Have you been forced to work from home because of COVID-19? How are you finding your new way of life?
There are many benefits to any kind of remote working, but there are also some hurdles you need to jump over for it to be really successful.
Here are our top tips for you to make the most of working from home.
1) Get back your daily commute
The daily commute has been a huge part of your working life. No matter what your feelings are about it, it has started and ended your day for a long time. This routine was a good thing and it is recommend that you reap the benefits of your daily commute without actually leaving your home.
Whilst in lock-down, this needs to be a mental exercise rather than a physical one. Each morning, find some space and imagine heading out, think about the kind of things you would normally think about whilst on your daily commute.
At the end of your work day, repeat the task. Digest what has happened throughout the day and prepare to transition to home life again.
Give it a try. Done well this can set you up for a very productive day.
2) Avoid tunnel vision
Isn’t it amazing what you can get done when you have a solid concentrated block of time to do it? One of the benefits of working from home is that you are likely having fewer distractions than when you were actually at work.
However, the isolation may mean you are not actually working on the most important tasks. Business priorities can change throughout the day. How can you ensure you are keeping up with these shifts? Failing to keep up to date could result in you wasting time on a task that is no longer vital.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture whilst you’re in your own little home office bubble.
3) Embrace a macro-management approach
Hands on minute-by-minute managing is easy to do in the office. Is this how you manage? Or how you have been managed?
It’s no so easy to micro-manage a remote team. More importantly, why should you even bother trying? We don’t think you should. Working in a micro-managed state for a while can drastically reduce your productivity. It’s time to embrace your inner macro-manager.
If you’re a manager, you don’t need to constantly monitor staff. Set some goals and give your staff the time they need to figure it out and reach those goals. Set one or two regular times to chat with each employee you manage rather than constantly checking up on them.
This will free you up so that you can get stuck into something more substantial yourself.
Find a tool to help you with recording goals for yourself, and your team. Remote working may force this to happen in the long run, but get ahead of the game and start out in a positive way.
4) Get your working environment right
What was once a desk stuck in the corner of a spare bedroom now gets a lot more attention from you. There are a few dos and don’ts for your home working space that you should pay attention to.
- Keep it clean and tidy – a clean and clear space can help you concentrate on your work
- Make it more personal – have some things on your desk that bring a smile to your face
- Listen to what you want to listen to – no more office politics about what music to listen to – if you even could listen to any music at all in your office.
- Remember your health and safety – make sure your workstation is set up correctly.*
*Remember, if you’re an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure your employees home work environment is set up safely. You could require your employees to submit some evidence of this. Make sure you store this evidence in the document storage section of your HR system.
5) Take the opportunity to pull some weeds out
With everyone changing how they work, now is a good time to think about how you operate as a business or as a team. What worked before may not be working for you now. What seemed important in your processes before may actually be a bottleneck or complete waste of time now.
It is time to look at your processes with fresh eyes. Strip each of your processes down to their bare bones. Then, pull out any of the weeds that may have grown into the them.
What other processes could you adopt to improve how your business works?
6) Don’t miss out on the social side of work
You may not notice it at first. It’s a subtle change. But did you know, working from home can be more intense than working in an office?
Those 5 minute chats to colleagues in the office, that little walk to get a drink and say hello to any people on the way. These little droplets of social contact provided you with a mental break – a power nap for your mind.
These little breaks mean that when you get back to your desk you get a small boost of productivity – many times a day.
When you’re working from home it’s easy to lose these boosts. You can only work at high level of concentration for a limited time before losing some productivity. Therefore, it’s essential to reach out to colleagues for a little bit of social connection throughout the day.
One idea we love is the concept of remote coffee break, or even lunch. Get together with some of your colleagues and have a social catch up together over video conference.
You can think of these social breaks as “active procrastination” rather than avoiding work. You are actively doing something other than your dedicated tasks which actually means you stay productive overall.
7) You still need a holiday
Just because you are at home now, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take holiday time. You still deserve a break from your job to rest, and unwind – even if you can’t go travelling just now.
Employers still need to make sure they keeping accurate records of absences such as sickness and holiday too, and normal policy on how to report and log sickness should still be followed.
How are you recording your time off whilst working from home?
If you’re not already using one, a web based system HR system, like SkyHR, provides self-service capabilities. This means that you can log your holiday and other time off directly into the system. You can also easily review when the rest of your team is away.
If you’re still using a spreadsheet, or paper based system, now might be the time to make the leap.