Remote working was a term many employees viewed as a desirable perk, but in many current conversations on the topic you can find as many people who now loathe it as relish it.
Dig a little deeper and some common themes arise, most notably feelings of isolation (a topic our CEO discussed recently in relation to building great working cultures), and maintaining productivity and happiness when you’re permanently excluded from the office.
So how can you overcome the productivity hump, and ensure that your time remote working is productive and that you’re happy? We’ve put together three key ways you can avoid becoming burnt out and disengaged while working from home.
1. Setting up for a successful day
Doing something first thing in the morning just for you to set up your day can be beneficial. Many of us don’t have to factor in commuting time now, so you could try to be disciplined using that time to set yourself up mentally for the day by implementing a morning routine.
Whether you go on a morning walk with your family or take the dog for a walk, getting some fresh air will help refresh your mind before starting work. Or you can start your day with a quiet meditation, reading, or doing a quiz; however you choose to start your day, make time to re-set your mind.
2. Fostering habits that separate work from personal activity
While you may have indulged in the benefits of working from home and the idea of spending all day working in your pyjamas, it’s crucial to maintain a social and work balance. This can be challenging if you don’t have a dedicated home office, and creating habits and routines is key to making this work.
To combat this, try to avoid the temptation to ‘check in’ on work when you first get up (no leaving out work from the previous day to avoid temptation), and try to mimic the routine you had when you were in the office. Take our Marketing Director who packs his work bag at the end of every day, laptop, notebooks, even his water bottle, even though he isn’t going anywhere the next day. It creates finality for his workday and prevents the temptation to check in. At 8:00 am he unpacks it, ready for the day. Experiences that simulate elements of our traditional office behaviours are common, and for some people, these habits can make a positive difference.
3. Making the day work for you
When you’re ready to start the day, finding the balance between comfort and distraction can be tricky. More often, you’ll likely come up against more distractions than you’ve ever faced before- namely from family, TV, and going on social media. With this in mind, although it can be difficult, it’s important to consider putting boundaries in place.
From a personal perspective, try making time for human connection. Even if you have video meetings scheduled, this isn’t always the same as connecting with people personally. None of us have ‘water cooler’ moments right now, so taking 5 minutes to check in with a colleague and say hello is healthy and reinforces your teams and organisation’s culture. It will probably also give you a little productively boost as you’ll feel refreshed for having taken a few minutes to clear your head.
Don’t just make it about video – we all talk about the real benefits of video calls and being able to read the reactions and visual cues of the people we can see. But sometimes, just picking up the phone and talking is more appropriate. Sometimes we might feel the pressure of being on show (that washing we haven’t put away on the sofa yet). Our homes are our sanctuaries and none of us should feel pressured in that environment. So, while video has its valued place, sometimes a call is just more comfortable.
From a productivity perspective, try different techniques to help you manage your workload. That could be taking regular informal breaks or using dedicated productivity tactics like the ‘Pomodoro technique’ (a method developed in the 1980s where work is broken down in to 25-minute chunks with a self-enforced 5-minute break).
At lunchtime, make sure you take time out, as you would in the office. When working from home it’s easy to power through, which can be damaging to your output and your health. Don’t just step away from your laptop, shut it, and avoid that temptation for at least 45 minutes. If using a unified communications platform, update your presence status to ‘away’ so you’re less likely to be interrupted.
There’s no one answer to this, but implementing habits and setting clear boundaries will help you reset your mind and motivate you to get whatever you needed to complete done.
Communication has never been more important. With so many of us working remotely, it can seem harder to get things done and feel like we’re part of something. For many of us, work can easily feel isolated if we don’t keep things in check, and our home work balance can bleed into one another. Having great tools to communicate and collaborate with co-workers is core to enabling us to get things done and create those important connections and lifelines. But we have to decide how we work and structure our time and activities to enable us to feel good about the work we’re doing at a challenging time. If you’re feeling the burn or know someone who is, hopefully some of the tools and tactics we’ve suggested above will help.