Many of us are spending a lot more time at home right now. Including the workdays. When we’d usually be reporting to our desks, we’re finding ourselves on our couches or at our kitchen tables, trying to complete to-do lists without the built-in discipline of the office.
The expectations are the same, but the environment is not. And it’s not always an easy transition.
The key to work-from-home success is to create an environment that allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Whether you are working from home for the first time or just need a quick refresher, here are some tips for creating a functional but productive work area at home:
1. Select a space based on your needs.
The home office serves a great purpose, but it isn’t for everybody all the time. Would you like to fuel your creativity, or do you prefer a quiet environment for crunching numbers? You may find yourself curled up on the sofa one day and at the dining table the next, depending on the project. Determine how you usually divide your day. For example, are you more creative in the morning? You may spend that time writing or brainstorming ideas for your latest project. The afternoons then could be a more relaxed time spent sitting on the sofa, sifting through emails and completing the rest of your tasks for the workday.
Whether you work in a home office, kitchen or living room, if there’s “stuff” around that reminds you of your household chores, your eyes will go there and you’ll get distracted. Whenever you work from home, claim a clutter-free zone. This will help you stay focused on your workload and remain more aligned with an in-office experience.
3. Get ready for the day.
Many people think working from home means sitting around in pajamas with the television on in the background. Not true! Just like in an office setting, you have to set yourself up for success when working from home. Get ready as you would if you were going into the office. Set a morning ritual of getting dressed (no loungewear!), making your morning cup of coffee and doing whatever else you need to get in the right mindset. You may also want to jot down your work to-do list for the day. You increase your chances of being productive when you set an intention.
4. Put yourself in a good position.
Some people find it easy to work in bed or on the sofa. In either case, if you’re not sitting at a table, make sure you’ve got a small one within easy reach. You might not have a host of paperwork strewn out in front of you, but you will benefit from having the space to set a glass of water and your phone. Coffee tables and side tables fit the bill for any time you need extra space. You can also use a c-table to prop your laptop up to eye level and reduce strain on your neck. In addition to finding a surface space, you’ll also want to make sure to keep your posture in check. Prop yourself up with a few throw pillows to help maintain proper body alignment.
5. Turn on the lights.
Natural light through the windows can be lovely, but it can also cause glare on your computer screen. If windows work to your benefit and the view isn’t distracting, great. If not, pull the blinds and flip on the light switch. Table lamps and floor lamps provide targeted task light if your space has insufficient overhead lighting.
6. Create a home office ambiance.
One of the perks of working from home is being able to create a personalized work area in a way you may not be able to at the office. It’s all about creating a cozy yet productive space that is perfectly suited to your individual working style. Add elements that promote a calming or inspiring environment, such as fresh flowers, houseplants, task lighting, candles or beautiful crystals.
7. Set your schedule.
No matter if you work from home sporadically, a few days a week or all the time, you’ll need to plan out your daily schedule. Establish your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day. This will keep you on track with your workload. It also sends the message to your co-workers that you have a relatively set schedule—just like you would in the office.
8. Get out.
While working from your sofa can be great most of the time, sometimes you need to break up the day. Take a 10-minute walk around the block to freshen up and to encourage the flow of new ideas. Looking for a change of scenery? Head over to your local coffee shop or library to work there for a few hours as it fits into your schedule. Or, if you know others who work from home, invite them over for an informal co-working group. This will not only help you get closer to the in-office experience, but it can also be a substitute for watercooler chats and workplace socializing.
9. Log off!
One of the most important aspects of a healthy work-from-home routine is creating boundaries. Log off for the day—and not just from your laptop. Consider developing a phrase you say to yourself at the end of the day, to signal your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work. Have a last-minute idea come up after office hours? Jot it down, but come back to it tomorrow. Just because you have access to work anytime doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. Allow yourself to have downtime to create a work-life balance—we all need it, no matter where we are working.
Working from home comes with its fair share of distractions and can be difficult to adjust to. With the current pandemic forcing millions of people to stay home, it may be even more difficult to look after your family while trying to manage your workload. However, a successful work-life integration is possible with a few tips.
Stick With Your Existing Routine To Promote Wellness
Maintaining your regular routine can help establish workplace wellness. According to Enrepeneur.com, “The real power in routines is the way they can help us build momentum, break bad habits, prioritize our lives and make us more efficient.” Here’s how you can integrate your regular routine into your new stay-at-home life:
- Go to bed and wake up at a consistent time everyday
- Get dressed and start your typical morning regimen
- Check-in with your colleagues as if you were in the office
- Don’t just pour a cup of coffee – take a coffee break
- Start and end your workday at the same time
Designate Your Work From Home Location
If working from home is new and unfamiliar, you may need to create a separate space to minimize distractions. Digital marketing author Shannon Belew explains, “You’ll want to define a professional work area that separates your business from your personal life whether you’re self-employed or telecommuting. Its location, lighting, and confinement of clutter are all important.” Take these steps to create the perfect home office:
- Designate an area strictly for work: Avoid working from your bed or couch. Instead, pick an area where you can sit upright and focus.
- Free your space of distractions: Your workspace should be set away from others. Block out distractions with physical barriers, such as a door or dividers.
- Purchase office equipment: Be sure you have all the tools needed to successfully complete your job. Equipment like a comfortable chair and wireless mouse can help boost productivity.
- Keep your workspace organized: A messy work environment can lead to procrastination or quitting on a task all together. Stay focused by keeping a clean desk.
Set Your Work Hours
While working from home offers a lot of flexibility, it can also interrupt productivity. According to Porch, “More than three-quarters of work-from-home employees watched TV on the clock at least once, and nearly 17 percent reported always doing so.” The next biggest work detractor was doing personal tasks. “Nearly two-thirds of workers admitted checking items off their personal to-do lists while getting paid. In a similar vein, over 35 percent left home to run errands during working hours.” Set your office hours, and only step away from work during your scheduled breaks or lunchtime in order to stay on task. Likewise, after your set hours, log off your computer and try to refrain from checking your work email throughout the evening.
Schedule Breaks For Yourself During The Day
While it’s important to remain focused during work hours, it can also be beneficial to take short breaks. According to Ferris Jabr, Psychology Today author, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” Successful work-life integration is all about finding the right balance. Here’s how you can integrate the two:
- Block off time on your calendar to take a break
- Set a reminder to stretch or go for a short walk
- Eat your lunch away from your workspace
- Schedule calls to socialize with your coworkers
- Stick to dedicated work hours
Use Video To Connect
Use video conferencing to connect with your coworkers. When you’re in a physical office, your colleagues serve as natural motivators. However, meeting over a video chat can have the same effect. According to Vonage’s website, “Having face time matters when it comes to building teams that can work together to effectively accomplish their goals.” Collaborating with others over video is a simple way to build meaningful human interactions – especially if you’ve found that remote work has been hampering your productivity and mental wellbeing. After all, two heads are better than one.
Create Processes For Collaboration
A solid process should give everyone the tools needed to deliver their best work from anywhere. Employees should know what is expected of them and what projects are due to avoid confusion or delays. If you don’t have a process that can be used for working remotely, create one.
- Set weekly meetings: Touch base with your team members to identify what everyone is working on and where assistance is needed.
- Document everything: The more visibility you can give your team the better. Create a shared document so people can see what everyone is working on.
- Give regular feedback: Don’t wait until a performance review to give feedback. Compliment good work and bring awareness to inconsistencies to keep the workflow moving.
- Adjust accordingly: If something isn’t working, change it. What worked before may not be successful now – don’t be afraid to create a new process.
Working from home may be an entirely new and challenging experience for some people. The key to achieving a successful work-life integration is to find what works best for you. Have confidence in your ability to adapt and try to find a comfortable work-life balance.
Home » Family Finance » How to Be More Productive When you Work at Home
With so many parents having to work from home now, there are a lot of challenges to tackle. For many, it’s how to be more productive. It can be hard enough to work efficiently at an office, now add in kids, pets, and all the other distractions!
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Up until now, you’ve always seen your home as a space for relaxing and family time. But now, you’re having to balance a work mindset alongside the comfort of your home.
The good news is, there are ways to boost your productivity when working remotely. Here are some of the best ways to stay productive and get your job done while working at home.
How to Be Productive Working at Home
If you’re struggling with productivity, give each of these tips a try! And if you’re working at home while your kids do virtual school, these are important skills for them to learn as well.
De-clutter your workspace
You will find it hard to stay productive if your workspace is cluttered. So, before you start, take time to clean up the area you’re planning on working in.
Get rid of any clutter and organize the space. The cleaner and tidier the space is, the easier you’ll find it to focus on your work.
Take breaks to get out in the yard
Suddenly being cooped up in the house all day can really crush your productivity. It can cause issues with low mood and leave you feeling less motivated to get through your workload.
By taking regular breaks and making time to get out into the yard, it can really boost those productivity levels. Spend just 10-15 minutes gardening or reading a book outdoors to help refresh productivity levels.
If you don’t have a yard, take a quick walk! Let your mind focus on what you see, hear and smell around you–instead of work. That mental break is just as impactful as the physical break.
Always prepare for the day ahead
When you were leaving the house to go to work, you had things to do to get ready for the day. You had a regular routine which prepares you mentally for work. However, when you start working from home you usually don’t really have that.
Rather than thinking you can now work in your pajamas all day, make the effort to get dressed. Create a morning routine which sets you up for work. That way, you’ll find it much easier to stay productive if your mindset is geared towards work.
Utilize the power of nature
Did you know that plants and flowers can help you to feel more motivated? Adding them into your workspace can help to brighten up the working environment. Numerous studies have shown how effective greenery can be within an office environment. So, if you want an easy way to stay productive, add a few houseplants and flowers to your home office or workspace.
You may find it helpful to use the power of scent, too. In some countries, workplaces spray citrus scents to boost employee productivity. Try experimenting with different scents to see which ones make you work more efficiently. I use an essential oil diffuser to help set the tone for work time.
Staying productive when working at home isn’t easy but it is doable. Use these tips to increase your productivity level.
Remember that taking regular breaks away from your computer are important, not just for productivity but for your health too!
The current pandemic coronavirus has locked the entire country inside the home. We are disconnected from the rest of the world, but committed to working for the office to meet the deadlines. Working from home is tough to play when compared to work from the office. The same task at home takes double the time of the office. Is it a case of you as well? Of course, you are not alone, with many distractions and deviations at home, many people are spending more time completing their job at home than that of the office. Here are a few ways listed out to help you stay more productive when you work from home.
The professional working environment is what many people look for in increased productivity. Even raising a number of freelancers to look for professional working space, so they choose to go for coworking spaces over work from home options.
7 ways to stay more productive when you work from home
- Create a professional work environment at home
- Have clearly defined work hours
- Keep away from distractions
- Get Organized
- Incorporate the best technology
- Cracking Productivity
Create a professional work environment at home
Though it sounds vague, it helps you stay more productive. The workplace should be just a room behind closed doors, and it should be free from distractions like the fridge, bed that tempts you for sleep and avoid children roaming around if possible. Also, set up an ergonomic work chair and table rather than a sofa that triggers backache working for long hours.
Have clearly defined work hours
Though you are ought to work from home during these pandemic times, you should clearly define your working hours at home and stick to them. This will get you most of the work done and have time for your family too. It will be easy for you to make a transition when the offices are open again. If you are handling a collaborative role in the office, sticking to the work timings of your coworkers will make the job easy for you. On the whole, you should have control over the work environment and treat yourself as an employee though you work staying at home. Communicate with your family or with the people you live with to cut the boundaries during the working hours so that you can be more productive.
Keep away from distractions
Distractions are the most possible cause of low productivity while you work from home. It is quite a bit tough for the people who are not used to it. You have to bear with the usual after office circumstances while you work now. It is human to get carried by distractions while you work. It is okay to take short breaks from the work as you do in the office but, don’t get it the big household works that make you lose sustained focus on the work. During these pandemic times, news can be the biggest source of distraction. Though it is good to stay informed, scrolling too much into the news can throw you into an anxious mess. Have a scheduled and planned break so that you don’t get immersed in the things forgetting the work completely.
There are certain things at your workstation to enable you to do things right. Have these things like place pens, notepads, laptop charges, and phones in place so that you don’t have to get out of the work all the time to get the needed things. You can also plan to invest in noise cancellation headphones. Figure out who will take care of the children during work hours as they too will stay home if both husband and wife are working from home.
Incorporate the best technology
As you need to communicate with peers regularly, ensure you have the best technology in a place like well connected Wi-fi, the best technology to communicate with each other like hangout video calls and voice calls. There are many work organizing tools and project management tools you can take help from to be productive while you work from home.
Communication is vital for being productive while you work. If you are in a managerial position, keep motivating the team by giving performance feedback from time to time. If possible, give adequate face time for the team member to clarify and guide them on anything related to the completion of the job task for the day. Even the employees of the organization also should prefer going for voice or video calls with the team members or lead instead of mails to let them know you are taking work from home seriously. The manager should indulge in sharing more information with the team ye than regularly and provide the technology needed.
Cracking productivity while you work from home is the biggest challenge. Don’t expect to achieve this on the very first day. Take time to settle down, especially when you are not used to it. Schedule the tough tasks in the mornings and handle the calls in the afternoon to make things easy for you.
Working from home seems great — but can also be a productivity nightmare.
Working from home has its perks — but it can be bad news for productivity.
As the list of companies mandating employees to work from home to stop the spread of coronavirus grows, you might be wondering just exactly how you can stay sane if it happens to you. The panic over coronavirus is already stressful enough, and the last thing you want to worry about is how to Zoom call your manager — and whether your Wi-Fi can actually handle it.
But alas, as the coronavirus outbreak shows no signs of slowing down, you could soon be in that position. Let me let you in on a little secret — as someone who’s been working from home full-time for nearly two years now, it’s not all PJs and Netflix like you might imagine. In fact, working from home is sometimes more difficult than not. There can be days when you’re distracted or interrupted every 10 seconds by family members or housemates. Or household chores like laundry or dishes could call your name while emails pour into your inbox.
Working from home has its perks — you can work in sweatpants if you want, there’s no commute time and sometimes you can be more focused and efficient. But you’ll make the most of it if you approach the day intentionally. Below are some of my best tips for working from home while staying sane and productive.
Get all the latest on the coronavirus that’s now been declared a pandemic.
Working in bed is not ideal when it comes to productivity.
Avoid working in bed
I don’t always follow this rule, to be honest. Sometimes I open my eyes, grab a coffee and immediately begin writing my latest article. But if you start working in bed you’ll likely get sleepy or have a hard time feeling truly awake. Instead, get up and make your bed first thing in the morning, just like any other day. Avoid the urge to work in your bedroom at all, unless that’s the only space where you have privacy.
If you do have to work in bed, whatever you can do to create a sense of “going to work” will help you. That means changing out of your PJs, washing your face, getting coffee — whatever makes you feel awake, do that first. Once you start working, sit up and avoid working in your bed if you’re exhausted.
It’s a good idea to treat your bedroom as a sacred space — where you only go to sleep or relax. Once it becomes your office, you’ll find it hard to avoid thinking about work 24/7. Try to set up a workspace somewhere else, even if that’s the kitchen or dining table. If you’re lucky enough to have the space, maybe you could work from a spare bedroom or home office.
Try to work from a space free of distractions if you can help it.
Avoid working where you’ll be tempted or distracted
One of the keys to successfully working from home is to pretend you’re at an office. Would you stop to do laundry, watch Netflix or do the dishes if you were on the clock at work? Probably not. So don’t work somewhere that will tempt or distract you — that means don’t work with a TV on, and if laundry or dishes are calling your name, avoid them! Get your chores done before you begin work and save time for bingeing Netflix once you’re done for the day.
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Set boundaries with other people at home
Working from home with roommates, friends or family present can be challenging. Speaking from experience, if someone comes over and sees you on the computer, they may not register that you’re working. This is true especially if that person has never worked from home before — they may assume you can do whatever you want.
It’s important to set boundaries with people around you in work from home settings. Tell everyone who’s home with you that you’ll be working during certain hours and to not disturb you unless it’s an emergency. Put a sign on your door if you have to. Doing what you can to avoid interruptions is key to staying as productive as possible.
And no, scrolling through Instagram does not count as a break. You should aim to take a break every 75 to 90 minutes, for about 15 minutes per break. Ideally, your break should involve no screens at all and let you get some fresh air. Take a walk outside, play with a pet or talk to a friend. You’ll find that you’re much more productive if you walk away from your desk and computer throughout the day.
Try to add in social activities in your day, even if it’s just a phone call to a friend.
Avoid total social isolation
While working from home can feel more productive at times when you’re alone, there is also a downside to working alone all day. I consider myself an extroverted introvert — which means I work best without a lot of people around me, but I enjoy having coworkers and connecting with others every day in real life. One of the most challenging things about working from home is the lack of socialization.
As distracting as some office environments can be, there’s nothing like having coworkers you enjoy working with and catching up with throughout the day. Make time to connect with others, whether that means FaceTiming your work husband (or work wife) or making dinner plans with a friend.
Whether you freelance, run a small business, or work for an organization that supports telecommuting, it’s important to stay productive when you work from home.
That said, there’s not a one-size-fits all solution for ultimate work-from-home productivity. The nature of your work and your personal work style will dictate how to best remain focused to get things done around the house.
We spoke with Al Gorriaran, DBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, core faculty for the School of Business at Capella University, to find out how professionals can maximize their productivity when working from home. His research and personal experience have identified three key areas to focus on.
Make Your Work Environment Work for You
Instead of figuring out the best desk to put in your home office, first ask yourself: Do I even need a home office? You might; you might not. It all depends on your personal preferences. Do you work best with lots of stimulation, or do you need sequestered silence? Maybe something in between?
Dr. Gorriaran uses himself and his wife as an example. He prefers to keep a “traveling” home office with lots of background noise. His laptop moves with him throughout the house. Sometimes he interacts with family in the kitchen while his wife cooks. Sometimes he’s on the couch. Sometimes the TV, YouTube, or an audiobook is playing in the background.
His wife, on the other hand, has a dedicated home office with a door that closes. She prefers the quiet alone time to focus and get things done.
Decide what your best work environment is and then cater your equipment and office to meet those needs. Some things to ask yourself:
- “Do I like working at a desk or at the couch? Do I like standing or sitting?” You might need to get a laptop tray to work from the couch or a desk that converts to various heights.
- “Do I like using a mouse or an ergonomic keyboard when I’m on the computer? Is my laptop touchpad all I need?” If you need special equipment, working from the couch may not be the most accommodating place to work.
- “Do I like background noise or music when I work?” Decide if you want a speaker or TV near your home workstation.
- “Do I like talking with others during my workday, or do I need uninterrupted alone time?” If you need quiet alone time, it might be best to work in a separate room with a door you can close when others are home.
Find Ways to Interact With Peers and Team Members
Staying connected to coworkers is essential to being an engaged, productive worker. Unless your work is 100% your life’s passion, most people will lose interest in a job without at least one or two personal connections. Just think of how many times you hear people saying things like, “I won’t miss the job, but I’ll miss the people,” after moving on to another opportunity.
When you work from home, you may not get many opportunities for in-person interaction with your coworkers, boss, or employees. Luckily, in today’s tech-saturated world, there are plenty of virtual ways to stay in touch.
Ways to engage with others include:
- Phone calls – Instead of shooting off another email, consider picking up the phone to discuss the project with your coworker or boss. For complex matters with lots of elements, a quick chat is often more productive and takes less time than going back-and-forth over email.
- Instant messages – Need a quick answer to a simple question? Use a message app to ask a coworker. It’s also a great way to just say “hi” when you need a little brain break.
- Video conferences – Team meetings and project planning can often benefit from seeing each other. You can connect names to faces for people you’ve never met in person and can see when someone has a point to make but is waiting for an opportunity to speak.
- In-person meetings – Don’t underestimate the impact of occasionally going into the office, if that’s an option for you.
If you don’t have coworkers or a team (as a freelancer or small business owner), consider setting up monthly lunch dates or coffee breaks with peers in your industry. The comradery can help energize you after being holed up in your home office and may serve as a stress release while you’re working on a big project. The personal connection can help you be more productive when you get back to work.
Make sure everyone knows and respects your schedule
The beauty of working from home is that oftentimes, you can pick your own schedule. That said, you need to make sure your family and coworkers are aware of your working and non-working hours.
Whether you work best while sipping your morning coffee, prefer to sleep in and let the productivity kick in after lunch, or do your best work while burning the midnight oil, it won’t matter if you’re constantly being interrupted by the kids during your working hours or pinged by coworkers when you’re not on the clock yet.
If you can share an online schedule with coworkers, make it clear when you’re working and when you’re not. Talk with your boss and coworkers about your schedule and see if they have any concerns. Make adjustments as needed and stick to your schedule.
The same goes for your family at home. Make sure your partner, kids, or roommates understand when you’re working. Get their buy-in. Post your schedule in a common space. Close your office door when you’re working or be clear that just because you’re on the couch in the living room, that doesn’t mean you can play a board game or wash the dishes right now. Working hours are working hours, and everyone needs to respect that.
On the flip side, make sure you’re “off the clock” when you should be. Put the laptop away after you’re done with work for the day. One of the main benefits of working from home is that you save time on commuting and can spend more time with the family. Take advantage of that! The work will still be there tomorrow.
Want more tips about being productive when working from home? Capella University students and alumni enjoy free, lifetime access to the Capella Career Center for career planning and advice.
Starting your own creative business and working from home is many peoples dream. Imagine being able to have control over your own time, decide for yourself when to get out of bed every morning AND how many hours you spend each day on work. What a dream! But how do you get stuff done when working from home? How can you work efficiently and productive when there’s so much that can distract you? Read on for my personal tips on how to be productive when you work from home.
One thing that really didn’t suit me back when I was having a full-time employment was to get up at the same time (really early) every morning and go to work (never heard that one before have you 😂). I’m guessing I’m not alone with this and I think a lot of us creatives can recognise the feeling that the creative flow really can show up at anytime. And when I mean anytime, I mean ANYTIME.
Sometimes I get an idea and start to create early in the morning and sometimes at midnight. And when you feel the flow you can’t just stop creating! At least this is how my creative brain works. So naturally for me, having a full-time job where I needed to get up to work each morning at the same early hour, could get really frustrating the days when I’d been awake until 3 am creating.
When I started my business I remember feeling this enormous feeling of freedom. I mean, I knew that this wouldn’t be a piece of cake and that I needed to work really hard to get my newly started business rolling. BUT I got to work with all the things that I loved to do AND I got to decide over my own time.
And that is my first, maybe a little bit cheesy 🧀 but still very true, tips on how to be productive when working from home:
Appreciate your work situation
If you have the privilege to work from home, you really should focus on appreciating it. Start everyday when you wake up to be grateful for it. AND try to remind yourself about this privilege every-time you’re having a hard time getting stuff done. If you approach your work situation with appreciation it’s so much easier to be productive, because my believes are that productivity has it’s base in motivation – and if you appreciate something you’ll get more motivated to follow through and get stuff done.
Have a work space
It’s so important to have a space that is made only for work. It can be a whole room in your home or just a desk where you have your computer and other working materials. For me this is a mindset thing – I know that when I sit at my desk it’s time to work. AND that makes me so much more productive than if I try to lay in the sofa with my laptop and get stuff done.
Chaos is kind of the opposite of productivity. If you want to be productive when you work from home, you need to get organised. Make sure you have your files organised and that you have systems in place for all the parts of your business. If you know instantly where to find a certain file or where that email from a client is, you’ll be so much more productive. There’s really nothing as frustrating and time consuming as not finding what you look for – “but you know you have it somewhere”.
Get out of your pj’s
I got this advice from a friend when I started to work from home and I seriously doubted it at first. I loooove sweatpants and all clothes that are soft and comfy – so naturally that was what I was wearing when I started to work from home. But you know what? After a while I felt sloppy and it actually felt as I never really waked up during the day. So I took her advice and started everyday with a shower and then to put on some regular clothes. Still comfy though, but not sweatpants. AND instantly I felt more inspired, motivated and productive to get to work.
Plan your days in advance
Now this is a big one for me. To make sure that I get stuff done when I’m working and don’t just scroll around online and on social media – I plan my days in advance. Actually I plan my whole year in advance. And then take it down to quarters, months, weeks and lastly DAYS. So everyday when I stop working for that day I make sure that I know what I’ll start to work with the next day.
As a remote worker, it isn’t always easy to show that you’re productive and invested in your job.
It’s not that your colleagues or manager are trying to assume the worst about you, but when they don’t see you every day, they just don’t have a ready image of you hard at work. (And if they’ve never worked remotely much themselves, it may be hard for them to picture what it looks like in practice.)
The truth is it’s up to you to show your boss how dedicated and effective you are—even if you’re sitting on your couch instead of in a cubicle nearby them.
If you think your boss may be questioning how you spend your work-from-home hours, here are some strategies to prove your productivity.
1. Be Reliable and Responsive
In an office, your boss can see, plain and clear, that you’re working away at your desk all day. When you’re at home, you can send the same message by being responsive and available online.
This means that you should be attentive to your phone, email, and instant messages throughout the day and that when you receive a request from your boss you respond as soon as possible. You don’t have to drop everything and tackle their request right away, but do respond quickly with a realistic timeframe of when that task will be complete. Many times a simple response—“I’ve received your email and this will be complete within the hour”—works great. Then make sure you follow through on that deadline.
2. Keep Updates to a Minimum
That said, don’t go overboard on the communication front. While you may think constantly updating your boss on what you’re doing and how projects are coming along is a great way to show you’re working, don’t do this. After all, your manager hired you to make decisions and get your work done, and if you’ve been given the green light to work remotely, you’re being trusted to manage your own time. Sending your boss hourly emails is unnecessary—and may even cause them to lose confidence in your ability to get the job done on your own.
Instead, meet with your boss periodically to ensure you’ve set clear expectations for your work, with hard deliverables and deadlines, and then follow through on them. Sure, occasional updates are necessary, but in general, let the real work speak for itself.
3. Be Present When You Get Face Time
One of the easiest ways to impress your boss and coworkers is to be extra engaged when you do get a chance to interact with them—namely, on the phone or during video chat meetings.
While it’s tempting to multitask (by checking your email or responding to that IM), you’re better off focusing only on the meeting at hand. If you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to ask questions, contribute ideas, and pick up on important bits of information—all things that help show you’re an engaged member of the team.
Also, try to “arrive” at meetings a few minutes early, as it’ll give you the chance to participate in the organic conversations that typically take place in person. This is your chance to ask what your colleagues are working on and share updates on all the work you’re doing, too. Plus, if you work remotely full time, the more your team gets to know you as a real person on the other end of that call or video chat, the more likely they are to give you the benefit of the doubt.
4. Don’t Pick Up Extra Tasks Just to Create Visibility
Offering to help with extra projects might seem like a great idea—you’re so productive that you have time to take on tons of extra work! But putting unnecessary tasks between you and your key goals may take away from your success. Best-case scenario, you may get everything done, but it may not be your best work. Worst-case scenario, you won’t be able to finish everything and your boss will begin to question your ability to see projects through.
Again, you’re being trusted to manage your time wisely, so be very selective about extra tasks and responsibilities you take on. If you really want to get involved with a project that’s outside the realm of your job, go for it, but talk to your boss about how you might adjust your workload to make room for it.
Proving your productivity when your boss can’t see you isn’t easy. But if you focus on deliverables, make yourself available and present, and work to build a relationship with your boss and coworkers, no one will question your productivity or commitment to getting the job done.
A lot of changes have happened in 2020. Due to shutdowns and social distancing restrictions, many companies chose to have employees work from home. For many, productivity became a main concern.
“What if I can’t focus at home?”
“Will I be expected to work longer hours since my office and home are now the same place?”
“How do I manage having kids at home and getting my work done?”
Here are National American University, the majority of our staff and faculty work remotely (starting before the global pandemic). When our team made that transition, everyone had to figure out where to work and how to maintain a healthy work/life balance. We work hard to nurture relationships and friendships with our team while working from home. Although our staff can be found all over the U.S., we work cohesively as a team. We are sharing 10 tips that have helped our team stay productive while WFH.
Set Up Regular Business Hours with Your Team
When working in an office, there is always a start time for when you need to show up and be ready to work. This shouldn’t change even though your commute is very different. Choose what time of day you and your team are “in the office” so the group continues to work together and be “on” at the same time to help each other with projects.
Establish Work from Home Rules with Your Family
When other people share your living space, it is easy to get distracted from work. Realistically, it will be impossible to go 8 hours without talking to your family or roommates, and honestly, who would want to? Develop a set of rules or systems that work with your family. Close the office door or put up a sign when you’re in a meeting or working on a project where you can’t be interrupted. Figure out what works best for you and your family and stay consistent!
Create a Dedicated Office Space for Work from Home
If you have a spare room, unused guest bedroom, or corner of the basement, create a dedicated office space with a desk and access to power outlets. For those who don’t have that physical space, it is important to create a work versus personal mindset. If you have to work from your kitchen table or coffee table, get a desk organizer that can help you quickly transition this living space to a workspace. Actively work on keeping your desk tidy with these tips.
Dress for Work Even at Home
We’re not saying you should wear a suit and tie or a dress with heels, but wear a nice pair of pants and a work appropriate shirt. When you get up each morning and change into professional clothes, it will trigger “work mode” in your brain and help you start the day ready to dive into work.
Take Your Full Lunch Break when You Work from Home
When you can’t leave to go take a lunch, it’s easy to work through your lunch break or continue working while eating lunch. At home, with everyone on different lunch schedules, you may feel the need to answer emails, instant messages, or phone calls from co-workers even though you should be on break. You need this time to re-charge and energize. Set your phone to away and create a Lunch meeting on your calendar so people know you will be busy during that time.
Leave the House at the End of The Work Day
We will preface this section by saying, leave the house for a safe, socially distanced activity. When you’ve worked your scheduled hours, but you haven’t left your at-home work environment, you can get pulled back into work. It’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. When you’re done for the day, get of the house and take a walk or go for a drive. Let your brain acknowledge the end of the day and transition into personal-life mode.
Only Use Your Work Computer for Work
Assuming your job provided you with a work computer – this needs to be kept strictly as a work computer. Not only does this help separate work from personal in your brain by associating different devices with each, it keeps you out of trouble by preventing you from looking at something NSFW. Protect yourself by keeping your devices separated!
Participate in Culture Events Remotely
Now that everyone is working from home, companies are worried that employees will no longer feel connected to their co-workers or the organization. Many companies host virtual events, contests, or dress-up days to break up the normalcy and get everyone re-connected. You will find yourself happier at work and still feeling connected when you participate in these events. We have spirit weeks once a month and our team loves them. Our social media proves that.
Participate in Video Calls with Your Coworkers
A great and easy way to stay connected with your team is utilizing video calls during meetings. Intention and tone can be lost in emails and instant messages. As humans, we value not just words spoken, but how they were said and what someone’s face indicates while they say it. Video calls fill that basic human need when interacting with your team and helps create and maintain relationships with coworkers. Protect your meetings by using passwords and following these other tips!
Over-Communicate when You Work from Home
Everyone feels overwhelmed right now. We’re all adjusting to working from home and learning how to stay connected with coworkers. The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to over-communicate and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Share your schedule and availability often and with everyone. Give consistent updates on where you are in each project and what you need from them. Everyone is busy and in new territory. Just because something is important to you, does not mean they remember it after hearing it once. Keep communicating, and your team will be more productive.
We hope these tips are helpful in staying or becoming more productive while working from home. There is always a chance that companies will transition to having their employees working remotely from here on out. Get yourself on track now so you can stand out and be productive. You’ve got this!