It’s clear that flexible work is here to stay. According to a recent survey by the consultancy firm McKinsey, flexible work arrangements are preferred by 87% of employees when offered.[reference] However, not everyone finds remote working easy. It’s up to us to fully understand and capitalise on its potential, working out how it can enhance rather than hinder our productivity levels.
Sophie, a new graduate programmer, had just secured her first job in a rapidly growing software company based in Reading. Although she had previously worked part-time bar and café jobs at uni to make ends meet, this was her first proper job. Sophie’s work schedule was split into two days working on site and three days working remotely from home. She was looking forward to it – it was to be an exciting time: new colleagues, full-time working life, and lots of interesting projects to work on.
Three months into her new job, Sophie was really enjoying the interactive team environment of her days in the office. On these days, she was able to collaborate with her new colleagues, getting direction and guidance on aspects of her project work. However, she found working remotely really difficult. This half of the week, Sophie missed the camaraderie of working alongside her team in the buzz of the office environment. She felt lonely and isolated and often struggled to feel motivated whilst working from her one-bed apartment in the suburbs where she lived alone.
Sophie’s experience isn’t unique. For many, hybrid working patterns have become the new normal – they’re swiftly marking a permanent shift in how employees and organisations work.
Although working from home can have its advantages, it’s not without its obstacles. So, what are the benefits and challenges of working from home or working flexibly?
The Benefits of Working from Home
- With advancements in technology, remote working has become more convenient and accessible than ever for many employees. Some organisations find that remote working increases productivity as it allows employees to gain more focused quiet time throughout the working day.
- Where working from home suits an employee, it can improve job satisfaction and retention. This is because it can make it easier to have a better work-life balance, positively impacting employees’ health and wellbeing.
The Challenges of Working from Home
- Managing employee performance and productivity can be more difficult when employees are working outside of the office.
- While remote working has many benefits, it may not be suitable for all employees, and it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, decreased morale, chronic stress, and depression.
- Working away from the office also poses the challenge of information security risks and cyber threats.
These challenges and benefits mean that although remote working can often be a success, it can also present employers with a real conundrum. If your employees have the option to work from home, you can start by giving them these 11 top tips to increase their productivity levels when working remotely.
11 Top Tips to Increase Productivity While Working From Home
These 11 tips can help you and your employees hack your remote working productivity levels, improving your efficiency and helping you achieve more in the working day.
1. Eat well
- Making conscious choices about the food you eat couldn’t be more important. Eating a healthy breakfast every day and starting work with a full stomach can help you to maintain your energy and focus levels throughout the day.
- Try and avoid eating at your desk, as this can lead to mindless eating. Eating in a different environment away from your workstation can help you to relax and refocus, ready to work again.
2. Stay hydrated
- Drinking enough water throughout the day should be a top priority. Staying hydrated can help you to avoid headaches, fatigue, and brain fog.
3. Incorporate exercise into your day
Working from home can make it easy to neglect your physical health – it can be all too tempting to skip exercise and snack throughout the day. However, taking care of your physical health is crucial for maintaining your energy and focus levels, as well as your overall wellbeing.
- One effective way to prioritise your physical health is to make a conscious effort to engage in regular exercise. As you’re not leaving the house to go to the office, you won’t be doing any steps to and from the station, going up several flights of stairs in your work building, or running to catch your bus! While you’ll save on commuting time, going to a gym or attending Pilates classes can be a great way to add movement back into your day while also connecting with others socially.
- You could also try exercising at home or following a workout video on YouTube. You might do this before work, during your lunchbreak, or after work to form a boundary between your workday and your evening.
- Regular walking is another great way to boost both your physical and mental health. You could even track your steps and set a daily goal depending on your current levels of activity. This could mean going for a short stroll around the block at lunchtime or walking around your local park after work.
4. Get Enough Sleep
- Getting enough sleep is critical to help you maintain your physical health. Try to log your sleep and create a regular and consistent routine. Aim for at least 7 hours each night, and avoid screens for at least one hour before you want to go to sleep.
- Remember, taking care of your physical health is crucial for maintaining your productivity levels and caring for your wellbeing while working from home. Take the time to prioritise your sleep, and it won’t be long before you feel a difference.
5. Don’t work when you’re ill
If you’re unwell, it can be tempting to think that you should just ‘go to work’ anyway as you don’t need to leave your house. However, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to time off if you’re ill. Don’t put pressure on yourself to work if you’re not well enough to. This can damage your health and wellbeing in the long run.
6. Support your mental health
- Working from home can pose challenges when trying to maintain good mental health. However, there are several ways you can support your mental wellbeing while working remotely.
- One important step involves prioritising self-care activities such as as meditation, mindfulness practice, and journaling. These practices can help you identify your emotions and focus on the present moment, making for a powerful antidote to stress and anxiety.
- Another way to support your mental health is to set yourself realistic and achievable goals. Accomplishing goals, no matter how small, can give your confidence and motivation levels little boosts throughout the day.
- It’s also important to stay connected with others, even if you’re working from home. Remember to make time for conversations with friends and family during your breaks.
- Take breaks and get out of the house, away from your work environment. This can help boost your mood and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Being kind to yourself and taking care of your mental health while working remotely is essential. It’s OK if things aren’t perfect. Try to find the balance and work on it. And, if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
7. Dress for work
To set the tone for a productive workday, create a morning routine that includes getting dressed as you would if you were working in an office.
- You can still be comfortable, but dressing professionally while working from home can boost your confidence and help you make a good impression on colleagues and clients in video conferencing meetings.
- Wear comfortable clothes that allow for movement to increase productivity and reduce distractions.
- Taking care of your personal grooming and hygiene will help you feel your best.
- All these measures will help you feel more engaged and enhance your productivity while working from home.
8. Create a dedicated workspace
- Having a dedicated workspace in your home can greatly benefit your productivity levels and overall wellbeing. It will help you stay focused and motivated by separating your personal and professional life.
- You should also aim to have all the necessary tools and equipment that you need to complete your work to hand, such as an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and any other equipment. Incorporating ergonomic principles into your work area can help prevent discomfort and injury.
- You should conduct regular display screen equipment assessments with the help of professionals to allow you to identify and rectify any potential issues which might cause you musculoskeletal problems.
- Keep your workspace clean, clutter-free, and organised – this can help reduce distractions and increase focus.
- If possible, set up your work area in a bright, airy room with lots of natural light, as this can help boost your energy and productivity.
- By following these tips, you can create a dedicated workspace that will help you stay organised, increase your productivity, and safeguard your overall wellbeing.
9. Make a schedule
- One of the most important things you can do to increase your efficiency while working from home is to make a schedule.
- Setting a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule can help you to stay on track and make the most of your time.
- Creating a to-do list that you can refer to throughout the day can also help you to stay organised and focused.reference Break your day into blocks of time and use each block to concentrate on a specific task or set of tasks.
- Use tools and techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method that involves breaking down your work into 25-minute blocks called ‘Pomodoros’. These Pomodoros are separated by short breaks to increase and stabilise your productivity levels.reference
- Have a calendar and set reminders for your tasks. This will help you stay on track and remain focused on your goals. You can also use digital organisation tools like Trello, Asana, or Todoist to organise tasks and track progress.
- One of the best ways to create a successful schedule is to break down large tasks into smaller ones and set deadlines for yourself. This will help you to stay focused and avoid procrastination.
- Remember, making a schedule and sticking to it can help you to increase your efficiency and achieve your goals while working from home.
10. Avoid procrastination
To avoid procrastination, it’s important to be focused on your schedule.
- Identify and eliminate sources of distractions. This could mean closing advertisements on websites, shutting tabs you’ve been using for online shopping, and taking steps to control excessive social media use. One way to manage distractions is to turn off notifications on your phone or use noise-cancelling headphones.
- Reward yourself for your successes, no matter how small! This will help keep you motivated and stop you from procrastinating.
- If you’re struggling, use a timer to dedicate a set amount of time to a task and work on this task only during that time.
- Limit multitasking, as it can lead to scattered focus and decreased productivity. Instead, focus on one job at a time and give it your full attention.
- You can also try changing your environment to help you focus on the task at hand. Consider working in a different room or location or even just changing your seating position. This can help break up the monotony of your routine and prevent boredom, which is often the gateway to procrastination.
- Finally, it’s important to remember that it’s normal to procrastinate sometimes, and it’s not a sign of failure. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just acknowledge the procrastination and try to find what lies behind it. This will enable you to work on ways to overcome it.
11. Set boundaries between your personal and professional life
Working from home can be an excellent opportunity to increase productivity, but it also has its challenges, especially when separating your personal and professional life.
- If you live with other people, communicate your work schedule to them. By doing this, you can minimise interruptions and distractions and ensure that you have the time and space to focus on your work.
- Similarly, communicate your schedule to your work colleagues. Set specific times during the day when you will not be available for work-related tasks or communication, and try to stick to them as much as possible. This will help you to power through your to-do list.
- It’s also essential to avoid getting carried away with household tasks during work hours as these can be major distractions that can pull you away from your work and negatively impact your output. Instead, try to schedule your household tasks outside of your work hours, so that you can fully focus on your work during the designated time.
- Disconnect from technology and notifications during free time to help focus on the present and enjoy the moment. This will allow you to recharge and return to work feeling refreshed and energised.
Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance and maintaining a clear separation between your work and home life.
Maximise Your Potential While Working From Home
Working from home can be a great way to increase efficiency, but it can also be a challenge if you don’t know how to use it to your advantage. It’s all about knowing how to maximise you time without compromising on your professional life or your personal life. With the correct mindset and strategies, you can achieve great things while working from the comfort of your own home.
Follow the tips above and embrace the flexibility, autonomy, and opportunity that comes with shaping your own working style, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy and fulfilling work-life balance.
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- Manipulate Time With These Powerful 20 Time Management Tips, Forbes.
- 5 surprising benefits of walking, Harvard Medical School.
- Taking Breaks, The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- How To Set Strong Work-Life Boundaries As A Remote Worker, J Mesh.
- What a Year of WFH Has Done to Our Relationships at Work, Harvard Business Review.
- How to say no to your boss and still be a team player—and other ways to set boundaries while WFH, CNBC.
- The Pomodoro Technique Explained, Forbes.
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