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How to Successfully Work from Home

June 10, 2020 Caterina Bouras

In the past few months, working from home has gone from a luxury to a necessity. That’s a major shift in the way offices and the workforce function. This change in format has shifted everything about the way we do business, the way we interact with coworkers, and how we lead. For instance, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft were among the notable businesses making the shift early.

As anyone who’s worked from home before knows, the environment is drastically different. On top of this, we’re also dealing with increased stress and pressure from an unprecedented public health and economic crisis. It’s more important than ever to be as effective as we can be, so that we can maintain our work-life balance and quality of life as we move toward a new way of working, and deal with the many negative impacts of COVID-19.

Here are five tips on how you can optimize your productivity while working from home.

1. Set Boundaries between Your Personal and Work Life

Now that your office is also your home, it’s important to figure out how you can balance the blurred line between both. For some people, that’s as easy as using a dedicated room for your home office, while others will need more structure. Many issues can be solved with just following a working-from-home routine that works for you. Experts have said that routines can lead to better stress levels, sleep, and health in general.

Part of this routine might be, for example, getting dressed like you would if you were going into the office. This isn’t just helpful for video calls, either. This change can get you into a more “disciplined mind-set” for getting work done. If wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants results in more productive work, then stick with that! There’s no universal rule for the “best” work-from-home attire, so opt for whatever helps you get the most done.

2. Rethink Your Normal Schedule

Chances are with the new location you’re working from, your schedule is also going to need some mixing up. Some meetings might be canceled, but there might be a lot more coming your way. When you’re working remotely, communication within your team and organization is more important than ever. This will probably mean your inbox might be a little more cluttered with meeting invites.

This is a perfect time to clear out your calendar and organize it for your new schedule. Are there in-person meetings you no longer need? Take this time to reevaluate what meetings aren’t needed over video calls.

This is also a great time to try out blocking your calendar for working time. This allows your coworkers to know that you aren’t available for meetings during certain hours, so you can focus on just finishing work. Most chat applications will also let you add a status, so you can indicate that you’re busy working and aren’t available for meetings or calls. You can also try “do-not-disturb” mode on your apps or computer.

3. Don’t Forget to Brainstorm

Don’t forget to continue to brainstorm and collaborate with coworkers! If your team relies on heavy collaboration in the office, it’s still possible to do it from home. Try out group chats, video calls, and word processor services like Google Docs to make collaboration easier when you can’t be in the same room.

More of a fan of visual brainstorming? Content Marketing Institute has put together a handy list of online tools that can be used similar to how a whiteboard would in an office. Tools like Ziteboard allow you to use the app like a whiteboard and then download the results as a PNG or PDF.

Not only is brainstorming great for getting things done, it’s helpful for team building, encouraging critical thinking, and considering other people’s thoughts and ideas. Brainstorming is crucial for creative projects, and having your team practice this skill while working remotely is as important as ever.

4. Focus on Communication 

Social distancing means that communication is one of the most important things to focus on. Since it’s not as easy to just casually start a conversation with a coworker at home, it’s important that everyone makes the extra effort to create discussions. There are probably people in your office whom you haven’t talked to in weeks, so try and reach out to people even if they’re not on your team.

Tools like Slack and video calls have made it much easier to stay in touch, so don’t be shy to message someone or host a Virtual Water Cooler. In the same vein as brainstorming, these virtual meetups are a creative way to share ideas and new developments within an organization or even just talk about recent accomplishments.

5. Optimize Your Workspace

If working from home is fairly new to you, your workspace might not be exactly how you like it. At your office, you might have perfected how your monitors are set up, where your mouse and keyboard feel ergonomically best, and where you’re stashing headphones for when you need a little background noise. Why not replicate this at home?

Make sure you’re set up in a room with a good Wi-Fi connection, possibly a second monitor, and a comfortable chair. Working from the couch can feel great, until it doesn’t. Having a solid desk and everything you need within reach can make the difference between a productive day and one where you feel disorganized. You can set yourself up the night before or—if you’re more of an early-bird—an hour before you officially start working. Give yourself time to relax and not have to worry about organizing everything the first second you’re on the clock.

Above all else, don’t stress out.

These are stressful times for sure. COVID-19 has caused major disruptions to how we live and work, and this might not be the end of the work-from-home trend. Companies may opt to change their work-from-home policies, some more drastically than others. Even things including how your office is set up may change. All we can do for now is do our best to adapt and create a healthy environment for ourselves through thoughtful adjustments to the way we live and work, including focusing on our mental and physical health.

Read our other COVID-19-related content for more critical resources for leaders rising to the challenge of leading in times of change and transition.


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