As of recently, government officials are urging businesses, small and large, to help manage the threat of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) by asking their employees to work remotely rather than coming into the office.
According to a study conducted by the Stanford Business Department, they found a 13% improvement in performance when companies allowed their employees to work from home more often and a 50% drop in yearly resignations from these companies. Although for most companies this work from home procedure is only a temporary measure, it’s comforting to know that employee production can still remain high even from the comfort of our homes — but without the proper focus and tools, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
“In order to stay productive professionals must be aware of their schedules daily and not give way to the ‘at home’ slippery slope that can occur. For instance, having a plan to work from 9-6 or 10-7 and then actually going to a location in their home where they have designated that their work area will make all the difference in the world.” – Christine Beckwith, President & COO of Vision for Success Coaching
Below, we’ve provided some tips and products to help your business maintain or increase productivity, better connect with your teams and reinforce some positivity during this tumultuous time.
Maintain a Regular Schedule
One of the best parts about working from home is that you are in the comfort of your own personal space. It’s also one of the most difficult aspects of working from home due to various distractions and the struggle of recreating your normal in-office routine.
Consider keeping consistent work hours by starting and ending work similarly to how you would in the office. This can be helpful when trying to establish a balance between professional and personal time — and make it easier to detach emotionally and mentally at the end of the day. During the day, take time for yourself by setting aside time to eat lunch or a short coffee break to keep you feeling refreshed and ready to accomplish your daily goals.
A useful tip to help manage your time effectively is to utilize a desk calendar where you can write down your to-do list, schedule short breaks, and track upcoming deadlines and reminders. Keeping track of your priorities and maintaining your schedule is helpful when trying to stay focused throughout the day.
Prepare a Productivity-Focused Workspace
When it comes to working from home, building your workspace and identifying boundaries are helpful toward accomplishing your daily goals. While many people probably enjoy working from their bed, couch or kitchen table, having a dedicated workspace can help you increase productivity and avoid distractions — like pets, children or household chores — that might interfere with your concentration.
By creating a workspace that mimics your office, you are more likely to be able to stay focused and establish a boundary between what feels like home versus work. Also, upholding your normal daily and weekly routine can help you maintain or increase your productivity.
According to the Washington Post, there are a handful of products available to increase productivity and make your at-home office a little more comfortable. Some of these items include a laptop stand, height adjustable desk, moveable armrest, standing mat, and trackpad.
Stay Connected with Your Office
While there are many benefits of working from home, there are some downsides to not working in a traditional office setting. Some of the biggest challenges that many people working in this new environment face are related to communication, such as not being able to easily ask or answer questions to or from their manager, quickly run ideas past co-workers or efficiently execute team meetings.
Scheduling regular check-ins with teammates, managers, and clients can be a helpful way to alleviate the strain caused by physical distance from one another. Utilizing team communication platforms such as Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and various others are efficient ways to virtually bounce ideas between one another and communicate thoughts effectively and in real-time.
If using video conferencing, remember that it is important to maintain a professional appearance to your co-workers. Purchasing a good quality LED ring light and microphone, along with using an appropriate background will remind everyone that you’re still working in a professional setting even while at home.
Influence with a Positive Attitude
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of panic happening in the world today, but remaining positive about this situation is one of the only ways to get through it. It’s helpful to show our employees and co-workers the brighter side of things even when our working environments are transitioning to remote locations.
When communicating with one another it doesn’t always have to revolve around projects and deadlines. Let your team know you’re thinking about them by sending caring emails or chat messages. If you’re helping to keep morale and motivation up, these tactics can also help increase your entire team’s productivity.
In conclusion, despite the lure of staying in your sweatpants and working from the comfort of your bed, we must try to remember that working from home is not a vacation and to act accordingly. There should still be a high level of accountability on each team member regarding missed deadlines, incomplete projects or lack of communication. While this can be a difficult adjustment compared to working in the office, hopefully, these suggestions can help establish a productive work from home plan that works best for you.