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If you and your business have transitioned from the office to working from home, you may have noticed that even without the distraction of co-workers some employees are finding it hard to maintain their usual level of productivity.
Staying focused as a telecommuter can be challenging when there’s children, pets or social media vying for your attention, but with our top tips and the right technology, you and your team can stay on track and fly through to-do lists with ease.
Once you wake up, it’s best to jump straight into work as quickly as possible before you focus on other tasks that can distract you before you even begin. Get dressed, have a coffee and try to get at least one task out of the way before having a morning break or tending to a chore.
Our homes are full of triggers that signify relaxation and downtime, and unfortunately that has an unconscious effect on our brain when we try to work in that environment. Where possible, set up a dedicated workspace that is removed from the bedroom or living spaces where you usually relax. You’ll train your brain to see this new space as ‘the office’, which will help keep you motivated throughout the day. It also helps to keep that space organised, naturally lit and with an ergonomic setup where possible.
Without realising it, your morning routine sets your day up for success. When you get ready to go to the office, you’re giving yourself a chance to mentally prepare for what’s ahead and set up a productive frame of mind. When working from home, rather than rolling out of bed at 8:55 and sluggishly making your way to your workspace, set an early alarm, get dressed in nice work clothes, fix your hair and have a coffee before you start. You’ll be replicating your usual morning routine which will help keep you productive throughout the day.
When working from home, try and follow the same schedule you would at the office. For example, if you used to knock your emails out of the way first thing and take calls in the afternoon, stick to the same routine. As your last work task for the day, segment your next day up into tasks and try and stick to the timelines you’ve given yourself. To help you do this, replace morning stand-up meetings you used to have in the office with a daily video conference call, so you can check in with your team and keep yourself motivated.
While it might not be practical (or legal) to lock your kids up for 8 hours so that you can get your work done, there are some distractions you can control and minimise in your immediate environment. Remove social media, online shopping and news website shortcuts from your browser and only use teleconferencing solutions to interact with your colleagues. This will stop you from picking up your phone and mindlessly scrolling, or checking in with friends and family. If possible keep your phone on the other side of the room and let the bulk of calls go through to voicemail.
Use your morning teleconference to communicate what you’re going to achieve for the day with your colleagues. This will make you accountable to someone, which psychologically helps to overcome distractions and stay on task. Essentially you’re giving yourself a deadline that you have to meet.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re suddenly capable of doing eight hours straight at a consistent level of productivity all day. Our bodies have natural productivity zones that ebb and flow and these can be different for everyone. If you know that you’re most productive in the morning, use that time to knock out your more challenging work and save the easier administrative tasks for the afternoon when you may be in more of a natural slump.
When you’re working from home it’s common for kids, spouses or housemates to try and interact with you as though it’s your downtime. Use signals such as wearing headphones or locking the door to let them know that this is work time and that you don’t want to be distracted.
Without a boss or colleagues looking over your shoulder, it can be easy to lose the drive that gets things done as quickly as possible in the office. To maintain your usual speed, give yourself little challenges such as timing how many tasks you can get done before a load of washing is finished or rewarding yourself with a fun snack once a task is complete.
Although it sounds counter intuitive, strategic breaks can actually improve productivity levels compared to when you just try and power through all your work without a rest. If you’re working from home, use your strategic breaks to get out of the house for a quick, brisk walk. The fresh air and improved circulation will reset you and give you the boost you need to focus on your next task. For optimal productivity, use your walk to make business calls or attend audio conferences on the go.
Without your usual colleague interactions, it can be easy to fall into an afternoon slump or lose general productivity throughout the day. When used strategically, music can be a great motivator. After lunch or first thing in the morning try playing one of your favourite upbeat playlists to get you in a good mood, fired up and focused.
When working from home, the line between business and leisure time can blur and this isn’t healthy for either area of your life. Downtime gives you a chance to recharge and actually improves productivity throughout the day, so it’s smart to set yourself a clear start and finish time. Try setting an alarm to alert you when it’s time to put the tools down and start easing into your evening.
Interacting with your coworkers through video and audio conferencing is the best way to stay motivated, on task and connected with your team. Psychological studies have shown that using video technology to replicate a face-to-face meeting is especially impactful on our wellbeing and can improve the likeliness of a colleague following through with what you’ve requested. Have a morning standup meeting via video conference each day and end your week with some fun Friday afternoon video catch-ups.
At the end of the day, a telecommuting employee is only as strong as the technology they have to help them connect and stay productive. Express Virtual Meetings are experts in setting up your employees with the easiest, most effective and efficient technology to keep them productive and motivated each day. Whether it’s audio, video, or operator assisted conferencing, we can help your business and employees thrive when working from home.
To have a chat about how we can set you up with the right technology to foster productivity in your business, contact one of our friendly team members, today.
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