Are you working from home?
Many businesses have arranged for their employees to work remotely, as a way of dealing with the present crisis.
For many this is actually business as usual, however, for up to 40% of companies had already embraced the new technologies enabling work-at-home roles.
Perhaps you’re relishing your newfound freedom from the strictures laid down in the office?
Or maybe, perhaps, you sometimes worry your focus is tending to drift? While the isolation leaves you feeling just a touch lonely?
No matter how you feel about homeworking, these handy tips will ensure you maximise your work efforts while also remaining positive and healthy.
Don’t work in the living room – Designate a workspace
Your dream job – working from your bed!
Or, maybe, that comfortable sofa?
You know; the sort of places you tend to fall asleep on, while watching TV?
The fact is, you’ll only stay mentally focused on the tasks at hand if you’ve purposely set aside a section of your house where you sit down to work.
If you’re short of space, then at least sit at a desk or table. One that’s preferably well illuminated.
And in an area that’s quiet, too: so you can maintain concentration, as well as listen in to any conference calls.
Your family also need to understand that when you’re in the ‘office’, you can’t be disturbed.
One advantage of all this is that, at the end of the day, you get to leave the ‘office’ behind too.
Maintain a routine – Yes, that means no PJs!
Why get dressed when no one’s going to see you?
Because you’ll soon discover you’re killing your productivity.
You associate pyjamas with sleep and rest. So, even if you’re not intending to leave the house, dress for work as if you were in the office.
Well, okay: just changing into a T-shirt and jeans is better than your PJs! As long as, psychologically, it’s getting you in the right mindset for work,
If you can, try to wake up at the same time every day, just as you did before.
Wash, shower and (if you have to!) shave, like it’s all a normal day.
Now you’re mentally prepared for the day ahead!
And when you change out of your ‘work clothes’, you definitely know your work’s over.
Pretend you’re going into the office – It really does help!
How wonderful is that?
Even so, to ensure you’re feeling fresh and up the tasks in hand, it’s still a good idea to start your workday at exactly same time as you would if arriving at your office or workplace.
If you typically work nine-to-five, keep doing that too.
That is, finish your day at the same time as usual.
If you’re used to bringing in a lunchtime meal, one prepared either the previous night or that morning, continue this habit too.
It ensures you don’t get preoccupied in the kitchen.
And don’t watch TV! Or presume it’s an ideal time to catch up on household chores.
You wouldn’t normally be doing anything like that at work would you?
Plan your day – And stick to it!
With no line manger breathing down your neck – are you sure you’re responsible enough to get all your tasks completed on time?
Well just to be really sure, start your day by setting yourself a firm schedule highlighting priorities and deadlines.
Use a planner and calendar reminding you of appointments and meetings.
Structure your day.
On completing a task, cross it off the list.
It’s surprisingly fulfilling.
Overcommunicate, but don’t overcompensate
When you’re working remotely, no one can check if you’re on top of your tasks; so communication is more critical than ever.
A whole host of new technologies enable remote communication through a variety of means.
So ensure everyone’s aware of your WFH availability. And reach out to co-workers and managers regularly, just like you would in the office.
It’s a good idea, for instance, to let your supervisor know you’re keeping on top of everything by sharing your ‘to do’ list.
Yet it’s also important that, in your urge to be seen to be doing something, you don’t overcompensate by sending out message after message.
Stay positive – Put a smile on everything!
While at work, you’re engaging with colleagues all the time, whether it’s just for a quick update on a task or meeting up briefly in the kitchen.
When working from home, however, it’s surprisingly easy to spend a whole day without speaking to anyone, leading to a sense of isolation.
Regular check-ins via video conferencing ensures everyone continues to feel part of the team.
Email and messaging tech like Slack also helps.
Yet as we’re instinctively programmed to interpret tone of voice and facial expressions when we’re conversing with others, it’s all too easy to falsely assume a colleague’s remark is flippant or even rude.
Which is where emoji can play an important role.
Smile – things aren’t as bad as they might same.
Hi there! – Stay connected with colleagues
We’ve become so used to relying on emails and instant messaging that we use them even when talking to close friends.
Pick up the phone!
Have a real conversation.
Use Video Chat – Face-to-face without actually meeting up!
If you’re the kind of person who likes to see who they’re talking to, video conferencing isn’t just for – well, conferences.
You can chat face-to-face with a friend, even though they’re not even in the same county.
Trust us – they’ll be pleased to hear from you.
Don’t just sit there! – Give yourself a break
Research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels.
Even more so than less frequent, longer breaks.
So although you might flatter yourself you’re being more productive by keeping your nose to the computer screen, it simply ensures you’re tired and less motivated to complete what you’re working on.
Move around, just as you would in an office.
Stand up and stretch too – it all helps.
Let’s get physical! – Make time for other activities
Chances are, you’re sitting longer in your chair at home than you would in your office.
And how many times have you been told it’s not healthy to sit all day at your desk?
Make a point to step outside onto your patio or backyard to take in some fresh air.
At lunchtime, exercise your muscles in some way if it’s possible.
It will give a much-needed boost to your endorphins, increasing enjoyment, happiness, and interest levels.
You’ll also come back to your tasks with a fresh pair of eyes.
Create a Rewards System – Go on, you deserve it!
Short, five-minute breaks can be part of a reward system.
If there’s a task you’ve been putting off, tell yourself that once it’s all over and done with, you can relax for a moment with a coffee.
Or a snack – as long as it’s a healthy one.
There are just too many temptations lying around in the nearby kitchen.
So make sure fruit and nuts are easier to hand than crisps and biscuits!
Setting the mood – Play ambient music
Unlike TV, music can help you concentrate on a task.
Set at a modest volume to ensure it’s not too distracting, it can set the right mood for specific tasks that have to be completed.
Streaming services such as Spotify even offer different ‘moods’ you can tune into.
Just make sure to switch it off when you take a business call.
Get thinking about security! Cybercriminals certainly are
Maybe you can’t think of how anyone might be able to break your computer’s security.
Yet there are plenty of cybercriminals out there who are full of innovative ideas on how to achieve it.
So utilise the very latest innovations to beat them at their own game.
Use a business-grade Virtual Private Network (VPN) for encryption. Contact your company’s IT team for approved solutions, while also making sure you know how to report any security threats.
And as for your passwords – you’d be surprised how easy they are to crack.
All together now – We’ll get through this
Working from home is certainly no vacation: shorn of your normal resources and routines, it takes far more than an internet connection and video conferencing to ensure you remain productive.
But even so, the key strategies highlighted above should ensure you remain productive – and healthy!
New ways of working are, of course, becoming the new normal.
IBM has the innovative technologies and wide-ranging support to not only lessen the impact of the current situation on your personal life, but also on your and your clients’ businesses and procedures.
We’ll help you explore new ways of ensuring the necessary flexibility and adaptability that’s driving the responsive solutions for a rapidly changing world.
Are you ready to impellent the new systems in your and your clients’ operations?
Then discover how, working together, we can continue to evolve in these extraordinary times.