There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people work. Since the initial outbreak, millions have made the transition to working remotely from their homes. Being away from the office presents a number of unique challenges that can be difficult to navigate.
If you’ve found yourself feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed working from home, you are not alone. At Preemo, we’ve been working remotely just like you and would like to share what we’ve learned. Below you’ll find our top tips for successfully working from home.
- Set Up a Clear Workspace
Though working from your couch may seem like a good idea, it can be disastrous for your productivity. When working from home, we recommend setting up a clear designated workspace where you can really focus. Use the same space every day to maintain a routine.
Make sure your space is quiet and take the time to declutter your surroundings. A clear desk will help you accomplish your tasks. Ask yourself: do I have everything I need to work productively, such as a reliable internet connection and a usable computer.
The way you decorate your space can affect your productivity as well. Natural light can help you feel more awake and motivated to work. Plants can help reduce stress and give you a breath of fresh air even when you’re stuck inside. If you live with family or others, make sure that you won’t be interrupted. A simple “at work” or “do not disturb” sign can do the trick.
2. Work Securely
As IT Professionals, our top concern is always security. If you have been given a work-issued computer, use only that device for work-related tasks. Using your personal laptop can jeopardize the security of your work files. If you are connecting remotely to a corporate network, invest in a good VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure connection between your device and the internet. Home wifi networks can become vulnerable to security threats. A VPN ensures no outsiders can gain access to your work documents and communications.
Don’t skip out on other basic cybersecurity measures just because you are working from home. Always close your computer and log out of all important accounts when you are done working. Never leave your laptop or other important devices in your car, even if you’re just stepping away for a moment.
If you are an employer whose staff is working remotely, put clear security policies in place. Make sure your employees know what they should and should not do when working from home. For example, should they always wear headphones when video conferencing? What platforms should they be using to communicate? Setting clear policies reduces confusion and helps keep your employees working safely.
3. Stick to a Routine
When your home becomes your office, sticking to a normal schedule can be difficult. Doing even simple things like waking up early and getting dressed can seem pointless when there’s no office to go to. However, maintaining a normal routine is an important part of working from home.
We strongly advise that you maintain your usual pre-work routine, even if “going to work” just means going to the living room. Though it’s tempting, don’t just roll out of bed five minutes before your first video conference. Give yourself ample time to wake up, make some coffee, or chat with a loved one. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling productive and ready to get some work done.
4. Communicate With Your Coworkers
Don’t let working from home isolate you from your team. You must not stop communicating simply because you are not in the same room. In fact, many remote work experts advise “overcommunication” when separated from your coworkers. This means checking in and asking even more questions than you ordinarily would.
When you’re not physically in the office, it can also be hard to know exactly what is expected of you. Be sure to speak to your supervisors about what tasks you are expected to complete and how you should submit completed projects. Don’t skip out on meetings and video conferences, even if they are not mandatory. Staying in good touch with your coworkers will help keep you accountable and mitigate any confusion over your responsibilities.
Don’t let “out of sight” become “out of mind.” The most conscientious employees are still actively reaching out to their supervisors and coworkers regularly, whether through email, video calls, or messaging platforms like Slack.
5. Don’t Miss Out on Breaks
When working from home, it can be easy to work straight through your breaks. If your “lunch break” simply involves walking to the kitchen, you may start to feel pressure to shorten your breaks or even work straight through them. Getting a true break, in which you are separated from your work and your desk, is tricky when working remotely. However, this doesn’t mean breaks are any less important to both your productivity and your mental health.
Evidence suggests that taking breaks helps reset motivation and focus and stimulate creativity. In fact, employees who take fewer breaks are less likely to be productive. Find some time in your day for “movement breaks.” Take a walk outside, stretch, do yoga, or any other activity that gets you moving. These active breaks boost productivity and fight fatigue.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Finally, let’s discuss the end of your day. Many remote employees say that they have a difficult time logging off for the night. According to a 2020 Buffer report, 18% of remote employees said their biggest difficulty was unplugging after work. Another survey found that 39.5% of remote workers get only 6.5 hours of sleep per night, less than is necessary for an adult.
Missing out on valuable hours of sleep can harm your work performance. Research clearly indicates that getting less sleep is associated with decreased productivity. One study concludes that “sleep should be considered an important element in workplace health.” When working from home, be sure to prioritize sleep. It is vital to maintain a normal routine in both the morning and the evening. Set a clear time when you will be done working and let yourself unplug for the night. Your future self will thank you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new world for all of us. We are all learning and navigating new difficulties each day. Here at Preemo, we are working to help our clients adapt to the changing times. As working from home becomes “the new normal,” know that we are here to help.