A new study from VitalSmarts revealed the top five challenges employees are facing working from home during the pandemic—as well as productivity behaviors that can help you successfully overcome those challenges.
Let’s start with the chief challenges, which begin with the potential to feel a lack of human connection with colleagues (47%). Other challenges of virtual work environments include limitations in the available technology (36%), too many distractions in the home office (32%), lack of focus (29%), and feeling disorganized (27%).
But the researchers didn’t focus only on the problems; they pointed out some solutions to lead to greater work-from-home success and productivity as well. The researchers asked respondents to identify behaviors they feel have helped them maximize how much they get done while working at home, and the following seven “productivity behaviors” emerged.
1. Develop a Routine
Not just any routine will do here—the most productive people flagged adopting your former workplace routine to your new home office. By keeping things predictable and constant, you can avoid falling into time sucks like social media scrolling and constant news checks—particularly important during today’s news cycle.
For example, if you always used to take a break with a coworker at 10:30 when you worked in an office, you could set up a similar situation to connect with that same colleague via phone or a Zoom call at 10:30 each day. Regardless of how you go about it, creating a routine is hands-down one of the most important remote work tips.
2. Take Frequent, Effective Breaks
Working from home can quickly burn you out if you don’t create some intentional, well-placed interruptions in your workflow. Office work has built-in opportunities to rest and restart, including face-to-face meetings and predictable lunch hours. But at home, without these reliable cues, you can find yourself glued to your desk chair from morning until night.
When working remotely, come up with healthy breaks that work for you, such as an outdoor stroll, nutritious snack and water breaks, and scheduling time to catch up with a friend or colleague by phone or video chat.
3. Create a Designated Workspace
A remote work tip that often gets overlooked is ensuring you have a real workstation set up. Setting yourself up to work at the communal kitchen table isn’t a great strategy for productivity—you need your own designated working space to be most productive, the study found. While you may not have the luxury of a proper home office with a door, even just choosing a consistent place that’s yours to return to each day to do your work can make a big difference in how you feel and how much you accomplish.
It’s okay to think outside the box here, with the goal of some private space you can use only for your work projects. Can a backyard table be repurposed as a desk for the summer, or an area of the house that’s currently used as a guestroom be recommissioned as your home office?
4. Connect Frequently with Colleagues
Study respondents noted that communication with your work group is even more important when working remotely. Those who created regular opportunities to connect with their colleagues—both managers and coworkers—were more successful and productive.
There are many ways that employees can connect with colleagues without being in the same room as them by employing technology. Whether it’s a virtual happy hour, team lunch, or other team-building activities like virtual chess, online games played together, or video lunch and learns, leveraging these options can help you feel closer with colleagues and ease the top work-from-home challenge of feeling a lack of human connection with people you work with.
5. Wear Work Clothes at Home
Another often overlooked tip for working remotely, the study showed that people worked more productively simply by getting out of their PJs and donning professional clothes each morning.
To make this easier, adopt the same dressing habits that you used to use when you had to commute to an office. If you always picked out your outfit the night before to save time in the morning, then keep doing it.
6. Use To-Do Lists
When you’re working from home, it’s up to you to stay organized and on top of things. You can boost your productivity by developing a habit of using a workplace to-do list, as well as regularly crafting other project plans and strategy documents to keep you on track with your top goals.
Try making a daily list of your top three professional and personal priorities each day. Treat these as non-negotiable tasks, but don’t heap more than three in each category on your plate in a day. If you get more than that done, it’s a bonus.
7. Clock In and Out at the Same Time Daily
Going back to the remote work tip of avoiding burnout and creating a routine, the most productive people in the work-from-home contingent make it a point to have a clear beginning and end to their workdays. Without a self-imposed start and stop schedule, it’s too easy to let the workflow dominate your life, which ends up backfiring from a productivity standpoint. Simply impose the same work hours on your workdays that you relied on in the office, whether that was the traditional 9 to 5, or a hard stop at 6:30.
Successfully Working Remotely
By following these seven remote work tips that productive people swear by, you can get more work done at home and feel better while you’re doing it.
For more advice like this, browse our blog articles.
By Robin Madell | June 12, 2020 | Categories: Work Remotely
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