Would you believe if I say that working from home is the most productive way of working? Well, that’s true based on research done by Jabra in 2018. Also, there was a study about this by the Stanford researchers about call centres and it was found that employees at home were on average 13% more productive.
The situation and environment are of-course different for different job types and it will surely have an impact on this matrix. But if we have a proper plan and follow certain tips, the story will be the same everywhere. I usually hear a lot of complaints and rumours about the ineffectiveness of working from home, particularly in the IT field. Here are a few tips which I follow for improving my efficiency whenever I work from home.
1) Start early or prepare your meals the night before
Whenever you are working from home, you will have to deal with a lot of distractions. If you don’t have a helper or someone else to assist you with cooking, this is something which might distract you a lot from working at home. You may end up spending your break time or productive hours with chopping vegetables and cooking something for your family. To mitigate that, I try to cook and prepare my meals the night before, just like I would for a day at the office or else I start my day a little early and make everything upfront before starting my working hours.
2) Be ready to start
The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive. When working from home, do all the things you’d do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and wear nice clothes. I would also recommend setting a SMART goal for the day. List down the objectives that you would like to accomplish by the end of the day which should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive. This will help you keep you on track.
3) Be ready to be your own boss/manager
Don’t forget the fact that whenever you are opting for work from home, you will have to be your boss/manager. Make sure you have a personal calendar with all scheduled meetings for the day so that you can attend those without fail. Segmenting things like what you will do before this meeting or what you will do after a particular meeting etc. will help you to stay on the schedule and effectively utilize your time. Sharing your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day in-advance could help your co-workers to know your availability. Create your schedule around when the majority of your team is online and when you’re most productive.
4) Fix a spot and set up your workspace
Finding a peaceful and perfect spot to work is a vital part of productively working from home. As per the psychological facts, after repeatedly using something for a certain purpose, our brain begins to associate an object with a purpose. When you work from bed one of two negative things will happen: you’ll tend to fall asleep while working or at least get sleepy while working or your brain will begin to disassociate your bed with sleep, making it difficult for you to actually fall asleep.
Just because you’re not working at an office doesn’t mean that you can’t, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch, dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Always try to find a place that has limited noise and lots of sunlight. If the sunlight cause glare on your computer screen go for some artificial lights with less shadow but I would prefer natural lights only.
Having a consistent ‘workspace’ helps you get into the right frame of mind.
5) Get high-speed connectivity and some cool gadgets
One of the most important things that you need to ensure before choosing work from home is your internet connectivity. You should have a high-speed internet connection for smooth working. Setting up a few gadgets in your home workspace will help you to turn up your productivity level. For eg.
A laptop stand will keep you from bending down and is also good for your posture and health.
Headsets will help you to avoid distractions in your calls and stay focused.
Having a dongle will helps you keep connected even if some network issue happens. Better if both are from different carriers. You can also make use of your smartphone to tether and use it as a hotspot.
A power UPS to deal with unexpected power supplies
6. Make a Clear Line of Communication with Colleagues
Since you are not available in the office, it’s really important that you should always be in contact with your co-workers whenever they need you for something. Having a good communication practice within the team and others in office is one of the key things which we should always focus on while working from home. Also, finding the right tools to keep you and your team connected is important for staying productive at home.
At Bridge Global, we use Google Chat/Skype to keep conversations going remotely; Trello/Jira/Gitlab to keep us organized around priorities; Google Drive to collaboratively work on documents and to organize them efficiently; and Google Chat Hangouts plus Meet to make remote meetings more productive. Getting the right stack of support tools to fit your work style makes a big difference.
It’s also recommended to set the status to let others know if you are Available / Busy / Away etc.
7) Avoid interruptions and distractions which affects your schedule and productivity
There is a lot of chance that you will come across several interruptions when you are working from home. All these interruptions are productivity killers. Normally your family and friends can be the most frequent sources of interruptions when you are at home which will result in losing your focus. To avoid this, you need to share your schedule with the ones whom you think might cause distractions and make necessary arrangements to avoid those. Try explaining to them when you’ll be working. Describe how you work best: Whether that’s “interrupt me at will” (probably not) or “only interrupt me if it’s truly an emergency” (more likely). Above all, don’t assume people will automatically respect the fact that while you’re working from home, you’re still working. They won’t. Help them understand. That’s all you can do to the maximum.
8) Plan your breaks and make use of it
Work from home doesn’t mean that you should be available full time, because that is not even possible even when you are in office. Nothing should prevent you from taking a break to relax or focus on some other household tasks for a while. Rather than looking into Instagram, Whatsapping or just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, however, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house like your baby which might be the reason you are taking work from home.
You can make and eat some small snacks or salads or juices which can recharge you to do better work. Don’t assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you’re home to be more productive. The only thing that you need to ensure is that you have left the status in your slack/chat that you are away, will be back in 10–15 mints and in-case of any emergencies contact on your phone.
9) Finish your day as per your scheduled time and log Off
You will have an impression that working from home helps in a better work-life balance. Well, that is true, but to an extent only. I would rather say to be careful with that thought. Working from home can also be like you are in a shopping mall or a casino — you can get so caught up in your activity when you are in a relaxed environment which will let you forget about the time. Setting a boundary line is very essential for almost all things in our life. Same with working from home as well. Just because you have access to work anytime doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. Maintaining a boundary is important for both halves of the equation.
Working from home is a privilege that you get as a result of the trust that the organization is putting on you. It’s your responsibility to keep up that trust and do well to meet their expectations in the maximum possible ways.
Originally published at https://www.bridge-global.com on July 9, 2019.