Let me say this at the outset: a lot of people simply aren’t comfortable with the idea of working from home. The reasons are numerous: There are too many distractions, for one. There’s the TV just a few steps away, or a shelf full of novels you’ve always meant to read. And a cupboard full of snacks.
Others prefer to have a designated environment for work which is separate from their concept of ‘home’, and they’re simply not comfortable combining the two. Yet others actually need equipment or software that’s only available in their office to do their work, and so literally cannot work from home.
Unfortunately, the #Coronacrisis has put paid to all these arguments: like it or not, we’re all working from home, probably for the near future. And it’s driving some of us crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
We’re a distributed team with members who’ve worked from home for years, so we’ve put together the simplest WFH strategies that have worked for us. These tips should help you make the best of your time, get tasks completed efficiently, and ensure you stay sane through the COVID-19 situation. (That last is not a guarantee, BTW.)
Designate an ‘official’ work area
If you’ve never been comfortable working from home, then the first thing you need to do is set aside a designated area for work. Use the dining table if you don’t already have a desk-and-chair or home-office setup.
A dedicated ‘work’ area ensures you’re less distracted, while sitting at a proper chair also takes care of your posture. Best of all? You make a clean break from ‘work’ at the end of the day.
The most important thing: When you’re in this work area, behave like you’re at the office. Some people we spoke to also advised actually dressing up in formals or semi-formals the way you would for your regular office work. That way, there’s no confusion in your mind about what you’re in that space for.
Follow a set routine
One of the biggest complaints we hear about working from home is about keeping to a strict routine. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this: you have to.
Don’t skip anything – get up on time, shower, eat breakfast, and if it helps, dress like you normally would for the office, and then head to your work space.
Try to keep to a regular work-day schedule and factor in breaks like you would at your office. This’ll help in maintaining a somewhat realistic work-life balance.
Schedule your breaks
The above points don’t mean you can never take a break. Since you’ll be skipping the usual commute and the home environment won’t really feel the same as the office, consider scheduling a workout to replace your morning commute.
Add a couple of small breaks through the course of your workday and see if you can get out on the balcony or terrace so you get fresh air too.
One important tip: make sure your lunch break is timed and you stick to it.
Connect with your co-workers
As part of a team, you’d normally meet your colleagues – or at least bump into them – regularly for various reasons.
Even when working from home, make sure you continue to connect with your colleagues over emails, phone calls or video and audio conferences.
Stay organised and focused by creating to-do lists which you can share with your team and encourage them to do it too.
Crossing items off your lists will directly help with feeling productive.
This is easier said than done, but it’s crucial. WFH may seem like the perfect opportunity to get household tasks done – but resist the urge.
Bear in mind that you wouldn’t normally be fixing a broken cupboard hinge or folding laundry at the office. Cooking lunch or watching TV in your lunch break isn’t going to work either.
Make sure you stick to your regular routine during your breaks too.
Remember: Keeping it simple always works. So, don’t try and make complicated plans. Stick to what you’d do normally and, after a few initial hiccups, you should be on top of your game!
If you like these tips or want to add more of your own, let us know in the comments, and make sure you follow us on LinkedIn and check our blog for more such posts!