Working from home was on the rise long before Covid-19 made it necessary for businesses to shutter their offices. But now that so many have figured out the logistics of working from home, it looks like it may be here to stay for a lot of businesses.
Stats show what many of us have known for years: working from home increases productivity and decreases stress. (Assuming there isn’t a world-wide pandemic going on!)
So whether you’re in an employee-based company offering telecommuting, or you’re a non-employee company working from home, you are constantly looking for strategies to increase your productivity.
In my companies, employees work from home three out of five days. While in-office days allow us to collaborate on big projects and strategize on upcoming ones, the bulk of our work gets done while in the comfort of our own homes.
Here are the to 4 things that I do to make sure I stay focused and uber-productive:
1. Have a dedicated, distraction-free workspace
I have young kids at home, plus pets, plus a wife. Hectic does not begin to describe my home.
But I carved out a home office in my basement that is my undisturbed work zone. When the door is closed, it’s as if I am not home at all. Of course, it helps if your spouse agrees to this maxim…
If you can’t dedicate a whole room for your office and find yourself working in a common space, then invest in noise blocking headphones, position your desk so it faces a wall or window rather than inwards where you’ll make eye contact with family and pets. Nothing kills work faster than the raised ears and droopy eyes of your neglected pooch.
2. Come up for air
I find this is especially important if you do have young kids and a spouse also at home during the day.
Schedule short breaks in your day to surface and spend time with your family. Not only does it re-charge you, it also helps you keep your work hours off-limits. I believe it’s called compromise…And I have to say that reading to your kids or wrestling with them is a far more enjoyable coffee break than gossiping with co-workers!
3. Invest in your technology
Working from home hinges on your technology. Your computer, phone and internet connection are your lifeline to productivity. So don’t skimp on your router, your wifi, your computer, your monitors, etc.
You will lose huge amounts of productivity if your day is spent dealing with slow computers, dodgy internet connections, or fuzzy phone calls. Plus, you can quickly lose business if communication becomes unreliable.
This is especially true if you are video conferencing frequently. Speak with your Internet provider about the speed of your service. Depending on how many devices will be connected to the Internet at once, you may want to upgrade your service so you can avoid the potential for video lag, staticy audio, and dropped meetings.
4. Schedule physical activity
When you work in an office, you spend a lot of time walking around. There are often greater distances between where you sit and the bathroom, the coffee machine, the lunchroom, etc. Plus, it’s so nice when you can get up and have an impromptu in-person meeting with your colleagues.
When you work from home, you do this a lot less, hence it being more productive than an office setting. However, the downside of working from home is that you may find yourself sitting for hours a time staring at your screens.
This isn’t healthy for you – physically or mentally. Even if you have a stand-up desk at home, you need to step away and get your body moving every hour. Ideally, you have a block you can go walk around or kids you can play with for five or ten minutes every hour.
But even if you live in a small apartment in the city, step away from your desk and go check your mailbox or take the garbage out or just walk around. Your back and neck will thank you.
As many people have recently realized, successful working from home takes preparation and planning. However, the need to get up and running quickly sometimes forces you to make compromises that hurt your productivity.
Setting up shop at the dining room table might be expedient but it isn’t necessarily the most effective place to work. Sitting on your couch while you work might seem like a treat until your back starts to hurt and you begin missing your ergonomic desk chair from the office.
But with a little creativity, you can adapt successfully to working from home and create both a schedule and a work environment that helps you increase productivity and reduce your stress.