Over the past few weeks, companies around the world have been transitioning to remote working conditions due to the spread of COVID-19. Working from a ‘home office’ is likely to become the new normal for many of us in the coming weeks.
For those who’ve never tried it before, working from home may seem like a breath of fresh air. According to a recent FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents find working from home to be more productive. However, working remotely has its share of setbacks as well:
- No physical separation between your work and leisure time
- No human interaction and thus a higher chance for misunderstanding between team members
- Many potential distractions
- Unhealthy lifestyle
Whether you’re a work-from-home newbie or longtime home-office hermit, here are some useful tips on how to avoid slumps in productivity.
Prioritize and organize
Flexibility is one of the obvious benefits of working remotely. Having a distinct schedule for when to work and when to pause is something that allows remote workers to maintain a perfect work-life balance. Whether due to the coronavirus or because you’ve managed to find a remote-based job, be prepared to change some of your habits to make working from home a success.
Clarify your goals, make a to-do list and try to stick to it as often as possible. Do not procrastinate! Maintain regular hours and prioritize working on your most important tasks and projects for earlier in the day.
Maintain regular communication with colleagues and managers
It is common for communication between team members to suffer when transitioning to remote working conditions. That’s why you should not hesitate to reach out to your manager and teammates from your ‘home office’ anytime you have a question or suggestion.
Conduct video chat meetings at regular intervals. A video conference is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page about projects you’re currently working on. Make sure the video chat platform includes features such as file sharing, screen share and multiple users in one chat.
Always “show up” to your organization’s online meetings and be heard. Luckily, there are a handful of easy-to-use solutions that make maintaining communication with colleagues seamless, these include face-to-face video conference platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and others.
Use a VPN at all times
Working via an out-of-office network (at home, co-working space, cafe, library, etc.) increases the chances of your data being compromised. That is why we recommend using a VPN for all your work-related connections.
These days, many companies have their own VPN servers that their remote employees can utilize to access and manage information only meant for internal use. Also, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of leaving your VPN connected as often as possible because it’s always safer to have it on than not.
Treat it like a real job
Just because you can walk around in your pajamas doesn’t mean you actually should. Similarly, not having a well-equipped home office space doesn’t mean you should stay in bed with your laptop. A properly organized workspace where you can concentrate is a must for unlocking the benefits of remote work.
Take a shower and get dressed. After all, doing so serves as a signal to your family members that you’re ‘at work.’
HERE are some useful tips and tools to help you get the most out of working remotely.
Simplify tasks performance to avoid frustration
There’s nothing more encouraging than getting your mundane tasks done as quickly (and efficiently, of course) as possible. Luckily, in 2020 you no longer need to meet someone in person to sign an invoice or close a sales deal. There’s plenty of solutions on the market that allow you to automate repetitive document-driven workflows, negotiate on contracts, and certify them electronically on any device. With up-to-the-minute platforms like signNow, you can free up enough time to focus on the things you love.
Keep honing your skills
Being out of the workplace doesn’t mean you can’t broaden your horizons and build new skills. Consider your out-of-office time as an opportunity to learn something useful.
Speak up and make sure you have access to your organization’s online courses. And even if there’s no such opportunity, you can always start a paid or free online course for a variety of industries. Automation courses by the airSlate Academy are available completely free of charge. These courses are designed to give you the necessary skills to start a new career, demonstrate career growth, or implement a new high-tech solution in your workplace.
By broadening your horizons, you’ll be working to develop not only your professional identity but also new in-demand skills.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
A successful remote employee relies on discipline. After all, it takes serious effort to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space. Still, we’re all human beings and may lose focus at times. If you catch yourself working for one minute and checking your Facebook feed for the next five, don’t criticize yourself too harshly. Instead, cut yourself some slack, have a cup of coffee, take a stroll in the park and get back to work after you’ve cleared your head.
Stay on the positive side
One of the leading causes of work-related stress is focusing on the negative, and what is going on that is beyond our control. The best cure for stress is to concentrate on what is going right and the progress that is being made. Laughing and smiling lowers stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline) and is a natural antidepressant that releases healthy hormones. Learn to pace yourself and slow down.
Do what makes you feel calm and happy. Even if these things may not be so productive and useful.
And remember – the right decisions are rarely made in a rush.
The pace of life can come at us way too fast at times. Clear your head and take a few minutes to breathe. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold and exhale after 5 more. Doing so will help you stay calm and focus, like a 90-minute yoga class but in three minutes or less. Remember that 30 minutes of walking per day can help boost your mood and reduce stress levels (you can walk around your apartment or hop on a treadmill if you have one).
Eat right and sleep well
Eating poorly will stress your body out while eating right will restore balance and reduce pressure. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates the body so you can tackle the day ahead and can help lower the effects of stress during your out-of-office workday.
In a nutshell
Of course, every case is unique. Some find it more comfortable sitting at their office desk, while others prefer a couch in their living room.
Whatever your circumstances may be, it’s still you who’s in charge and who needs to strive to be a more effective remote worker. If you treat this sudden work-from-home situation with the right mindset, you’ll do a great job and enjoy the benefits that go along with it.