Working from home can be a challenge, particularly when the situation is imposed on you at short notice. Perhaps over the years, you have longed for the opportunity to complete your daily tasks from your home-office setup, coffee in hand. Or maybe the thought of being isolated or managing your own time fills you with dread.
Whatever your standpoint, if remote working is unfamiliar to you you could struggle with productivity or with general wellbeing over time. Here are some top tips for keeping motivated and happy when working from home.
Establish a routine
Establishing a schedule or routine should be one of your highest priorities. Doing so will help you, your manager and your team coordinate workloads and diaries, and manage expectations with reporting and keeping in touch. It also helps you maintain momentum and gives you a structure to your days and weeks. You may be tempted to schedule your tasks at times that suit you best, and that’s fine - as long as it fits in with the needs of the company and business in general.
While you’re easing yourself into the new situation you might consider basing your home working schedule on your previous office-based one. When your routine is established you can review it with your manager to check that it is working for everyone and make any adaptations.
Look after your wellbeing
Changing from a communal work environment to a solitary one does not suit everyone. Even if you find it liberating and fun at first, it doesn’t mean that it won’t take its toll on your wellbeing over time. Sometimes we are the last to notice when we aren’t doing so well, so your manager and team members should be looking out for you, and vice versa. If any party feels that a colleague is struggling or aren’t as content as they should be, it needs to be addressed in a sensitive and constructive way.
Here are a few extra tips to keep on top of your wellbeing:
Don’t be tempted to skip lunches or breaktimes. These are an important part of your schedule and should be treated as such, every single day. Try to leave the house or at least your desk, and use the time to relax and regroup.
Try not to work longer hours than you’re used to. If you keep on top of your productivity and maintain your schedule there shouldn’t be any need for overtime. On the other end of the scale, don’t fall into the trap of logging off early. You’ve been a loyal and conscientious employee up until now so don’t spoil it!
Make sure you’re comfortable. Most of us don’t have the ergonomic setup at home that we have in the office but it’s important to make sure that your physical health is maintained. If your chair or desk at home isn’t fit for purpose, consider talking to your boss about bringing your chair home at least. Make sure you are positioned so that the top of your screen is at eye level, at arm’s length and free from glare and don’t risk contorting yourself to suit your new space. For more information on ergonomics visit the HSE website.
Keep communicating. Even if you aren’t a fan of talking on the phone, make sure you maintain good communication with your colleagues and the outside world. If you’re concerned about the lack of contact with colleagues, talk to your manager before you start feeling isolated.
Find ways to maintain productivity
Maintaining productivity can be a real challenge to home workers, whether they are used to it or not. We’ve mentioned above how this is intrinsically tied in with keeping motivated and happy as well as sticking to a schedule. It is also vital for the ongoing success of your business.
Here are a few handy tips for maintaining productivity.
Invest in a Pomodoro timer. Many homeworkers swear by these nifty little timers. Traditionally, they are set to 25-minute intervals but you can adapt to suit your project. You’ll be amazed by how quickly time goes and how much work you get done!
Use project management tracking apps. If your company doesn’t use apps like Asana or Trello already then it’s well worth adopting these, at least during times of unusual working practice. They are great for helping teams coordinate and track workflows, updates and project statuses and keep you on the same page in general.
Agree on times for team updates. This doesn’t need to be every day, though it might be wise for the first few weeks while people’s ways of working are bedded in. Ideally, you will have updates with both your manager and your team and they should be conducted regularly and with both the employee and employer’s interest in mind. Video chat is great for this, though be mindful of what your colleagues will see in the background. And speaking of which, it’s also important to…
Create the right environment. Lovely as it is to lounge around in your jogging bottoms all day, it probably won’t be conducive to getting stuff done. Plus it can really affect your sense of professionalism and blur the lines between work and leisure. You should also try to have a dedicated workspace at home to keep the distance between your personal and professional worlds.
We hope the above tips have helped you feel more comfortable with working from home. If you do end up feeling isolated or that you or your work is suffering, then don’t hesitate to talk to your manager or teammates. Any change in work situation has an impact and your colleagues are there to support you, just as you are there to support them. Good luck with your new way of working and don’t forget to share your own tips with us on LinkedIn and Twitter feeds.
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