The COVID-19 outbreak has made it more evident that the concept of an appropriate workplace doesn’t have to be within the confines of a traditional office environment. For the utmost safety of everyone, many organization, including ours, have been led to recommend that some employees work from home in good faith that with social distancing, proper hygiene and effective hand sanitization, the pandemic will be beaten to its knees.
Working remotely isn’t yet a robust practice for many organizations, especially in many parts of Africa. Adjusting to this new routine could be a bit challenging for employers who would still require of their employees; accountability, effective collaboration and successful execution of tasks while working from home within this period.
Hence, here are a few essential tips to help you stay productive as you work from home.
Arrange a permanent workspace
This is your very first step towards being productive while you work from home. Get a dedicated workspace in the house. It could be a spare room or designated area set up with a desk for your computer and office supplies to serve as your home office. A quiet workspace will help you focus and achieve more.
Create a schedule
It is important to set real work hours as this will give you a sense of accountability. Creating a schedule helps to establish your start time, break time and clock-out time. It will also help you to appropriate the right amount of timing to different tasks and keep track of your progress towards the execution of each task.
Maximize your high productive hours
This is no different from your most productive hours in the office. The difference may lie in the fact that it is a new environment, with fewer rules, which will require you to apply personal discipline.
So, you may need to use the first few days to understand the duration of time in which you are most productive. Are you more focused and productive in the morning or is your productive time in the evening? Do well to understand this and maximize the time for better productivity.
Make a to-do list every morning
The importance of making a to-do-list cannot be overemphasized, whether in the office or at home. When working remotely, it is quite easy to lose track of priority tasks and deadline without a to-do list.
Take the time to review and plan your tasks for the day. Not just that, set your goals with time allotted to each task. With an infusion of discipline, your to-do list would very well serve as your boss, supervisor or reporting manager breathing down your neck to get the job done and deliver on time.
Dress for work
This is by no means asking you to dress up in a suit and tie. However, this is telling you to get off your pyjamas, freshen up or take a bath if you need to and wear something comfortable. The idea is to get you to have that sense of “It’s time for business” and you will be amazed at how less distracted you would be when you do this.
Use a project management App
Most organizations already utilize project management tools for their day to day activities. If your organization is one of such, great! You wouldn’t have an issue using a project management app to collaborate with your remote team. Complex projects can be broken down into a series of smaller tasks and assigned to members of your team.
A variety of Project management apps offer both web and mobile version for easy access on a mobile phone. While some are free others require a paid subscription. Here are a few project management apps to choose: Basecamp, Freedcamp, workzone, Zoho Projects etc.
Avoid your living room
You will be doing yourself a huge favour by refusing the temptation to work in your living room. The living room belongs to everybody at every point in time, which leaves you open to a number of distractions. TV, for instance, is one of those distractions.
Exercise and stretch regularly
Some of the benefits of exercise on work performance are improved concentration, a sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity and lower stress etc. Stretches help you to maintain proper posture. Depending on what your day permits, you could walk a little or hit the gym if it’s within your home. Also, ensure your stretch regularly throughout the day.
Take short breaks
This is also important if you want to remain productive for a longer time. You could include 5 minutes’ short breaks at intervals to your work schedule for the day.
Stay off social media
We can all agree that social media can be a major source of distraction if not put in check. It typically starts with one notification popping up on your phone, to ‘you just want to quickly check to see what’s going on,’ before you realize it, you spend an hour or more scrolling up and down your timeline. Well, you don’t want that if you must remain productivity while working from home. Consider turning off notifications during your work hours and find a way to minimize access to social media.
Avoid family and friends
This may be somewhat difficult especially if you have kids around. However, you have to set clear boundaries and communicate to your family the specific work hours during which you wouldn’t want to be distracted. Also, do not forget to be fully present for them when it’s time for family.
Employ virtual meetings to check in with co-workers frequently.
Virtual meetings should be scheduled frequently via video calls or conferencing. Zoom, Google Hangout and Skype are good platforms to achieve such virtual meetings. Ensure that the meeting is well planned and effectively executed with an agenda, status updates and discussion centered around recent developments.
To conclude this, it has become pertinent for organizations to diversify where employees work in order to withstand the unexpected changes that have ensued. This will go a long way to limit the effect of the feared disaster