Managing between two disrupted routines to bring a healthy balance between work and home – is this the new normal? Yes, it certainly is! The year 2020 has been a life-changing period in many aspects, out of which work from home is one such trend that has certainly gained popularity. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rule our lives, professionals in almost every industry are forced to welcome this new normal to not only follow & maintain the social distancing norms but also to actively stay in the market and subsequently bring business.
We are being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and it hasn’t been easy.
According to a recent survey by SARP Concur, more than 88% of the workforce in India have started to prefer work from home because of its flexibility, while 69% believes that their productivity has been considerably increased while working remotely. So, it would not be wrong to say that this transition—which was introduced as a temporary fix—has been proved to be effective in many ways because of advancements in communication technology and internet access. More and more companies are seen as becoming comfortable with it and adopting it as a new work culture. However, every coin has two sides and so does the concept of ‘work from home’. It may seem to be enticing, at first, as you are supposed to do everything at your convenience, but talking to your clients and simultaneously working on some urgent project from your kitchen table while the kids make noises in the living room isn’t a welcoming move and surely does not offer a comfortable work environment. A lot of unique challenges come with work from home, though they vary from person to person.
For remote workers, the need to improve collaboration is more pressing. This is a wonderful position to be in, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility.
Below is a list of 12 proven tips & techniques from the experts that can help you drive a better output when you have got to adjust to the concept of work from home:
#1- Set up a Dedicated Workspace
Imagine you are typing an email with your one hand as your baby is climbing all over you. Or, you have managed to choose a peaceful corner of your home to answer some scheduled calls but as soon as you start making them, your maid comes knocking on the door to clean the room. Relatable scenarios? This is why dedicating a proper workspace even at your home becomes so important. A dedicated workspace helps you to block out potential distractions and further increase your productivity level. It just does not only enable you to keep your personal and professional life separate but also trains your brain to enter ‘work mode’ and focus whenever you are at the location. When you can work without any interruption, it helps to accomplish your tasks on time.
#2- Stick to your Decided Schedule
The idea of working from home can become tempting as it gives you the flexibility to wake up whenever you want and work till the time you desire. However, this is a highly undisciplined way to operate and is bound to lead to failures. To perform well and achieve your targets, you need to set a manageable schedule and stick to it. Deciding the hours of your work and the breaks at the beginning of the day according to the work schedule will make it a lot easier for you to stay focused and on-task.
#3- Develop Consistency in Results
When you go to the office daily, your physical presence plays a vital role which may even help you, sometimes, in getting away by not reporting your work to your boss. However, this is not the case in work from home. When you work remotely, you need to make your work visible to others in the company. The need to deliver your results becomes necessary and higher at the same time since nobody is watching you all the time to really know if you’re working. The urge in you to become result-driven will automatically lead to an increase in your productivity.
#4- Make Sure you are Available over a Call
Communication becomes indispensable when working from home. Since you are not meeting your boss or co-workers, it is easy to feel unassisted and experience a cut off from the company. So, make sure that you are available over a call during work hours to foster relationships with everyone in the company. This practice will keep you connected to your team members and maintain a constant sense of belongingness in you to keep your mind healthy & positive.
#5- Don’t Compromise on “Comfort”
Make your work environment comfortable so that you can daily do your work efficiently. Here are a few tips:
- Remember to invest in quality furniture that is created keeping in mind your efficiency and comfort. Doing so will bring significant improvement in your work.
- Allow the natural light to enter your room so that your working experience becomes more enjoyable.
- Bring a good pair of headphones so that they can be worn all day while blocking out noises from the background and productivity-boosting jams in your ears when you’re on calls for long hours.
- Take breaks throughout the day to allow your brain to rest and re-energize. This will allow you to pour more creativity into your work and consequently improve your concentration to boost productivity.
#6- Organize your Technology
Is setting up a comfortable workplace enough to working interruptedly? No. because comfort and technology go hand in hand. Having a comfortable room to sit and work is not enough till you have the technology in place. Firstly, internet connection and an economical phone plan are the musts for undisturbed communication to take place. However, when you are working from home, you also need to invest in video conferencing tools to converse with potential clients and demonstrate to them your work without travelling. This form of communication gives a more personal touch than a phone call or email. Some of the top video conferencing tools available today are:
- Zoom- Zoom is one such conferencing tool whose usage has soared during the pandemic. With tools like HD audio & video, recording, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, etc., Zoom has emerged to be the top choice of any working professional today.
- Skype- This tool lets you make international free calls and host meetings for up to 100 people for audio/video conferencing on any device. The other unique features like screen sharing, call recording, and subtitle & translator services make it a feasible option to allow people to chat worldwide with their co-workers or friends.
- Google Meet- Anyone with a Google account is eligible to create free meetings of up to 100 people that is not time-bound via Google Meet. The incredible features such as the unlimited number of meetings, live captioning during meetings, adaptable layouts & screen sharing, etc., make this tool easily accessible.
#7- Focus on Expanding your Business
The global economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, as a result of which many businesses are still struggling to cope with the financial strain. Hence, they are not fully operational. So, it is best to utilize your energy on prospecting instead of focusing on selling your company. Network & connect with people on different social media platforms and try to engage with them by commenting on their posts so that once things settle, you are in a position to immediately get back to your prospective clients to take the deal forward.
#8- Sort out the Tough Tasks First
How do you organize your tasks in a day? It is always a good idea to start your day with activities that require decision-making since your mind is most alert and productive within the first few hours of waking up. The quality of your decisions is likely to deteriorate with passing hours of the day and thus, there are fair chances of you developing recklessness and frustration. The decision-making process in the morning allows you to prioritize the tasks well. Additionally, it does not let you procrastinate unnecessarily for a long time.
#9- Shift your Focus from Time to Energy
Do you perform all your tasks by counting minutes/hours of the day? If yes, you must have been observing that this practice is draining all your energy. This is why you should start managing your energy, instead of performing all your tasks watching the clock, since it is something in your control. Incorporate a 15-20 minutes’ walk into your work schedule to rejuvenate your brain once again. This suggestion may seem to be a bad idea at first as you will be required to tear yourself away from the work you are urgently supposed to complete, but it will help you increase your energy. Giving your eyes the rest from continuous screen time is also necessary for better focus during the rest of the day.
#10- Initiate to Collaborate via Enterprise Social Network
Different ideas and innovations can crop up at any time of the day; side conversations before & after meetings, chats during lunches, drinks, or any other random get-together. These interactions do not take place when you are working from home. So, the usage of various networking techniques can help re-create that collaboration. The tools like Social Intranet, Flock & Yammer bring and connect the employees of an organization to develop an engaging and productive workplace. The centralized platform also makes sharing informative documents and conducting group chats possible without being physically present.
#11- Don’t Forget to Take Time Out for Random Conversations
Over the past few years, research has shown that the individuals with stronger social relationships are likely to increase their chances of survival by 50%. However, work from home does not allow you to chat and establish & maintain human connection. So, it becomes imperative to make time daily to connect with colleagues via call, text, or social media to maintain a sense of normalcy in relationships. Additionally, you must spend more time with family & children to keep your optimism boosted throughout the day. These small gestures may not develop social isolation in your mind and further keep it healthy & balanced.
#12- Appreciate, Recognize & Celebrate the Efforts of your Co-workers
Imagine you are burning the candle at both ends to make an impressive presentation for the new pitch. However, you receive no appreciation even when your company gets the client on roll. Will you be able to show the same dedication to your next task?
It is no surprise that appreciation and recognition play an integral role in keeping us motivated and connected to the organization. A small recognition of efforts with some encouraging incentives or a thank-you note or giving shout-outs at regular meetings helps boost productivity & morale. With the endless possibilities available, you should keep finding new ways to show the same respect and admiration to your employees, as you would have certainly liked it.