This means that a lot of us will be dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time. Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might suddenly feel like a whole new world.
While remote work has blurred some of the boundaries between work and personal life, some say that they’re more productive than they’d been at traditional offices. Here are some tips that will help you make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done and at maintaining your mental well-being:
Set Working Hours
When learning how to work from home full time or part time, one of the most important and basic things you can do is to create a regular schedule for yourself. It’s tempting to give yourself total flexibility as to when you get started, take breaks, and call it a day.
Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier.
In the same way that you set your work hours, schedule, communicate, and plan when you will not be available to work. For example, if you like to take evenings to spend time with family, make sure you communicate that you won’t be checking emails after a certain time. And then hold yourself to that commitment!
Arrange a Quiet Work Space
While the reasons are plenty to opt to ‘work from home’, many people still find it difficult to create a comfortable home office space, especially a quiet space for working.
A quiet place is essential when you’re working from home, because it will improve your working atmosphere and increase your overall efficiency. But how do you set up a home office that is peaceful with all the distractions?
Sometimes external sounds, such as the drone of machines or the voices of loud neighbours, can be quite distracting. These background noises will also distract your clients when you are on a call, so it is important to block them out.
Choose a room where you can close the door and tell your family that you don’t want to be disturbed during your working hours. Turn the ringer off on your mobile and ensure you are away from your landline, especially when you are attending client calls. This way, external noises are minimised and you can focus on your tasks better.
Get a Good Chair
If working from home stretches on and you want to invest the right office chair for your set-up, you should look for ones with adjustable features, such as seat height, back rest, arm rests and lumbar support. A chair that fits your body’s unique shape will naturally support you and feel comfortable, whereas a chair that fits poorly will feel horrible, because it contorts your body into a weird shape.
In the past, you could probably get away with a cheap chair at home since you use it for just an hour or two after work. Now that we all spend a significant part of our time working from home, it’s even more important to think of your home office chair as a quality investment. Durability is a strong concern. An office chair is a heavy use product that most people interact with for several hours every day. Each part, from the hydraulic system, gas lifts, base, seat mechanism to the quality of the mesh-fabric material that is wrapped around the backrest and seat should be of a high, if not, good quality.
In the long run, a good office chair will stave off back problems. Care for your body and it’ll probably be nice to you back. Not only will it save you from future expenses, but it will also help you become more productive and comfortable as your work from home.
Take Regular Breaks
One huge mistake people make when they’re working from home is not taking regular breaks. It is important to make sure you’re taking regular breaks from your work to ensure you’re staying productive and to keep your stress levels at bay.
Although you might feel like you need to prove that you’re working when you’re not in the office, that doesn’t mean you should go without breaks, as this can actually lead to reduced productivity. One surefire way to counter this is to get smart about planning your work day. Before you even start working, make sure you know what your priorities are for the day, how long you think it will take you to get everything done, and what you will work on if you have extra time.
Most people take breaks to walk around when they’re in the office, but when we’re at home, we have a tendency to just be focused, so we might forget. Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes to take a break for three to five minutes. Get up and walk around, or do some quick stretches at your desk. No matter how you’d like to spend it, make sure you take regular breaks to keep your body and mind stable for the remaining tasks.
Get Dressed for Success
It can be tempting to fall into a uniform of sweatpants and pajamas when working from home for an extended time. And while there’s something to be said for relaxing your style when you don’t need to adhere to an office dress code, some actually prefer to get dressed up to maintain a sense of normalcy.
Fashion doesn’t really exist when the world is on lockdown, but psychologists recommend you get dressed for work rather than joining those video calls in your PJs. More than just keeping up appearances, it helps to put your brain in work mode. In a 2012 paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers use the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the way that clothes can affect the wearer’s behaviour. In the study, participants who wore a white lab coat performed better, for example, in tests of their attention.
If you would normally wear a shirt to work, wear one in the home office too. Don’t skip the shower, either. There’s bracing evidence to suggest that a cold shower can boost your mood and attention.
Get dressed in the morning, make yourself feel like you’re going to work, but be comfortable.
One of the most important working from home tips is to keep your work life and personal life compartmentalized. This helps you stay productive while you’re at work, and it reduces stress when you aren’t.
Do what you can to physically separate your working space from your living space, especially if you have kids at home. Work on a space with a door you can close. When they see that it is shut, that’s a cue that you’re working and need some distraction-free time. Even the shortest distraction can kill your productivity.
Don’t have kids? Then self-isolate from that other great dependant: your phone. The temptation to spend a few minutes to browse social media apps will always be there, so better set it apart from you and keep your focus on your tasks. Besides, you may still dedicate your break time in using your mobile phone, if you really needed to.
Set boundaries between your home and work life and commit to them. When time for work is done, put your tasks aside for tomorrow and be physically and mentally present at home.
Reliable IT & Internet
More and more of us are working from home these days, and that means your home’s Wi-Fi networks are more important than ever. And let’s face it, we’ve already got enough to be stressed about. The last thing you want to have to deal with is a Wi-Fi signal that isn’t as good as it should be.
And yet, that’s exactly the problem many of us are facing. In fact, the internet and cellular data of hundreds of consumers who had recently transitioned to working or studying from home were reported to have had prevented them from getting work done due to weak or nonexistent connection.
If ever you get yourself stuck in that situation, make sure to call your Internet Service Provider and ask for assistance in assessing your connection’s status and speed. They may offer to upgrade your Wi-Fi modem or ask you to upgrade your internet plan to a much faster but costlier one, depending on their assessment and on what your work requires.
Since most devices now connect wirelessly, your Wi-Fi modem performance will impact your experience working from home. Your download and upload speed will also be limited by both the ISP service plan or package and the networking equipment you are using in your home. A slow wireless router or Wi-Fi connectivity can bottleneck your speed even if you have a great ISP internet package.
Indeed, the changes brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic forced most businesses around the world to adapt to new working arrangements. While some have already started the transition and have become accustomed to this set up, others are still in the works of adjusting to working from home.
As much as we’d want everything to go back to what they used to be like before, all we can do now is adapt and bring out the best from this experience.
Dai is a Master of Business Administration graduate of the University of New England, Registered BAS Agent and member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. For 16 years he owned, operated and managed businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry – particularly Accommodation, Event Management, and Food & Beverage Management. In recent years, Dai has worked in the Not for Profit sector, Real Estate, Motorsports, and Motor Trades industry and business services, in Finance, Administration, and Practice Management roles, before becoming a Professional Bookkeeper in 2009.