With the spread of the COVID-19, the advice given to businesses across Australia is for employees to work from home where possible.
We would expect to some extent, the majority of Australians will be following these guidelines in the coming days.
Luckily, the team at Stopgap frequently work remotely, and with plenty of experience comes some useful tips to help you stay productive outside the office.
Wake up at a normal time, and follow a routine (to some extent)
Although this one seems pretty obvious, it may be tempting to capitalise on the saved commuting time to get a bit more sleep. Waking up at your normal time will help your body prepare for the day ahead as it would normally, and regulates your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock - which has an effect on everything from mood, fatigue levels and heart function.
It is important to keep some elements of your normal routine consistent, such as showering and changing out of your pyjamas. This will help your body wake up and get your mind ready for a productive day.
Set up a work station
Some people who work from home regularly may have a designated space or even a home office which they would normally work from. However, if this is all new to you, we recommend setting up a dedicated place to work, such a desk or dining table, over the couch or your bed. There is also a massive benefit to having a good chair to support you ergonomically, rather than sitting on a couch or a bed. If you prefer to stand, a makeshift standing desk can be improvised with an ironing board to stop the stress of sitting all day on your back.
Following this tip will help to maintain a “work” state of mind and help you keep your personal and work time seperate. It can also help you set boundaries with other people in the house to avoid distractions.
We are social creatures - so it is important to maintain communication with your colleagues and clients where possible. Whilst it is easy to reduce dialogue to just emails, we think it is beneficial to pick up the phone or schedule a video meeting and have a chat to stop you feeling isolated. Many also find scheduling a call early in the day has a positive effect on working through your to-do list.
Whilst these conversations can have a positive effect on your wellbeing, it leaves no room for your words via email being misconstrued or misunderstood.
Although you have the flexibility to take breaks whenever, setting out a schedule for the day and adhering to your breaks can keep you in a productive frame of mind. It also presents an opportunity to get out of the house, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
We know working through your lunch whilst at home is easy. So, If your usual lunch break is an hour, tools such as Timeout (Mac) or Smartbreak (Windows) can lock your computer for an allocated amount of time.
These tools make sure you get the full duration of your breaks and maintain a normal work life balance.
Food & Hydration
Choosing food which will give you energy, rather than take it away is a sure fire way to remain productive. Whilst it can be easier than ever to snack whilst at home, you should try keep your sugar and caffeine consumption at a regular level. As always, drinking plenty of water is essential to keep you focussed (as well as countless other benefits).
Moving away from your work station to eat will help you get some time away from your tasks, and also boosts oxygen to your brain and lungs. This clears your thoughts and will allow you to approach your tasks with a fresh mind on your return.
Creating a “to-do” and a “don’t do” list
Everybody has different ways of working, but one of the most common things that all of our consultants do, regardless of work styles is to make a list.
A “to do” list will help you structure your day ahead and keep you on track. A “don’t do” list will help you stay focussed and avoid the things that will distract you. Whilst at home, you’re in amongst a number of distractions like housework and the TV - having this “don’t do” list written down will help you stay clear of these and remain productive.
Tools of the trade
We’ve already touched on the likes of Google Hangouts and Zoom as an important tool to maintain some level of social interaction. We also recommend utilising any cloud-based storage software such as google drive to enable file sharing amongst your team.
Canva, the free graphic design tool, will give you and your team opportunity to collaborate on designs, and the likes of 1Password, Microsoft, Google and Slack have offered premium features for free in response to an increase of people working from home
If you’re interested in more information on ways to remain productive at home - LinkedIn have developed some online learning on this topic, which we highly recommend.