According to an Owl Labs survey, about 70% of full-time workers in the U.S. have worked remotely by the end of 2021. While many companies have decided to embrace the hybrid setup, a lot of employees still prefer to work from home. Who wouldn’t want to forego the daily commute in favor of more time for sleep, family, and exercise?
However, the same Owl Labs survey reported that 36% of managers remain concerned about worker productivity. Two years into the pandemic, remote employees still have to prove themselves worthy of a flexible work setup.
So, how do you stay focused on your job while maintaining your mental and physical health? Here are some remote work productivity tips that virtual workplace experts recommend.
Develop a Work-from-Home Routine for Your Online Job
1. Create a Suitable Schedule
It’s easier to manage your workload when you follow a daily schedule. With all your tasks visibly lined up, you recognize if you’re overwhelmed or you have more time to take on more responsibilities. As such, we recommend using available online templates for planning your workday.
Also, you need to identify your peak productive hours and optimize your schedule around those times. It’s easy to know whether you’re a night owl or a morning person. However, it becomes challenging to know your ultradian cycles. These bursts of energy are where your cognitive and physical functions are at their best.
In that case, we suggest taking advantage of free time tracking apps for freelancers. You can easily find tools that monitor your activity levels and generate reports about your peak productivity hours. By using those programs, you will know when to schedule cognitive-heavy tasks effectively.
Here are some steps you can follow to develop a foolproof work routine:
- Wake up at least an hour before the start of your work hour.
- Get ready for work and have a good meal before settling in your work area.
- Before starting your work, use a time tracker to get alerts on your start time, breaks, hours worked, and end time.
- Have full dedication while working on your tasks.
- As soon as your time tracker tells you that it’s the end of your workday, shut down your laptop.
- Move away from your work area or store your work devices away. Call it a day.
2. Get Ready for Work
Most of the time, online jobs that you can do from home do not come with the pressure of a “getting ready” routine. You don’t have to wake up so early in the morning just to avoid heavy traffic. However, it still helps if you prepare your body and mindset for work.
Instead of working in your pajamas throughout the day, you should still get ready as if you’re coming to the office. Maintain high standards of hygiene and grooming. This way, you can establish a reasonable boundary between your personal and professional time. It will also be a way of signaling your brain that your working day is about to begin.
3. Take Regular Breaks
In-person meetings and watercooler conversations naturally break up an employee’s working day. At home, it can be difficult to schedule breaks that can help you refresh your body and mind. So, you have to be proactive when it comes to managing your time.
Whether you’re taking side gigs or focusing on your full-time online job, using time management methods can be helpful. One of the ways you can effectively schedule breaks is by using the Pomodoro technique. This method involves working in 25-minute intervals. You’ll have to take a 5-minute break in between, allowing you to reward yourself and take a breather.
Create a Good Home Working Environment
4. Choose an Ideal Location
Look for a comfortable spot in your home that you can dedicate to work. You should be able to associate the area with professional matters. So, ideally, it shouldn’t be the couch or the bed. Doing it in the living room can be challenging as well because you can get interrupted multiple times a day.
If you have a spare room, convert it into a dedicated home office. This way, you can shut the door and eliminate distractions. If that’s not possible, you can also bring your laptop to a local café or library. Doing so will help you get out of the laidback mindset and into the productivity zone.
5. Get Rid of Household Distractions
There are many benefits to having an online job that you can do at home. However, it also comes with a number of downsides, including domestic distractions. It’s always tempting to do the laundry when the pile of dirty clothes is within your peripheral view.
So, to minimize potential distractions, try to dedicate a certain time to complete your household chores. Before you start your workday, make sure that your workspace is clean and tidy. It’s also better to listen to music than to turn on the TV, and studies can back that up. Take research from the University of Birmingham as an example. It says that playing background music can increase a person’s efficiency when performing repetitive tasks.
6. Invest in Ergonomic Office Furniture
If you haven’t invested in ergonomic office furniture, now is the time to do so. You’re going to spend most of your working hours at home, so it only makes sense to make yourself comfortable. Consider purchasing a desk with adjustable height, a comfortable chair, and a mechanical keyboard. Depending on the amount of space available, you may also spruce up your home office by adding a bookshelf.
7. Set Boundaries with Other People in Your Home
If you have several pets or young children at home, following this tip can be extra challenging. Your family or roommates may interrupt you multiple times a day if you don’t set clear boundaries. Remote work may be a new concept to many, and the people you’re living with may not understand your situation.
So, it’s important that you have an open discussion with your family and explain to them what the work-from-home culture means. Once they understand how it works, they will be able to respect your professional life. Here are some tips to follow:
- Set up a time where you can bring everyone together for a small chat.
- Discuss the nuances of working from home and what they can expect from the setup.
- Share your work schedule with them and politely explain why you shouldn’t be bothered during that period.
- Work out a schedule for taking care of the kids and make sure your pets won’t be able to reach your work area.
Improve Communication with Your Remote Colleagues
8. Use the Right Tools for Remote Communication
When you’re not used to working from home, you may struggle with feelings of isolation. Of course, that feeling can affect your productivity and your efficiency at work. However, that problem can be alleviated by using the right tools for remote communication.
Video conferencing apps like Zoom will be handy in staying connected with your colleagues. Other chat programs come with extra collaboration and project management features. For instance, on Slack, you can allocate tasks while communicating with your team.
9. Take Advantage of Online Seminars, Conferences, and Networking Events
Just because you’re doing an online job, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in professional growth. One of the great things about the switch towards remote work is that conferences and training seminars have moved online. So, opportunities for growth are more accessible these days. Before, people had to book tickets and hotel rooms just to attend networking events.
Indeed, today is the best time to expand your knowledge about your sector. There are plenty of online opportunities for building your network and growing your skills. All you need to do is browse the internet and you’ll find a range of networking forums, accreditation, and qualifications that could work for you.
Regularly check industry-specific publications. Most of the time, they offer virtual conferences and informal learning opportunities. Indeed, you can boost your career if you know where to find the right channels.
10. Keep Socializing with Your Remote Colleagues
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are actively disengaged at work. Remote workers shouldn’t neglect the social aspect of spending time with coworkers. Even when you’re doing an online job, you can still have team lunches, virtual water cooler conversations, and even team-building events.
If you’re managing a remote team, you can improve collaboration by setting up a virtual escape room event. Such activity can provide a social opportunity for solving problems together and even boosting morale. Now, if you want to bring everyone together for a more meaningful activity, it would be a great option to organize a charitable event.
However, virtual activities do not have to be grand and extravagant. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a Zoom morning coffee talk. Such an activity can be a great opportunity for coworkers to socialize and catch up.
Why Boosting Work-from-Home Productivity Is Important?
According to Nextiva’s 2020 State of Business Communication report, 40% of companies are offering online jobs that can be done from home. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization still considers COVID-19 a global emergency. So, it’s important for company leaders to maintain business continuity.
One of the ways companies can survive the dynamic market is by diversifying where people work. With a geographically distributed team, employers can manage the effects of any health disaster. Moreover, they can keep their businesses operational. What’s more, work hours can be adjusted around local needs.
Of course, skipping the daily commute is not the only benefit that employees can enjoy. Most of the people who actively search for remote work think about the welfare and well-being of their families. When they have an online job, they can meet their financial needs without worrying about health risks.
Meanwhile, employers can cut down their commercial real estate expenses. Indeed, survey after survey has proven that the benefits of telecommuting go both ways.
Unfortunately, investing in video conferencing tools is not enough. Moreover, a high-speed internet connection is not the only factor in effective remote work. After all, there’s some truth behind the concerns of managers about productivity.
So, if you want to optimize your routine and boost your productivity, make sure you follow these work-from-home tips.