More than 50% of blue-collar workers and 72% of white-collar employees still work from home – a year after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some sectors, almost half of employees prefer working from home. But working from home presents three common challenges: (1) mental health, (2) distractions, and (3) communication and collaboration. So how can you optimize your work-from-home setup?
1. Choose a Proper Home office / Build a Permanent Work Space
Set up a designated 'home office' – be it a room or quiet corner – to have a permanent workspace. This will help you separate work from other distractions. Decorate the office with your favorite items to make it more personalized and comfortable.
Keep a Dedicated Office Space (build a backyard office)Having a dedicated workspace is proven to increase productivity and help you focus. Consider building a dedicated workspace in your garden, backyard, or similar location, like those from Urban Sheds.
Invest in Quality Technology Equip your space with essential tools such as reliable internet, a laptop, a big screen (monitor), and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
Get Comfortable "Office" Furniture Invest in an ergonomic office chair to avoid aches and pains. It's easier to focus and be productive when comfortable.
2. Set Real Work Hours
Organize your schedule based on clients, teams, and colleagues. Avoid checking emails or social networking accounts once you've accomplished what needs to be done during your work time frame. It's vital to demarcate work from your personal life!
Discover Your High Productivity Periods Not everyone is an early riser. Some people are night owls - and that's okay. Experiment and find your unique working style.
3. Planning your daily/weekly/monthly tasks
Visualize how your day, week, and month will look. Schedule time for blocks of work, breaks/errands, and socializing. Find an organizational system that works for you.
Make To-Do Lists Knowing what to do next avoids wasting time. Try to do the difficult work first thing in the morning.
Use a Planner A planner helps break down larger projects into bite-size chunks of focused work. Avoid not knowing where to start. Plan it!
4. Create a Morning Routine [Start the day right]
Not needing to commute to the office can soon change from a novelty to an obstacle. It's too easy to stay in your PJs and just have another coffee before getting started. Be more productive with a morning routine that sets you up for success!
Set 2+ Alarms You can't predict when your morning energy will kick in, so having a backup alarm ensures that you won't start that day on the wrong foot!
Don't Start Your Work Day in Your PJs If you're working from home, it's tempting to stay in your PJs all day, but this could be holding back your productivity. Avoid it - dress casual - but get dressed!
Don’t Work in the Living Room Most people start doing this, but it is a lot easier to get distracted. Get a dedicated workspace for better results.
Hydration - Start Your Day With a Bottle of Water It is easy to forget about drinking water when you're working from home, but this can be a big mistake! Try to drink at least 8 glasses while you work.
Do Something for Yourself Before You Start Work Meditate, go for a run, or simply eat a healthy and delicious breakfast - but do something you love before work begins!
5. Create rules to follow [Take care of your physical and mental health]:
Physical and mental health are equally important! To stay productive and happy while working from home, you need to plan for your well-being!
Exercise & Stretch Regularly Do regular stretching exercises to combat work fatigue every 45-60 minutes - just walking around the room for a few minutes.
Eat a Healthy Lunch & Snacks Eat lots of veggies and whole grains, some lean protein, and some healthy fats from avocados or nuts. Keep healthy snacks with you in your workspace.
Take Breaks in Their Entirety (Short Walks, Listen to Music, Communication With Friends) Schedule breaks, just like in the office. Make the most of them to recharge - shift focus and re-energize!
Stay Focused! Don't let work expand to fill more time than it should. Set yourself time goals and stick to them!
a) Stay Away From Social Media in Your High Productivity Periods
Use your most productive time to get the most difficult or urgent tasks done. Stay off social media!
b) Avoid Family, Friends, and Pets in Your High Productivity Periods
When you're being productive - don't get distracted! Be firm, set boundaries, and enforce them!
c) Turn Off Your Phone Notifications
Possibly the biggest distraction! Turn notifications off or only check your phone when it's break time.
Create a Stress-free Zone No one can be productive for eight hours straight. Create a space to decompress after a work session. Regular breaks help avoid overload!
6. Working mode [Give your best at work]
Develop a healthy mindset. You may be at home but you need to work effectively! Creating good work-from-home habits makes it easier.
Interact with the Team Even if it's via email or Zoom calls, make sure you stay engaged with the rest of the team!
Connect with People "Face to Face" Schedule lunches and coffees with colleagues to find opportunities to collaborate. You never know what will spark that next big idea!
"Show Up" to Meetings and Be Heard If you're invited to a meeting, show up! If you have an idea, share it. Be part of the conversation and contribute.
Check-In With Co-Workers Frequently If you have direct reports, make sure you stay in touch. Also, check in with your peers to see how they are doing.
Offer Support to Others Does someone need help with a challenging project or a work-from-home issue? Be encouraging, supportive and share your experience.
7. Create an Evening Routine [Relax & Be ready for the next day]:
Disconnect from work before bedtime to get a good night's sleep. It also means you're ready for the next day and not stressed out about pending tasks.
Don't Check You Email After Work Avoid constantly checking your work email. Know what is expected of you in your job role. In most cases, it's not so urgent that it can't wait till the next day.
Schedule All Parts of the Next Day Schedule and prioritize tasks for the next day! This way you won't waste the early hours thinking about what to do first.
Be Positive Maintain a positive attitude every day. Set daily goals and work toward them to avoid feeling unproductive working from home.