Did you know that in the United States alone, even before COVID-19, over 5 million people, representing about 4% of the total population, work from home at least 50% of the time? In fact, some experts predict that in less than 20 years, over 70% of corporate employees will be working remotely. With COVID-19 quarantine as a part of our reality today, for many, working from home has gone from being an option to the only choice we have.
So what does this mean, exactly? For starters, that it is not a temporary fad. It also means is that while it is important to prepare for telecommuting (particularly for those of you who haven’t done so yet), it is equally as important to understand how best to do so, while remaining productive and active.
What Organizations are Doing to Adapt to the New Landscape
In the last several years, organizations have taken measures to adapting to the new work –from-home structure. Of these, incorporating web-based and collaboration-focused tools into their offerings for employees and enhancing or creating new processes stand out as having the greatest impact. On top of this, additional training and assigning champions or advocates have also played a great role during this transition.
But that’s not our focus today. We’re here to look at this phenomenon from a different angle – that of the employee.
Working from Home: Separating the Myths from the Facts
Contrary to popular opinion, working from home does not mean that you work less hours or less hard. In fact, it appears that most people actually end up working longer hours as it isn’t as easy to separate their work life from their personal life. Other common misconceptions include:
- It’s much easier than working from the office
- It’s impossible to collaborate effectively
- You have full liberties to work as you see fit at all times
- Everyone can adapt to it quickly
What these misconceptions highlight is that it’s critical to understand what this new structure entails (and what it does not) before finding the best way to adopt new processes, techniques and working styles.
How Employees Can Work from Home Effectively
With the plethora of information available, we wanted to bring our insights to you.
Here are the top 10 tips and tricks we recommend you follow to ensure that you stay productive, keep a routine and stay healthy:
- Maintain a Well-Managed and Organized Calendar:
- On top of work work-related meetings, block off slots for personal tasks (e.g. lunch, breaks, exercise routines)
- Take some time at the end of day each Friday to block off time for the following week
- Plan Your Workflow to Align with Your Priorities and Your Natural Cycles:
- Prioritize your tasks based on your task and deliverable deadlines, updates you are required to provide during meetings and the times of the day you are most productive
- Set Reminders to Move Away from Your Desk or Workstation at Regular Intervals:
- Create notifications to remind yourself to get up to move around or stretch (e.g. invest in a FitBit or other movement-tracking devices)
- Set Boundaries at the End of the Day:
- Block time on your calendar and notifications to remind you it is the end of the day so you don’t keep working past your regular hours
- Shut your computer down and put your work things away
- Turn off email, messenger apps and/or collaboration tools (i.e. set quiet hours)
- Set Up and Declutter your Office Space:
- Set up your workstation in the best way to make your day as productive as possible
- Declutter and/or redecorate your workspace if needed
- Communicate with your Team Regularly:
- Schedule daily or weekly “check-in” meetings, preferably first thing in the morning
- Keep your Work and Personal Space Separate:
- Spend time in your personal space for breaks and after work only
- Wear Presentable Clothing:
- Wear presentable clothing – while it doesn’t have to be proper office attire, experts recommend refraining from wearing very casual clothes at all times
- Find a New Purpose for your Commute Time:
- Wake up at your usual time and take the time you would have spent commuting to use it as “me time” to partake in an activity that you enjoy or find relaxing (e.g. reading, exercising, cooking)
- Go for a walk to mimic your commute (if possible)
- Take “Walking” Calls:
- Take calls while on walks to give you some fresh air or a change of scenery – if going outside is not an option, even walking around your home will provide some movement
Small Changes, Big Impacts
So, there you go – a few simple tips, that when incorporated into your daily routine, can drive results. While technology continues to evolve, so will processes and working styles – with that, so will our recommendations. For the record, we are pleased to share that we do practice what we preach.