During these times when people across the globe have been told to stay indoors due to COVID-19, working at home may prove to be a challenge.
According to a 2012 study by the Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization, several people reported being more productive with certain tasks when they were done in a structured environment. However, the home is often the last place you find that semblance of structure.
Workers need to adapt to the temporary circumstances. While you may find yourself back in your office space in downtown Orlando or elsewhere after some months, it’s important to find ways to cope and still deliver, in the midst of the current situation.
What are some helpful tips you can do to boost productivity while working remotely?
1. Create clear boundaries
Since the home is less structured compared to the usual setup of an office, you have to set clear boundaries for work to begin and end. Find the optimal schedule for you and stick to it. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should forget about breaks. Schedule some time to take a break from work for your meals and rest periods.
To help you get started on actually working, carve out a space in your home that you can dedicate entirely for work. It can be a portion of the living room, or a small table by the kitchen.
If you have a spare room that you can use, this is the ideal option. The action of opening and closing the door allows you to physically get to work and end your day.
2. Minimize distractions
Working facing the TV or next to the game console is not generally a good idea. This setup may tempt you to spend a few minutes here and a few minutes there on leisure, when you actually should be finishing up your work. There is a danger of seeing those “few minutes” turn into hours. Other types of distractions might also be lurking, such as your mobile phone.
If you’re not disciplined enough to say no to temptation, it’s best to put these distractions away from sight. Put them in a separate area, out of reach while you’re working.
3. Schedule regular alignment sessions with the team
It can be hard to address task uncertainty when you can’t physically tap a team member on the shoulder.
Make a point to schedule weekly virtual meetings or daily virtual scrums (whichever is appropriate) with your team to set the right expectations on deliverables. The lack of clear expectations may lead several workers to procrastinate excessively or be unmotivated to work.
In addition, use these meetings to connect with your team and empathize with each other. Recognize the difficulties that you all might be experiencing and find ways to work around them together.
4. Allow for interruptions
It’s impossible to totally avoid interruptions at home, be they from your landlord, kids and other family members. Don’t try to achieve perfection—nobody was prepared for this situation.
The best thing to do is clearly anticipate potential sources of interruption, carving some time to accommodate them. If your parents need help with chores, for instance, carefully explain to them that you can help during your break or after work. If you have kids in the house, it’s important to balance their need for attention with your need to focus on work.
Whatever the scenario, clear communication and flexibility are vital
Regardless of your home situation, the important thing is to set clear expectations with everybody as to the times you are available for them. If there are times when things don’t go your way, don’t get too frustrated. Be flexible and work towards solutions that are most beneficial to you and others.