Work from home; a once idealised working style that quickly got nations worldwide re-thinking its desirability, especially since circuit breaker mode happened in Singapore. Sentiments for it garnered a less than positive response when Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing announced that working from home will be the norm post-circuit breaker mode after June 1, 2020.
For people who are used to working in an office, working from home can prove challenging for many, as it requires copious amounts of discipline. Not only does one have to battle with constant distractions at home, but also to keep up with maintaining connections with fellow team members and colleagues remotely. If you are anything like us (fans of working in an office), working from home can be a real test to your mental and emotional state of mind, not to mention productivity.
We are adamant about making this work and have put together 20 tips to help convert even the most avid office workers to loving a work from home situation, thriving and flourishing in a closer-to-home type working style:
1. Establish clear working from home guidelines
Establish clear guidelines on daily work hours, task submission procedures, how to update task progress, how to conduct meetings, and so on to help motivate work from home. Also, it is a good way to try out your own preferences concerning productivity.
2. Discover and implement an effective communication method between peers
Find the best communication method to help you and your teammates. Some prefer quick texts, whereas others prefer a quick phone call. Consider tools such as Whatsapp, Telegram or even Slack. If you would like to have more visual connections with the team, try video calls via online platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. For faster audio connections, Voice Notes could also be an option.
3. Implement daily reporting
Daily reports are also quite an excellent way to stay on top of tasks and projects while working remotely. Especially for managers who want a quick overview of updates, daily reports can help managers check-in. Reports can also be used to gauge an individual’s productivity rate.
4. Set up a dedicated workspace
Find an area that is quiet and relatively detached from everything else going on at home. Peter Vandendriesse, the CEO of Guestboard also talks about having dedicated spaces for a designated type of activity to help program and prepare your mind for it. Avoid working where you eat or sleep, for example, working where you usually eat may subconsciously distract you with thoughts of food, and deter you from working productively.
5. Dress up for work
Dress up for work as if you’re still going into the office. Doing so helps your mind subconsciously switch to work mode. If you remain in your most comfortable home clothes, you’re more likely to relax all day rather than focus on working.
6. Warm up your brain for work mode
Ok, so there’s no need for commuting when working from home, however, just like when you commute to work, taking a short walk before starting your workday helps prepare for work subconsciously. Try doing some home workouts, if not, short walks outside before starting your day of work.
7. Set and stick to a schedule
There’s always a routine of sorts during a typical work week. Adhering to a similar schedule even when working from home (WFH) can help one adjust to a work from home lifestyle despite the possibility of breaks, distractions from bored pets or hungry family members. With a specified start and stop time, scheduled breaks, and realistic deadlines, you’ll find working from home far more manageable.
8. Nip procrastination in the bud
Procrastination can be a significant obstacle for some when working from home. The struggle is real and we hear you. For those struggling to get going with tasks, try to just commit to finishing a task without thinking too much about it. Mel Robins explains about her theory with the “The 5 Seconds Rule”. We have 5 seconds before our mind takes over with doubts, fears and reasons as to why we shouldn’t do it. So, jump straight onto a task within 5 seconds and just do it.
9. Set up parameters to restrict technology distractions
Without colleagues or a nosey manager peeking over at your shoulders, it’s all too easy to slack off or put things on hold, watching YouTube videos or browsing through social media sites. Try emulating as close to a work environment as possible. Deploy website blockers to refrain yourself from visiting specific sites during certain times. Restrict the time spent on certain devices. Also, finding someone to help you stay accountable can actually help you feel responsible and committed to completing tasks.
10. Use laundry task as a time management tactic
Use your laundry tasks to help you time your to-do lists. This helps you keep track of your time during a task. If possible, commit assignments between wash cycles so that you can set each task for between washes. Read more about other time management tips
11. Communicate expectations
Working from home doesn’t mean you are available throughout. Communicate to your roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and maybe even dogs (if yours is needy) to respect your space during work hours so you won’t feel guilty ignoring them and they will learn to recognise your need for privacy.
12. Adapt a ROWE mindset
ROWE stands for “results-only work environment,” and it is widely encouraged because it helps remove concerns that managers may have around employee productivity. “We don’t track hours or care about how you do your work, as long as you’re getting the results,” said Tim Jones, CEO of Precision Nutrition, an online nutrition and healthy lifestyle coaching and certification company. “By focusing on goals and metrics, the old-school idea of how much time was spent sitting at a desk quickly goes out the door.”
13. Reward yourself
All work and no play isn’t good for anyone’s productivity, especially not when work feels like it is forced upon you. It’s only natural that you’ll want to take a break now and then, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Taking occasional breaks allows your mind to relax and reboot, enabling you to approach your work with a clear intention for the next task. Incentivise yourself by treating yourself to a reward when tasks are done. Maybe a quick coffee break, or a hoola dance for those who much prefer a celebratory dance? Rewarding yourself can yield a more positive approach towards completing tasks.
14. Staying social will help you work from home effectively
When people become tired or alienated, their working from home productivity falls. Come up with a number of home office hacks to try and build team spirit while everyone is in lockdown. For example, companies can conduct virtual celebration for their employees’ birthday etc or organize virtual team-building events to still maintain camaraderie between teams.
15. Track your mood
Use a tool such as Moodscope to keep track of how you are feeling daily to establish a form of baseline for your emotions. They are great to help you keep track of mood fluctuation, especially when it is about to decline so you don’t feel like you’re on a rollercoaster! Knowing is power!
16. Good posture is king
Sitting upright while you are working helps increase oxygen flow to the brain and helps with concentration better. Find a chair with a stable back support and place a cushion (or rolled-up towel) at your lower back for extra support, if needed. Remember that your eye level should align horizontally to the top of your viewing screen to prevent neck strains.
17. Leverage on a cloud-based PMS/ERP system
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage daily business operations such as project and task management or even procurement tools. This allows everyone with access to share information in real-time. Users can delegate tasks virtually with little communcation, assignment updates can be registered within these platforms too with updates on milestones and other key performance indicators required, making reporting and analysis efficient and easy! One such tool is ProofHub – a project management system (PMS) that keeps your team’s communication and tasks aligned on one single platform. Work smarter today!
With these tips, here’s hoping you will benefit from implementing some of them, and perhaps, even relishing the idea of working from home in the very near future. After all, remote work has been proven to increase productivity under varying circumstances; so why not make lemonades out of life’s lemons!
For more work-from-home tips, you can also check out The Sudden Remote Work Playbook for corporate teams.
Got more tips? Share them with us at the comments below or tell us how you deal with working from home.