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10 Tips for Staying Productive When Working from Home

March 2020 6 min read

With the latest government information surrounding COVID-19, more and more companies are implementing work from home policies, including Cantarus.

The good news is that although this is an unusual and scary situation, it also presents an opportunity – when things eventually go back to normal, we might come out the other side having discovered an even better way of working – 77% of remote employees say they are more productive when working from home. 

Remote working is an adjustment that takes some getting used to when we’re conditioned to the 9-5 grind, and the initial adjustment period can be difficult.

Here are our top 10 tips for staying productive when working remotely, and how to stay positive during what is a weird, uncertain time.

1. Set a New Normal Morning Routine

Your standard morning routine will inevitably change. Gone are the days of snoozing the 6:30AM alarm and rushing around to make sure you don’t miss your tram.

Even though you’re skipping the daily commute, you shouldn’t skip your morning preparations. It may be tempting to wake up 5 minutes before you’re due to log in, but getting out of bed at least 30 minutes early ensures you have time to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Set a new normal. Whether that’s a cup of coffee while you set up your workspace, a 30-minute yoga session, walking your dog, or even just putting proper clothes on, having a routine will keep you motivated and ready for a day of productivity.

2. Get Out of the Sweatpants 

Don’t get me wrong – the idea of staying in your pyjamas all day is definitely appealing. But getting dressed will put you in a more professional mindset, and psychologically prepare you for work.

Our Marketing Manager Mubin, says,

“Personally, I like the idea of changing into work clothes. It gives me more motivation to work rather than slouch around.”

3. Establish Boundaries

The first few days of working from home are great – no more lengthy commutes with your head stuck in someone’s armpit, extra time to do boring household chores in your breaks, and unlimited access to all the snacks!

Nevertheless, it’s important to establish a balance between work-life and actual life. When you literally live at the office, it can be easy to overwork yourself. The dreaded burnout is real.

Stick to your regular working hours – and make it mandatory to finish on time. Your bed might tempt you to stay a little longer without the need to leave the house, or you may overwork because your laptop is right there, but sticking to your hours ensures the most efficient working day for you.

4. Unless you’re Self-Isolating, Get Outside

The advice is to stay indoors as much as possible, especially if you live in a big city like Manchester or London. However, working remotely doesn’t mean staying cooped up at your desk going stir crazy.

As long as you are not self-isolating, go outside for a short walk, change of scenery and some much-needed fresh air. It will help clear your head, and you’ll feel fresh and ready to take on your next task. Don’t forget to wash your hands as soon as you return home!

If you are self-isolating, opening the windows and letting in natural light will still do you the world of good and stop you feeling claustrophobic.

5. Schedule Regular Breaks

No one wants work to become monotonous, and spending every single minute of the day at home can make you restless. Take breaks throughout the day – being glued to a screen isn’t good for anybody! Get up and move around to break up your day just as you would if you were in the office.

The Pomodoro Technique involves breaking work up into 30-minute chunks with regular 5-minute breaks which helps prevent the brain from getting overly tired. This way of working has been found to be more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks.

6. Stay Connected

In the office, you have meetings with colleagues and clients several times a week, and you’re surrounded by people every day. When you move to remote working, you’ll miss those small interactions by the coffee machine or casual catchups in the lift.

Being alone is a strange adjustment, but the best way to tackle this is to stay in contact with everyone as normal. Schedule in team conference calls, or embrace video calling and webcams so you feel like you’re still with people, even when not physically. At Cantarus, we use Slack for a lot of communication – it’s a great tool to utilise as you can even do group calls to stay connected.

Informal chats and virtual coffee breaks are just as important as formal meetings, so encourage your colleagues to do the same! This will help keep your company culture strong too.

Also, call a friend or family member during your lunch break, and schedule in FaceTime dates after hours so you can stay connected in real life too.

7. Set Realistic Goals

Setting daily and weekly goals gives you something to work towards. Although it is a strange time with a lot of uncertainty, don’t let this distract from your long-term goals as you adapt to a new normal.

Tools like Trello are great for keeping track of your to-do lists so you don’t lose sight of what needs doing and when your deadlines are. Keeping organised is essential to productive remote working and lists will be your new best friend.

Break down projects into smaller deliverables and re-prioritise around any changes as the weeks go forward. Daily catchups with your team and manager will help keep work efficient, and plan regular reviews of output and progress too.

8. Make a Dedicated Office Space at Home

As tempting as it may be to work from the comfort of your own bed or the sofa, you’ll regret it by day 3. Creating an office environment free from distraction, whether that be a desk or the dining room table, is essential for remote working. This will establish boundaries between personal time and work mode.

Choose a well-lit room and comfortable seating to maximise productivity. Keep your bedroom as a place for relaxation only and mentally disconnecting from work – don’t work in here as it could impact your sleeping pattern and you’ll soon start associating your personal space with work. Close the door to your workspace at the end of the day to switch off ‘work brain’.

If there are others in your household during this time, be aware of each other’s schedules. Let them know when that important video call is happening to ensure no surprises

9. Keep a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s likely that gyms will go on lockdown in the near future, but don’t panic! There are some great home workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room from HIIT to Pilates – have a look on YouTube for some inspiration. Keep active during the working day, even if it’s a quick 20-minute workout over lunch. Stretch often, as you may find yourself sitting down more than usual.

Also, get your chef hat on! Being at home is the perfect excuse to try out that new recipe you’ve been meaning to try for months. Without the availability of a Tesco meal deal right outside your office, you can get into the habit of making a healthy lunch every day to look forward to.

10. Stay Positive

Of course, this is an uncertain time and anxiety might be higher than normal for many of us, but we are all in this together. Try to focus on the positives. We'll get through this and be back in the office in no time, most likely missing our working from home environments!

Take this time to recharge, realign & strategise. Listen to a new podcast, put on your favourite playlist, and spend some extra time with your family (or your dog) that you wouldn’t get to do usually.

What are your top tips for successful remote working? Let us know.

For more information on COVID-19, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Image Source: GIPHY
Written by Tabby Duff Working from Home Expert

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author unless explicitly stated. Unless of course, the article made you laugh, in which case, all credit should be directed towards our marketing department.


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