Work-at-Home Ground Rules to Boost Your Productivity


In the midst of the new COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge; working from home for the first time, full-time. Even if you’ve done it before, working from home might feel like a whole new world. These tips will help you make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done and at maintaining your mental well-being.

Create a Productive Work Environment

A separate home office with a door is ideal, but whatever your workspace, make sure this area is reserved for your professional activities. It will make it much easier to leave work at the end of the day and not let it encroach on your family life. Make your workspace comfortable with a chair you can sit in for eight hours a day (but don’t forget to get up and move every now and then). Find an area with good natural lighting and away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Avoid working in your bedroom, if possible.

Establish a Routine

The idea of working in your pyjamas all day can be appealing, but you may be more productive if you take a shower and dress up as if you were going to the office. You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done.

Work Regular Hours

Just because you're at home doesn’t mean you don’t have to be on time. Plan your workday as if you were in the office. Stick to fixed office hours, whatever they are. Consider that you are "on the clock" during these hours to clearly define the boundary between work and family life.

If you’re working from home with kids, let your employer and colleagues know what hours you'll be available. They'll be more understanding about your flexible working hours and family interruptions if they know about your situation ahead of time. Make sure your kids also know the difference between your working hours and your free time.

Manage Your Time Efficiently

Working at home makes it easier to get distracted. It is important to manage your time and priorities. Every morning make a list of to do tasks and rank them in order of priority. Organize your work week by setting goals.

Don’t Get Too Sucked into House Chores or the News

Distraction is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. Suddenly, household chores, kids, and easy access to a TV can easily take you away from your desk. And right now, one of the biggest distractions is the news. If you’re working remotely, checking in on COVID-19 updates, and watching the Prime Minister’s updates is going to be at the front of your mind.

Staying informed or throwing in a load of laundry is fine, but try not to look at your new work arrangement as an opportunity to finally clean out that closet or get too immersed in the news and forget that you’re at work altogether.

Reduce optional distractions that don't require your immediate attention. They will still be there after work.

Stay in Touch With Your Co-workers

Communication is essential. When you work from home, you will not often see your boss or colleagues, so it is important to contact them frequently. And you don’t have to stick with only text-based communication. Instead, try scheduling daily phone calls or video conferences. This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.

Take Breaks

Take a few minutes during the day to relax. “Get lunch” with colleagues and friends by setting a time to video chat while you eat, grab a coffee or go for a quick walk. Remember that breaks should be both mental and physical, so try to spend that time away from your workspace to recharge your batteries before returning to work - the rest of the day will be much better. It is not always easy, but necessary. These small breaks are essential to keep your brain focused. It’s important, however, to keep your breaks to a set time limit.

Focus on The Silver Linings

If working from home is new to you and you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, focus on the many benefits it offers instead. It can improve productivity, reduce distractions, reduce stress, improve work satisfaction, lower the time (and cost) you spend commuting, give you greater sense of control over your workday, and can even help to avoid challenging colleagues!

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