In just a few short weeks, the way we work has changed dramatically - conferences and have been cancelled, schools have been closed, and businesses have quickly implemented their business continuity plans to enable employees to work remotely. Driven by the necessity for businesses around the world to impose social distancing in an effort to keep employees safe from the COVID-19 outbreak, and to keep those employees as productive as possible while working from home.
For employees who have been forced to work from home for the first time out of necessity, it may be a shock to the system - for both the managers and employees. Learning how to replicate their day to day responsibilities from home certainly requires an adjustment.
There is good news! Studies and statistics about working from home, or telecommuting, show that working from home actually increases productivity. Remote workers work a few more days per month, and remain productive for longer periods of time during the day, even if they take longer breaks, on average.
For employees who are new to the remote work lifestyle, here are our 21 tips for working from home.
1. Download Virtual Meeting Software
Trying to work from home with just email can get old very quickly. One of our most important work from home tips is to download collaboration software. With online meeting and video conferencing software like GlobalMeet Collaboration, you can meet with coworkers, customers and partners all from the comfort and safety of your home. The best news is that it’s free to use with no limits on how many meetings you can schedule.
2. Expect Distractions
Typically, when working from home, we’d recommend eliminating distractions. But with COVID-19 changing how (where, when and with how many) we work, it’s going to be impossible to eliminate distractions. Instead, you should expect them. Many will have the added challenge of home-schooling children while also working full time. Develop a game plan for your top distractions and how to work around them to communicate to your boss and your team. And, don’t forget to give your coworkers a bit of grace in the new normal environment.
3. Create a Workspace
For many, working from home or remotely is a rarity, so they’re not familiar with the ins and outs of how best to approach it. Once you’ve found a dedicated spot to work, whether that’s a permanent home office or your kitchen table, make sure you have everything you need for a successful workday. For instance, do you make to-do lists? Have a notebook nearby to write down the day’s activities. Even if you’re not working at a traditional office desk, you should have all the tools you need to get your work done right at your fingertips.
4. Create a Routine
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep a routine. Wake up at the same time every day, get dressed, eat breakfast and start the day. Consistency when you work from home is critical. Some of the best working from home tips include a daily routine to help maximize your productivity and improve your overall work from home experience. A good routine will go a long way, we promise.
5. Embrace Natural Light
If you can, try to work near natural light. According to Harvard Business Review, studies show that natural light helps improve overall employee experience. Without vitamin D during the day, many employees can feel down or see a noticeable difference in their productivity. Help keep your spirits high by working in a room with plenty of natural light.
6. Keep Consistent Work Hours
When you’re working from home it is more important than ever to start and end work at the same time every day. Many work from home employees often find themselves working at all hours. This leads to a very blurred line between work time and personal time. When you’re already working where you live, you at least need to keep those hours as segmented as possible. However, be sure to embrace altered hours. Early mornings and late evenings may become the new business hours, especially for working parents who are now tasked with homeschooling their children.
7. Dress the Part
Many tips for working from home will include getting dressed as a simple way to be successful when working remotely. Sure you can wake up and start your calls in your pajamas, but when you dress the part, that confidence and professionalism comes through in every email, online meeting and phone call. Plus, you want to make sure you’re ready in the event your audio meeting turns to video. Just be prepared that your co-workers may not have dressed the part.
8. Schedule Time to Sync with the Team
Many work from home tips highlight one crucial aspect that social interactions are of the utmost importance. When you work from home, you might miss that typical coffee break chit chat, but you don’t have to. Schedule a video meeting, even if it’s just for 10 minutes, with your team to check in with everyone. Seeing the people you work with can help build team camaraderie even when everyone is remote.
9. Screen Share During Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings can be much more productive when you share your screen. Attendees can look at something visual, like your latest creative brief, to help explain your message. People are visual learners and sharing your presentation online helps with retention and comprehension. Make sure you choose a tool that lets you share your webcam and screen share your presentation at the same time.
10. Keep Healthy Food in your Home
When you’re working from home, it’s easy to reach for that bag of chips. Work from home snacking is a real issue, so do yourself a favor and keep healthy options in your house. If those chips aren’t there for you to eat, you might go for a piece of fruit or nuts instead.
11. Make a To-do List
When you’re working from home, it’s even more paramount to create a to-do list to keep you focused and productive throughout the day. Let’s be honest, a to-do list is more than just priority setting. You can gain a sense of accomplishment when you mark something off your list. When you’re working remote and practicing social distancing, celebrating these little wins can make a positive difference in your day.
12. Set Ground Rules
We’re halfway through our top 21 tips for working from home, and setting ground rules for the people (and pets) in your home while you’re working remotely is one of our top tips. We all know you can easily succumb to distractions around the house, especially if you have kids, a spouse or a noisy pet. Be sure to set some ground rules for your work environment so that everyone, even those non human ones, are on the same page.
13. Dial into Meetings Using VoIP
Out of all the working from home tips on the internet, this is one you shouldn’t miss during the COVID-19 outbreak. Dialing into a meeting using VoIP (voice over internet protocol) can help keep you connected throughout your meeting and provide the best audio during this crisis. As people all over the world are working remotely, phone network infrastructures are seeing increased usage. In order to have the best audio experience while you’re working from home, use VoIP.
14. Take Control of the Meeting
When you’re working on a team project, sometimes it’s just easier to take control of the mouse and actually “do” what you’re trying to explain. GlobalMeet Collaboration features remote desktop control, so you can easily take control of the meeting and gain access to another attendee’s screen when they grant you access. The benefits don’t stop there, read this blog for tips on how to use remote desktop control.
15. Get Your Steps In (While Properly Distanced)
Just as in the office, make it a point to schedule breaks to get up and move throughout the day. Do not remain dormant in one spot throughout the day. Even if you can’t get to the gym, it’s essential to take a walk around your house or try to do some at-home exercise. You’ll feel better and have the energy to get through your remote workday.
16. Get Face Time
With the spread of COVID-19 and the increased request around the world for social distancing, getting a little extra face time will help alleviate feeling lonely. When you’re on a web meeting, simply turn on your video to start meeting face to face. You’ll have better conversations and feel connected even if you’re not in the same room.
Pro tip: Reread tip number 5 so you can be ready.
17. Mute Your Line
While working from home with your furry friend is a nice perk, being on a conference call with dogs barking in the background isn’t. Background noise can come from anywhere, too. Whether it’s your furry friend, kids running around your house or a loud neighbor next door, eliminate background noise on meetings and conference calls by muting your line.
18. Drink Plenty of Water
In a recent study conducted by Quench, nearly 80% of employees say they don’t drink enough water during a typical workday. The impacts of not drinking enough water go far beyond health risks. By staying hydrated, you’re providing enough water and oxygen to your brain allowing for better thinking and problem solving. So make sure to stay hydrated.
19. Get Some Fresh Air
While employees are urged to work from home and practice social distancing, many are likely feeling the effects of being cooped up indoors. Opening the windows and getting some fresh air may help lift your spirit. Don’t want to open the windows? That’s ok too. Take a few minutes and step outside and stretch your legs.
20. Schedule Breaks and Take Them
This one ties into another one of our tips for working from home, keep consistent business hours. Just as it’s easy to blur the line between work hours and family time, it’s important that you take breaks throughout the day. Not only do breaks help improve productivity but they also help keep you fresh throughout the day.
21. Over Communicate with Others
One of the first thoughts many new home-based workers feel is isolation. The key is to proactively engage with colleagues similar to the office. Use the available channels to engage, collaborate and troubleshoot. Pick up the phone, send a text or ask for help. Find small and simple ways to connect, such as a virtual lunch with colleagues or friends. When communication is high on the priority list, teams have better synergy and are more productive overall.
If all else fails, remember the old adage: “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” This is a trying time for everyone, and your co-workers are feeling the pinch just as much as you are. A little kindness will go a long way at the moment, and it’ll help us all get through this together. We hope you found our tips for working from home helpful. If you would like to see how we can help you be more productive while you are working from home, contact us.