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Amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many major global companies like Google, Twitter, Apple and Amazon have already taken the decision to enforce remote working in order to safeguard their employees and those around them. Many governments are advising the public to avoid non-essential travel, including avoiding working in the office if possible. Whilst 91% of remote workers feel they are more productive than in an office environment, according to Forbes, the prospect of working from home can be unsettling for some, particularly if it lies outside of their normal routine. As it has been suggested that social distancing could limit the spread of the virus, it’s important to know how to get the most out of working from home to ensure the focus remains on productivity.
So how can you get the most out of working from home? We provide some tips on how to be productive and avoid distractions that can hinder your working day.
To start off, you need to ensure you have a dedicated, separate workspace, with all the tools that you need to work throughout the day. Find an area away from known distractions and make it a specific work area, this will help keep you focused on work and improve your daily performance.
Having a dedicated office space will also help you to break away from work when you need to and keep your home as a home and not an extension of your office. Although you need to maintain your focus when working from home to be productive, you also need to take regular breaks to stop yourself from losing focus. Being able to move away from your work area and take a break without the temptation to read emails or just add a final tweak to a project, will help you to stay focused throughout the day and boost your productivity long term.
Creating a workspace:
Find a space that has good natural lighting. If there’s a door, close it. This will ensure you can get away from the rest of the house and anything that could distract you. Make sure that the workspace is clear of clutter and that you have a comfortable chair to use.
Now that you have a workspace that can help you to avoid the distractions in your home, you need to avoid social media! Clearly, being constantly seen on Facebook as ‘Active’ won’t reflect well on you, but even if you are relatively strict with how often you go on social media, sometimes it is hard not to have a look at a recent notification that has come up. Turn off notifications from all your social media accounts during your working hours to avoid such distractions.
Notifications from multi-connected devices, such as Apple products that display text messages and personal emails, can also be very distracting. Unlink these if you find your eyes beginning to wander to the bottom right corner of your computer screen.
How to avoid being too social:
Unless you need your mobile phone to stay in touch with your colleagues, turn it onto ‘do not disturb mode’ between the hours of 9am – 5pm. Utilise apps, such as News Feed Blocker, if you can’t resist the urge to go onto social media platforms, and log out or turn off notifications from social media platforms.
Creating a clear plan for your day will provide a structure to keep you on track to achieve all that you want to. Structuring your day and forming a to-do list will help you to avoid distractions that prevent tasks from being ticked off. Although this might take some time at the beginning of the day, it will pay dividends when the 3pm slump hits. Make sure you set yourself realistic goals for the day, allowing you to prioritise your workload and giving you the motivation to achieve your targets. Utilising project management tools can also help you to stay on track and sharing these lists and goals with your colleagues can make you feel more accountable and more likely to stay focused on achieving them.
The following tools can be used to create simple but effective to-do lists, which can also be shared with your colleagues (the basic functionality of these is free).
Wunderlist - https://www.wunderlist.com
Trello - https://trello.com/
Todoist - https://todoist.com
Although you are working from home, this doesn’t mean that you are a one-man band. Make sure that you don’t isolate yourself from your colleagues. It is important to keep connected – don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining regular human contact for your mental wellbeing. Having open channels of communication will also ensure you collaborate effectively with colleagues, avoiding communication errors and in some cases duplication of work.
A great way to keep everyone up-to-date with workload could be to plan out ongoing tasks on a cloud-based project platform like ‘Slack’ or any of the project management tools already listed. This will help to keep the collaborative feel of the team, and you can even track how much time you are spending on each project with the integration of a piece of software like ‘Toggl’ (a handy time-management tool.) Alternatively, you could stay up-to-date with regular group Skype conference calls with colleagues, creating a similar feeling to being in an office together.
Has your employer advised you to work remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak? Although we are seeing that many businesses are already incorporating flexible working arrangements into their culture, we understand this is a challenging time. However, if you take the above steps on board you can ensure that your working day remains business as usual, and you are working as efficiently as possible, even in the midst of an unsettling time for some.
Business Insider – Companies Asking Employees to Work from Home due to the Coronavirus 2020
Forbes – Are Remote Workers Happier and More Productive New Survey Answers