While many have been unwillingly thrust into remote work the past year, most have seen its benefits and are more apt to choose this flexible work arrangement when given a choice by their employers. In fact, a Gallup research shows that 44% of U.S. remote workers prefer to work remotely even after restrictions are lifted.
If you are among those considering working from home in the long run, here are some tips to help you work from home effectively and happily.
Tips for good health
1. Keep hydrated and eat healthy
Keep a bottle of drinking water by your desk to stay hydrated during the day. Refill the bottle during your breaks to ensure you get at least 8 glasses of water each day. Also, keep in mind that poor nutrition affects productivity. With snacks and your fridge just a few steps away, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits. If you can’t keep yourself from munching on something while at work, stop buying junk food and stock up on nutritional snacks instead. Make sure your three main meals are also nutritious.
2. Prepare meals the night before
Unlike at the office where you just go to the cafeteria or to restaurants nearby, you’d have to prepare your own lunch at home. For some, this can be a relaxing break from work. But for others, it can be a tedious task that drains their energy so they end up ordering out or skipping lunch altogether. For healthy lunches every day, prepare your meals the night before. This lets you enjoy your lunch break while maintaining a healthy diet.
3. Schedule regular exercise
Instead of using your commute time to get extra sleep or TV time, use it to get some exercise. Walk around the block in the morning or afternoon and pretend to commute to work or back home. If you’re still wary of going outside, run on the treadmill or do some yoga instead. Whichever activity you prefer, include it in your daily schedule to get regular exercise.
4. Take short breaks
Some people swear by the Pomodoro technique where the workday is divided into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks in between. After a couple of hours, a longer 15- to 20-minute break is taken. This trains your mind and body to focus better on work and improve productivity. If this technique doesn’t work for you, just schedule a short break every two hours. Putting a load in the washing machine or drying the dishes doesn’t count as a work break. Grab a cup of coffee and relax on your terrace to avoid burnout.
5. Keep a proper sleep schedule
When you’re at home the entire day, it can be tempting to oversleep or to work at odd hours. But keeping a proper sleep schedule is vital to your health. Whatever time you work, try to get at least 6 straight hours of sleep at a definite time. This will ensure that your mind and body are refreshed every day.
Tips for balancing work and life
1. Coordinate your new family schedule
In the office, you just need to worry about your work schedule during the day. At home, things can be complicated as you juggle everyone else’s schedule. Work schedule tends to become tangled with house chores, errands, kids’ school, meals, and a million other things. To avoid absolute chaos, coordinate the entire family’s schedule over the weekend so your week flows smoothly.
2. Plan breaks with the kids
To help maintain a work-life balance, plan breaks with your kids. Strive to have lunch breaks together so mealtime would be more relaxing. Even if you can’t go out on holidays yet, file your vacation leave during school breaks so the whole family can spend some quality time together free from stress.
3. Set up a dedicated office space
Aside from creating a physical barrier between your workspace and the rest of your home, a dedicated office space also creates a psychological barrier where your brain can switch into work mode. This makes it easier for you to balance work and family life. Ideally, your workspace should be in a separate room where you can close the door. If there’s no such space available, just work consistently at the same desk. Eventually, this will signal the brain when it’s time for work.
4. Separate work time and personal time
Try to create a schedule that’s similar to the one you had when you still worked at the office. This means separating work time and personal time. Don’t spend your breaks folding the laundry or vacuuming the house. Save house chores for when you clock out of work. Let the kids know when your work hours are to avoid being interrupted in the middle of a meeting or an important task.
Tips to improve productivity
1. Be creative with your schedule, but make it consistent
One of the perks of remote work is the freedom it allows when setting work schedules. You are not confined to a 9-to-5 schedule and can work at the time where you are most productive. You can work late in the morning, late at night, or whenever you feel most energetic in the day. However, make sure to keep your schedule consistent. This not only makes it easier for co-workers to get in touch with you but also increases the chances of getting all your work done efficiently.
2. Dress up for work
Pajamas and sweatpants may be comfortable, but they can make you feel sluggish. Maintain your productivity by getting dressed for success. Wearing office attire signals your brain to switch to work mode and makes you feel more capable.
3. Minimize Distractions
The television, your comfy bed, kids playing, food in the fridge – there are so much more distractions at home than in the office. While you can’t avoid all of them, you can do some things to minimize them. Unplug your television during your work hours. Close the door to your home office or inform the kids to keep away from your work area while you’re at work.
4. Set daily and weekly goals
One way to keep from slacking off at work is to set goals that can keep you focused. Set daily and weekly goals, then hold yourself accountable for accomplishing them. To avoid being overwhelmed, break them down into chunks and monitor your progress.
5. Plan your workflow
Maintain high levels of productivity by planning your workflow before your day starts. Prioritize tasks, allot appropriate time for each task, and schedule breaks. Even if you have flexible work hours, structure your day just as you would if you were in the office.
Here are some of the top tips to transition to long-term or permanent work from home.
Tips to work from home effectively in the long run
1. Setup and manage expectations
If you are planning to go permanently remote, the first thing you should do is ensure that remote work is something that will work for all of your employees. While some businesses may find that all of the employee roles can be moved to remote work, others might have a section of roles that just can’t go remote.
Moreover, it’s also important to get feedback from employees to understand whether they are on board with your permanent remote work policy or not. You need to articulate the main purpose of the company going remote and envision what the new system would look like to get everyone on board.
At the same time, you need to ask yourself the main questions about how your company will handle the assets:
- How will you organize different functions and business processes?
- How will you streamline communication and collaboration?
- Will the employees work from the same time zone or different?
- What are the main remote tools and technologies that you will use?
- How will you ensure individual productivity and team collaboration?
2. Create communication guidelines
Communication is one of the biggest challenges remote teams face. You want employees to feel encouraged to reach out to their colleagues in order to collaborate effectively, but at the same time, you want to ensure that employees don’t feel too overwhelmed with excessive emails, messages, and calls coming their way.
As a result, you need to create specific communication guidelines so that remote employees feel comfortable enough to collaborate with their team members and still have enough space for uninterrupted productive work.
Here are some common communication best practices for remote work:
- Keeping track of every team member’s time zones and working hours
- Creating a shared calendar for the team and deciding whether the employees need to work a fixed number of hours every day or they have the flexibility to create their own schedule
- Sharing the main communication and collaboration tools to be used by employees and their main purpose
- Limiting the number of emails employees send to each other
- Creating separate channels for formal and informal communication
3. Maintain transparency
Keeping all the work visible can be challenging with a growing remote workforce. Lack of transparency can eventually make employees feel mistrusted and disengaged.
With no way to interact with their colleagues face to face, employees may not know what their counterparts are up to. This can lead to trust issues and communication problems within the team. On the other hand, if you can build remote transparency, employees always know what their other colleagues are up to, they feel more responsible, engaged, and involved.
4. Create a remote community
Even with all the perks, remote work can feel rather lonely and isolating. According to a report, loneliness is one of the biggest struggles faced by remote employees.
Just staring at a screen in an empty room, month after month, can degrade employee morale and eventually affect their work. This makes it all the more important to foster a healthy work culture and create a remote community of sorts. Without a space for personal interaction and ongoing feedback, employee engagement and motivation can quickly fizzle out.
A good way to create a strong remote community is by routinely organizing virtual team building activities. You can set up casual communication channels where team members can interact and get to know each other in a more personal way. Even the smallest of these actions can go a long way in strengthening relationships and building trust.
5. Use the right tools for remote work
Technology is the reason why remote work is even possible and without the right tools by your side, even the best plans to go permanently remote can eventually fail. Moreover, just offering your employees a laptop and a stable internet connection, and expecting them to work efficiently does not always work. Your remote employees need the right remote work tools to manage their work and collaborate effectively.
Instead of overwhelming employees with too many tools and applications, you can introduce a digital workplace platform to manage all workflows, data, conversations, projects, and processes through a centralized dashboard.
6. Continuous feedback mechanisms make the transition easier
In order to continuously improve your organization’s remote work checklist, you need to continuously get feedback from employees. After all, your employees are the best people to tell you what improvements need to be made in order to improve productivity and efficiency.
It’s good to take your time to develop a well-thought-out remote work strategy to make the transition easier. Focus on promoting togetherness and digital remote work culture in your long-term remote plan to ensure all the employees feel included and valued even when they don’t get to have enough face-to-face interactions with their colleagues and superiors.
Fulfillment at Work and at Home
Whether you were unwillingly thrust into working from home or given an option to do so, this work arrangement can work well for you and your family. You just need to develop discipline, manage your schedule well, and utilize tools for productivity. Once you get the hang of it, you can be just as efficient and effective at your job wherever place you are working.