In the digital age, many employees have been required to work from home – and with outbreaks such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), these requirements have become much more common.
For many workers, however, this is a completely new experience.
This begs the question: how do you stay safe, sane, and productive while working from home?
In this article, we’ll look at five tips that can help.
How to Work from Home Productively, Sanely, and Safely
The following tips can help workers who are new to remote working – or who are having trouble staying productive.
1. Control your environment
A work environment can have an enormous impact on productivity, efficiency, and morale, which is why it is important to control one’s environment.
There are a number of ways to do this:
- Set up a home office
- Have the right tools and equipment
- Decorate appropriately
- Stay professional
One of the major problems with working from home is that people associate their home environments with non-work activities. This can make it difficult to concentrate and focus.
However, by effectively managing one’s own private workspace, it is possible to stay focused and more easily reduce distractions (see below).
2. Manage your time
Time management is difficult enough at work, but when one works from home, it takes on a different dimension.
When an employee has complete control over their own schedule, it can be difficult to…
- Wake up at the right time
- Start working at the right time
- Keep track of and manage time-sensitive activities
There are a number of techniques that can help:
- Keep a clock on the desk
- Download time management apps
- Maintain a rigid daily schedule, including break times and a lunch break
- Start and finish the workday punctually
In short, whether working from home or the office, it is important to stay disciplined about time management.
3. Prevent distractions
Distractions can reduce engagement and make it far more difficult to concentrate.
There are a number of things that can prove distracting, including:
- Friends and family
In order to stay productive, it is critical to mitigate distractions as much as possible.
One way to do this is by controlling the environment, as covered above.
If a room is available for use, then it should be transformed into a private office.
However, there are other techniques that can help:
- Establish rules and boundaries for family members
- Keep distracting pets in other parts of the house
- Wear headphones to block out outside noise
- Only use social media during pre-scheduled time blocks
- Turn off distracting media, such as television or the radio
Naturally, what one person considers a distraction may not be considered distracting by another.
It is best to understand one’s own desired level of background stimulation, then adjust the work environment to suit.
4. Work securely
When working remotely, it is important to maintain IT security.
There are a number of precautions that should be taken:
- Avoid using public wifi when possible. Public wifi, such as wifi from hotels or cafes, are the least secure wifi spots. Minimize the use of these spots if possible, or use a VPN to secure traffic.
- Use a VPN to encrypt internet traffic. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt all internet traffic from end to end. In other words, hackers or cyber criminals cannot read data that is transmitted through wifi networks or across the internet.
- Follow workplace security protocols even at home. It is more important than ever to follow workplace security protocols, even at home. For instance, only use work applications to discuss work topics, never share passwords, and always adhere to established IT procedures.
Staying secure is just as important as staying productive. By taking the proper precautions, workers can prevent dangerous data breaches that could compromise the entire organization.
5. Combat feelings of isolation
Feelings of isolation can be a problem for those that work from home.
To combat this:
- Proactively schedule social time with friends and family
- Interact with friends and coworkers online
- Join social networks (without letting those social networks interfere with work)
- Understand the difference between solitude and isolation, and know one’s own boundaries
Loneliness and feelings of isolation can be a real problem.
Perhaps the biggest problem, however, is not understanding one’s own social needs. By meeting those needs first, either through online socialization, offline socialization, or both, it will be easier to concentrate when working from home.
Working from home can take getting used to and it is not always easy.
Any number of factors can interfere with productivity, from distracting family members to feelings of loneliness.
Many remote workers suffer from lower productivity because they fail to tackle these problems proactively.
However, by implementing many of the ideas discussed here, it is possible to improve performance and – just as importantly – one’s morale.