With the worldwide epidemic COVIT 19 ( more commonly known as the Virus from Wuhan ) hitting the shores of many countries around the world, many companies and individuals have been asked or challenged to work from home in view of reducing group contact or interaction.
However, for those who are new to the concept of working from home or working remotely from your laptop, this might seem like an exciting proposition at the beginning. You discover that you have new found autonomy and freedom to work in your PJs and slouch on your bed, but then you start to realise that it gets really hard to be productive and effective at getting real work done without any proper structure, system or model.
When that happens, here where you need some implementable tips and guidelines to make it more efficient for you and others. Here’s 10 tips on how to work remotely and become more productive at home during COVIT19.
10 Tips on how to work remotely and stay productive during COVIT 19
1. Set A Daily Agenda and Follow it
Plan your day. Whether you choose to do it a day ahead or in the morning at the beginning of the day, have a checklist of what is critical and important to complete as well as other must-dos. As the day progress, there will be a need to prioritize certain tasks in the day and move it forward, so be flexible to switch things around and keep track of the time you allocated to complete a task.
2. Utilize Online Tools that can enable organizing your tasks
There are multiple online tools out there available for you to organize your work and assignments and work with your teams. Here are a few popular ones that you can consider that can aid in your productivity.
3. Use Video Conferencing
In the instance where you cannot have actual face to face meetings in office with your colleagues or clients, why not try using video conferencing or webinar to continue the discussions and work.
The top 3 popular options are Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts and more. Some of them allow for screen sharing, chat groups and even up to 25 meeting attendees at one time. The latest update is that Google Meet is now free for everyone, so you need not buy a G Suite account to enjoy that.
Tips to note: Make sure that you have a working camera on your laptop so that the meeting attendees can see your face and expressions when you speak. It helps build trust, strengthen the discussion and also prevents more misunderstandings.
4. Take Breaks and Short Walks
There will be times where you get too caught up with your work and find yourself glued to the work chair and laptop for 3 to 4 to 5 hours straight. It will start to put a strain on your body, where you start to feel backaches, stiff shoulders and neck and fatigue.
Studies have shown that there will be a dip in the productivity of an individual as well when they work consistently for hours without taking periodic breaks.
Start small with just a stretch and step away to go to the bathroom, to the kitchen for a drink or take a eye break staring out of the window or balcony. Once you start to see the value of short breaks, you can increase it to short 10-15 minutes walk outside to get some fresh air or sunshine. This helps circulate the blood in your body and also give your eyes a break from the blue screen.
5. Communicate with your Team regularly
Working remotely requires a lot of trust and accountability. The individual will need to be able to handle their work well with little micromanaging and supervision.
If you work with teams like other departments or your colleagues ( designers etc), its critical that you build the communication channels and flow such that you are easily reachable and contactable through daily chat channels or weekly video catch up calls. This is critical especially at the earlier stages of the remote working relationship to get your projects moving and objectives met. When the rapport and trust is not so strong yet, it requires conscientious effort to build it.
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6. Set up a Home Office
Yes, set up a proper corner in your house as an office. No working from bed, get a proper seat with a good desk lamp or natural sunlight and a proper mouse and all.
Envision 4 segments in your home and differentiate them for different uses. Remember, even if your house/ room is small, you can still cordon off different areas with an imaginary line/ boundary. So here are the 4 zones:
- Work Zone: Set Up to work, no youtubes and couches here
- Relax/ Hobby Zone: Nice lighting, a book and some aroma therapy could help. No laptops allowed here.
This can also be a hobby zone where you put aside time to do something you have always wanted. Warning, this zone sometimes takes up toooo much time and you end up wasting time on brainless mindless time killing video/ game binging. Be strict and only do things you really want to do or watch things you really want to watch.
- Sleep Zone: No gadgets at all. Keep it dark and use this place to sleep! If you dont discipline yourself to rest here, you will NOT be rested and it will affect all your schedules. So once again, no blue screens here!
- Exercise Zone: I don’t care if you are a fitness buff or a slacker, this is a zone you need to make space for. If you can’t go out enough, you need to still keep your heart rate up, do a nice workout and clear your mind through a good workout. If exercise is not something you can do due to health reasons, convert this space to a place for stretching, mediation or working on a craft.
So back to a home work space. Below are just some additional suggestions as well.
- Stock up on Healthy Snacks: It’s easy to feast on goodies and snacks all day in your cosy home without anyone around to judge you or watch you. If needed to improve this bad habit, stock up on healthier options like vegetable sticks with dips, dried fruit, nuts and yogurt.
- Set up an ergonomic chair: This is really useful to help maintain your posture in the long run. Getting a backache from a day of work every day is not a great feeling to have.
- Laptop Stand: This is something a person who constantly works from a laptop – highly requires. You either invest in a little stand that tilts your laptop upwards to your eye level; or get a desktop where you can connect to your laptop to flash your screen at eye level.
7. Manage your stress
Stress will bound to add up over time as you work from home. You feel challenged by not being able to meet people in person to form a deeper face to face connections. Sometimes your productivity and effectiveness at work get questioned by your boss or colleagues when you are unable to show consistent results or documentation of your progress.
When that happens, learn to deal with the mounting stress. See how you can overcome it by having more weekly updates with your colleagues and as much as possible do video calls instead of just voice calls. Also, working from home sometimes causes people to end up working non stop and skip their regular lunch breaks or time to leave office.
This increase work intensity and hours will take a toil on your body over time, so make sure you protect your time by setting clear cuts on when you stop working on a task or shut off your laptop to go for a workout.
8. Keep fit
Working effectively and productively comes hand in hand with a healthy body. If you maintain good discipline to start your day well with a good mix of exercise as well, you can actually see how it improves your alertness, blood circulation and energy level for work.
9. Be discipline and Protect your Priorities
Every day comes with an immense amount of work and things that demand your attention. So you need to be discipline to work through what is needed without getting distracted.
Social media and entertainment platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Netflix and other gaming platforms can consume all your attention and get you hooked to mindless scrolling. So be mindful with what you know you are addicted to.
Activate website blockers or implement tools that will switch off your youtube or laptop after a certain time, to ensure you work productively and stop work when its time to take a short break or rest for the day.
10. Sleep Early and Wake up Fresh
The early bird catches the worm.
Indeed, people who start the day nice and early find themselves getting out all the priorities and urgent tasks/ errands of the day. It sets you ahead when the rest of your counterparts are still getting ready to start their day/ engine, and then bombard you with request, inquiries and follow up. So if you want to focus on some critical individual work or get your errands off your list, start your day nice and early and run.
In summary, working from home online and remotely is not easy but can be done and turn out to be even more productive if you follow these 10 tips well.