As several counties are determining to close all non-essential businesses to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, working remotely from home is becoming a new necessity for the masses with little to no notice.
In the future, working from home may just be the norm. One study projected that by 2025, about half of the U.S. workforce would be working remotely for part of their week. With this change, it is important to know how to best utilize your time and stay productive while adjusting to remote work through these benefits and helpful tips.
Benefits of Working From Home
In addition to allowing workers the opportunity to practice social distancing, employers and employees that work from home describe several other benefits. Remote work often allows for greater diversity in companies as employers and employees can work together from all over the world. Other benefits have also been repeatedly cited by professionals who work remotely, as they report 77 percent greater productivity and 52 percent less likely to take time off.
Follow a Routine
According to Northwestern Medicine, a proper routine can lead to better stress levels, better sleep and better health, all of which are important as many are dealing with major changes in their day-to-day lives.
Start a schedule and make sure you follow your guidelines. When working from home, it is important to set boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Wake up at the same time every morning and have a routine that will get your morning going. Make a decision on what it is that is going to start your day – whether it is drinking a cup of coffee or changing out of your pajamas, choose a time and activity that signals it is time to dive into work.
Remote workers often claim that one of the biggest challenges is being able to unplug after hours, so it is just as important to decide a time that you are going to be done working for the day – and stick to it. When you decide you are going to be done working at a certain time, follow your guideline by setting healthy boundaries and turning off notifications for any work-related projects.
How you start and end your workday are both very important to maintaining a routine, but what you do throughout your day is also crucial to maximizing your productivity as you work from home.
Make sure to schedule breaks throughout your day. One study done by the University of Florida discovered that people had better focus and energy for longer periods of time when they worked for 90 minutes followed by 15-20 minute breaks.
It is important to make sure that you are maximizing and properly utilizing your breaks, though. Rather than falling into a social media wormhole of news, set a timer for how long you will allow yourself to get updates on current events. After the timer has expired, use the rest of your break to focus on something beneficial or enjoyable – call and check in on a friend or family member, stretch, pick up a book or make a healthy snack.
When it comes to communications, 59 percent of remote workers claim their biggest challenges come from IT issues during meetings. Take time to get your technology in order. When working from home, apps are often the go-to to continue team communication. From Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting, the options to ensure team communication are abundant, just make sure you have the proper apps and your wifi is up to speed to ensure they run smoothly.
It is also important to make sure you have a solid understanding of expectations for all your projects. When working from home, it can be difficult to gain full knowledge of the project at hand, but make sure to ask plenty of questions. Proper communication between team members and management helps ensure productivity and reduce the risk of missed deadlines.
Finally, dedicate a workspace and know how to keep it to yourself. For some, this may be the kitchen table, an office or even a bedroom. Setting aside a designated space for your workday can help decrease interruptions and help you maintain focus.
While working from home may be new to many, it doesn’t have to be a difficult task and often benefits employers and employees alike. Making sure to follow a routine, take breaks when needed, plan for proper communication and designate a separate workspace can help as you ease into a new work environment.