Author: Frederick Ezekiel Pasco
In recent times, and especially today because of the economic impact of the coronavirus, working from home has been on the rise. Even if we are fast-tracking the creation of a vaccine, one would not come until early next year and even then, the effects of the vaccines would not be immediate. This means that working from home is here to stay and will probably be an option that employers continue to offer to their current employees and future candidates when it is feasible to do so.
The best remote work perk is, as you might have guessed, working from the comfort of home. Though one of the biggest misconceptions about working from home is that people think it’s a vacation or an excuse to do less work. Research shows that productivity for most workers actually INCREASES when they are working remote. That is not to say it doesn't come with its own trials and tribulations, but a few key tips can help you maximize your work from home efficiency.
Build a Routine.
Less time in traffic should mean more productivity, right? Not if you sleep in and wake up at different times of the day during the week. Remember, you’re still working. If you need to clock in at 9 AM, then wake up at 8 AM, take a shower, make breakfast, and drink that cup of coffee you’ve been dying to take a sip of since you opened your eyes.
Do you feel like you’d be more productive after a 30-minute nap midday? Then take that nap! (Just ask your manager know first) Do you need to make yourself another cup of coffee after lunch? Go ahead. But the more you stick to something that you’ve always done at work, the better your work-life balance at home will be.
One of the keys to successful remote work is to remember your hours and your deliverables. It’s best to plan ahead. 10 minutes after clocking in for the day, it should be clear to you what you need to accomplish by the end of the day or even by the end of each hour. Keeping track of your expectations and what must be accomplished by end of day is the best way to keeping focused while working at home.
Maintain a Steady Communication Stream with Your Team.
While lunch excursions with your coworkers may be a thing of the past once you begin working remote, that doesn’t mean that you cannot interact with them anymore. We are social beings. Building and maintaining open lines of communication with your team could mean a lot less time figuring out who needs to do what and what is not done yet at the end of the day. While you can’t go to their desk and ask for help, you can always shoot them an email or a message.
One way to make and maintain connections? Offer to host a lunch-time zoom meeting so that you can feel like you're joining your coworkers for lunch! You’re working from home but you’re not alone.
Speaking of sending messages; To build an effective communication stream your coworkers need to know what mode of communication is best to reach you at. Keeping it professional through email is often the best option for most communication, but we all know that sometimes there are problems that need immediate attention, and shooting a text or sending a slack message can be a much quicker and easier way to get an immediate response than crafting an email.
Are the kids asking you to play catch during the day? Is your favorite movie playing at 2 PM? Are your friends asking if you want to catch up after breakfast? Say no. You should set an expectation to everyone that even if you are around more in the house this does not mean that you do not have responsibilities outside of it. It might be best to shut off the social media apps after clocking in, assuming they are not required for your work. Also, keep the TV off. If you have access to a specific workspace, such as a home office or studio, make sure to use it, and make it clear that while you are in that space you are at work and should not be disturbed barring an emergency.
It’s tempting to just shut off your laptop when the situation goes awry or gets stressful. Working from home eliminates wasted time in traffic and many other spent resources normally needed to get to the office, but it does not necessarily remove your tendency to waste time. It all comes back to building your routine and sticking to it. If you can manage your time efficiently, then you can get your deliverables in on time, or even early, and have more time for the other aspects of your life!
Working from home is amazing. Trust me, I’m doing it as I write. But it’s not for people who cannot trust themselves to accomplish anything without any form of supervision. It takes an incredible amount of discipline and focus to get up and fire up your laptop even when the call of your bed is stronger than your battery life but working from home is going to be very much alive and well for the foreseeable future. As the lockdowns can attest, working from home works; just remember to work.