Written By: Hannah Boniface
The working world is constantly evolving, and therefore with it too, the style or way of working we find ourselves adhering to. The pandemic brought a huge upheaval to many areas of our lives and this, most certainly, did not exclude the ‘style’ of working we adopted in order to carry on. The aftermath of this can be seen today with many companies introducing on a permanent basis hybrid working or full-time remote working…
There are lots of benefits to working from home, not in the very least the gift of time we found as we no longer had to commute further than a room or two down the corridor. For many, it holds great appeal and is something the workforce now looks for when perusing job listings and open vacancies. Indeed, the benefits arguably far outweigh the negatives… Being in the comfort of your own home, saving money, and that time not commuting we mentioned before allow more time and energy for yourself and your loved ones. However, it would be remiss of us to say that there aren’t any setbacks! Not having that formal environment for your working day which, for many, so helps when wishing to get into the zone, or the convenience of having those knowledgeable colleagues around you only a stone’s throw away, and the social side of being around others are all things home-working often lacks.
What about productivity levels? In all honesty, this is probably down to an individual’s working style and needs, but I think we all find that when mixing up the space we would relax in and the space we would work it can be troublesome… So, we have put together a short list of a few tips you can follow to help maintain or increase your productivity away from making countless cups of tea 😊….
- Set a schedule
- Get dressed
- Stay connected
- Take a walk
- Designate an official home workspace
- Limit distractions
- Adjust the sound
- Create house rules
Firstly, set yourself a schedule! When working in an office you will typically have a routine that you will follow just like children do at school (it saves decision fatigue!). When you work from home this routine can fade, no arrival time into the office or set time to leave can make time quite a bendable commodity. This can mean that many people work even longer hours than they would in the office because they are not leaving at a certain time to catch their train home or to miss the rush hour traffic; quite literally working till their fingers hurt! This is when that office schedule starts to fade and when burnout can become quite a real reality…
So why not establish a start and finish time for your workday whilst at home, allow plenty of time for your morning routine, and grab that extra time once spent in the car or on the train to still read that book or listen to that podcast but from the comfort of your sofa! Perhaps, ensure the dog has been walked or enjoy time making a yummy breakfast as opposed to that slice of toast you wolf down running for the train!
Likewise, it would be good to consider your evening routine too. When you have finished work allow yourself some downtime if possible before you start cooking dinner and tackling the household chores, wind down from your busy workday like you would if you were traveling home from the office. Once you have established your schedule for working from home, let anyone living with you know and your fellow colleagues so they can be aware of when to expect you to be responsive to them or available for meetings.
Next on our list is getting dressed! As much as it is appealing to stay in our pyjamas all day especially if you know you won’t be seeing anyone that day, it has been psychologically proven that it can be difficult to feel productive whilst in your pyjamas. When you start working from home the appeal to stay in your sweats, well, it’s just a no-brainer for some!! However, after a while, many will find this can make them feel lazy and less productive in their day. Some may even feel that even if they’ve had a productive day, it doesn’t feel as such if they didn’t get dressed (dress for the task!) and switch into work mode. The feeling of ‘I never truly started’ when you skip getting dressed is quite common. Waking up and putting fresh clothes on really will help draw that line between relaxing at home and being in work mode. Albeit, you don’t need to put on your best suit to work from home (unless you would like to) but definitely putting something on that you haven’t slept in will make all the difference!
Stay connected. It’s as simple as it sounds. This is quite important for some especially if you stay connected with people throughout your typical workday in the office. Those small chats you have in-between work can really help make your day, and without them, working from home for some can begin to feel quite isolating. Sometimes you may even go through your whole workday from home without speaking to anyone. If you don’t have many virtual teams meetings or conference calls, make it a point to have regular virtual check-ins with any key colleagues. This will help with any feeling of isolation whilst working at home.
The next great tip for productivity whilst working from home is to take a walk, simple but effective. Working from home can mean a lot less movement. No longer needing to walk to the train station, or to your office building, or even that small walk to grab your lunch all add up for those much-needed steps. Feeling restless, lethargic, or foggy-brained can be relieved by a little physical exercise. (You may even be able to take a call while you walk, killing two birds with one stone!) That 10-minute walk really will boost your mental health, productivity, and leadership effectiveness.
Having a space in your home which is designated for time spent working only will really help define that ‘life-work balance’, assigning tasks to specific areas allows you to walk away at the end of the day and still find relaxation in your home. Not all of us will have the luxury of a separate space, but if you can make the space tidy, with little distraction then it’s a good start. Comfort – a supportive chair, fresh air flowing, and lots of light are ideal, as a cluttered space is a cluttered mind!
What about all the distractions, though? Working from home there are plenty more distractions that can take you away from your work than there would be in your office. Whether that be children, your partner, the washing, cleaning, or the TV. Ensure you set that schedule that has your time dedicated to working and then other times where maybe you can throw a wash on. Conversely, for some working from home could be too quiet you may be used to the lively buzz of the office where people pass by and say hello. If you are working from home and feel as though it is too quiet why not create that hum of background noise through a playlist playing in the background or the radio on. On the other hand, some may find home is too noisy with family members or housemates around, and feel as though they need to work with headphones in to keep their concentration, whichever works best for you!
Something important whilst working from home and possibly living with a partner or a housemate is to create some house rules. If someone you are living with comes home and asks, “why haven’t you done any of the cleaning up, you’ve been home all day?” can be frustrating or add unnecessary pressure. You are still in your workday just like you would be if you were in the office, so creating those boundaries to say as much is important. An opportune 20 minutes in between tasks to hang some washing is fine – after all, change is as good as a rest – but when you don’t have time these tasks should wait till your work day has finished.
Lastly, the option to work from home, utilise being in the comfort of your own space can bring immense benefits to your life and overall well-being. Potentially it allows you to enjoy your work more, be motivated, and look forward to going to work with no Sunday night dreading a 5-day commute into the office. Get the extra rest you need to push yourself even more in your role and excel… by maxing out your productivity at home!