time. These best practices can help those new to remote work maintain productivity and stay connected.
1. Maintain a Set Schedule
Flexibility is one of the most attractive things about remote work, allowing professionals to set their own schedules and prioritize tasks as they see fit. This flexibility can also be dangerous, making it difficult for some to separate work and home life. Set a schedule for the workday just as you would if you were going into the office, with predetermined start and end times. Stick with the schedule and use personal time to truly unwind and unplug from work in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
2. Dress the Part
It may seem appealing to stay in your pajamas when working from home, but it will be more difficult for your brain to dissociate between sleep and work at the beginning of the day. Set yourself up for the day the same as you would if you were commuting by getting up early, maintaining a morning routine, and changing into “work” clothes. Business professional attire may not be necessary unless you have a video conference call with a client or colleague, but it is important to dress the part and be intentional about having a productive day.
3. Have a Dedicated Workspace
Arrange a dedicated desk to use during the workday with everything you need including notebooks, pens, your laptop or desktop computer, and a phone nearby. Ideally, a good home workspace will be in a separate room from main living spaces, but even a table in a corner used exclusively for work can help compartmentalize work from other daily activities. At the end of the day, close the door, walk away, or close your laptop so that work doesn’t overlap with leisure time.
4. Take Breaks Outside the House
Whether you work in an office or at home, breaks are an important part of maintaining productivity. More importantly for remote workers is finding time to get out of the house. Set scheduled breaks throughout the day and make sure to use the entire time. Go for a walk, have lunch on the patio or an outdoor space, or tend your garden. Moving around and getting fresh air will help your mind reset and allow you to return to the job refreshed and revitalized.
5. Set Boundaries
Ensure family and friends have a clear understanding that you are working from home, and are not free for leisurely activities or conversations. In close quarters, develop a communication system so those in a shared space know when you are on a conference call, in a meeting, or under a tight deadline. Be intentional with time management and not tolerating interruptions.
6. Minimize Distractions
Without the social constructs that come along with a corporate office, it can be easy to stray off task. While it may be tempting to read the latest news and catch up with others on social media, too much time spent on those activities during the workday makes refocusing difficult and limits the amount of productive time in the day. Minimize distractions by making a conscious effort to put away your cell phone or set time limits on social media applications during work hours.
7. Connect with Teammates
Avoid feeling disconnected from teammates by finding ways to catch up regularly. Start meetings with personal check-ins and communicate as a group frequently to build empathy, understanding, and camaraderie among your team members. Recognize valuable contributions, celebrate successes, and discuss the status of ongoing initiatives to create an understanding of how your work contributes to the team.