Working from home can sound like a dream come true to many entrepreneurs seeking to escape the dreaded 9-5 grind. After all, remote workers have the luxury of being able to choose where they work, when they work and what they wear while working. They manage their time, become their own boss, and experience a whole new way of life. However, remote work isn’t for everyone, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced the majority of Australians into this situation whether they like it or not with 88% of organisations recommending their staff work from home
Even the biggest proponents of WFH are now realising that, coupled with social distancing throughout society, it can be extremely isolating, stressful and demotivating. So let’s look at some of the top tips to make remote work a success for you.
1. Schedule effectively
While it’s great to have more flexibility about how you manage your work schedule, it’s easy to neglect the need for a structured schedule and become unproductive and distracted. You might need to work the same hours you did in the office, in which case try to stick to the same routine as the familiarity can be soothing and help you to focus. If you can plan your own hours, consider the times you work most productively.
Whether it’s an online calendar, a chore list or even an accountability partner, make sure you create a structured schedule that works for you and maintains balance in your life. If you’re finding it difficult to find your focus, simple productivity methods such as the Pomodoro technique can help you make inroads into bigger tasks, while implementing the kanban system can help you manage your personal workflow.
2. Carve out a productive workspace
It might seem logical to work from your kitchen table or couch, but this can result in distractions and interruptions that can impact your workday and throw you off schedule. Particularly if you have a family that can’t attend school or work.
Remote work requires concentration, dedication, and motivation so do your best to find a zone that minimises unnecessary distractions. Setting up a private home office in a room which can be considered off-limits by the family is crucial for remote work. Make sure you have a suitable desk, ergonomic chair, work lamp and additional monitor if necessary. If you need to share with your partner, draw up some ground rules about who uses what space and when, and what helps you both to concentrate. Then respect each others’ needs and boundaries.
3. Switch it up when you need
Working from a laptop in the same environment you spend every other minute, every single day, can be fatiguing. This is a challenging part of being a remote worker during COVID-19, but there are simple ways to switch up your environment. If you are working from a laptop, try setting up a makeshift office in the garden, at your breakfast bar, in the conservatory or in the shed/garage.
There are a few simple tools that can ensure you’re still practising good posture: invest in a portable laptop riser and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard so you can get the same desk effect wherever you are in the home. If you need to stay in your office, remember to open a window from time to time to encourage the airflow you need for productivity and sharp thinking. Burning essential oils and listening to relaxing music or white noise through your headphones can also help improve your concentration and switch off from other household distractions.
4. Remote does not have to mean isolated
When making the major change from the office to the home, it can be daunting, intimidating and somewhat lonely. Set up remote video conferencing and chat suites to ensure you can maintain effective communication with your colleagues. Programs like Zoom, Slack, Skype and Google Hangouts can help you remain more connected with your peers and keep you in the loop.
By setting up video and communication channels with other remote workers, you’re creating a team environment that can support each other while you collaborate and reduce isolation stressors caused by working from home. This applies outside of work too. Schedule evening or weekend Facetime or Skype calls with your colleagues or friends who are also working from home. They may have good tips they can share with you as you relax with a glass of wine.
5. Dress to impress
We can all think of the stereotype of remote workers logging on from their bed. Try to avoid joining that group. When you are a remote worker and working from home wearing a uniform might not be a requirement, but it can help you to focus and designate that part of the day for work. There’s no reason you can’t wear the same clothes you would have worn in the office, and even do your hair/makeup or add a splash of fragrance if it gets you into the professional mindset. Simply going through the same routine to present yourself well will make you more confident and prepared for anything your day brings (including impromptu conference calls) and reduce the chance of falling into unproductive patterns.
6. Take regular breaks
Having a full day of working from your computer remotely can strain your back, eyes and cause mental fatigue so be sure to schedule regular breaks during your projects.
Take half an hour at lunch or after work to get your recommended exercise or to simply do some yoga or workouts in the garden. This is even more important now you can’t get to the gym. Both the sunlight and the physical exertion will help sharpen your focus and mean you’re sufficiently worn out by evening to sleep well. Try to eat well and at regular intervals (rather than snacking). Most importantly, remember to switch off and don’t work longer than usual.
Adapt With Time
Working remotely isn’t for everyone. It can be stressful and challenging for the best of us. We’ve taken the top tips on remote work and hope that they will simplify the process and set you on the path to success during the lockdown period.
If you want to learn more on how we can assist with businesses staying afloat, get in touch with Design Point today for ways to pivot your business marketing strategy.