In the modern world, flexibility is everything. This is why we are quite alright with the concept of working remotely. For many of our experts, it’s a time-saver: they don’t have to worry about traffic jams, subway chaos or any other inconveniences they might encounter on their commute to the office. Now, getting to work is as easy as getting up in the morning and walking up to your desk.
Nevertheless, most of our workers prefer to stay in the office to avoid distractions and stay focused. It’s always easier to reach out to a colleague or ask for information in person, instead of working your way through emails and messengers.
But the arrival of COVID-19 left us homebound regardless of our preferences. The shift was not as difficult as one might have thought, yet it still involved challenges and problems that we had to tackle in order to resume our work and recover our productivity.
We’ve decided to share our experience with you, our reader, so you could learn from our approach (and mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes).
Ensure stable internet connection
Working from home means being online 24/7. Therefore, losing contact with your team due to connectivity issues is a huge setback and a good chunk of ruined nerve tissue. So, when you start getting ready to work remotely, make sure that your current Wi-Fi network is up to the challenge. In the current situation, it’s particularly relevant – due to quarantine, internet traffic has increased considerably. From overloaded multiplayer servers to struggling apps, the World Wide Web is adjusting to the sudden surge in traffic. Since it depends on your provider’s tech and preparedness, you can only do the following:
Upgrade your Wi-Fi router. If you haven’t changed your router for 5 years or more, it may not be able to handle the increased load. This may end in your router either giving priority to only one device in your household or simply not being able to connect. So, replacing it with a newer, more efficient model would be a wise move. Updating your router’s software and checking its hardware would also improve your performance.
Run speed tests regularly. Don’t dive into every new working day blindly. Just like brushing your teeth and drinking coffee, checking your internet speed must be an essential part of your morning routine. Many online platforms offer free speed tests, so it should be an easy task. Compare the results against the maximum speed indicated in your package - if you see that your internet performs poorly, turn off all the apps and non-essential software that may be slowing it down.
Use an Ethernet cable. The best way to secure a stable connection would be refusing to rely on your Wi-Fi. By connecting your modem directly to your PC or laptop via an Ethernet cable (usually acquired from your internet service provider), you make your online access much easier and avoid unnecessary delays and connection issues.
Don’t forget about safety! Online security is another benefit of working from the office. You have an expert who already took care of all the anti-malware programs and measures to keep your business data safe and protected. There are also safety policies, written out and laid out before you (at least, this is how we roll in our company). However, when you work from home, you’re the ruler of your castle. Therefore, you’re the one who is responsible for its security and defenses. It’s your goal to protect your company’s data and your private information. Luckily, you’re not alone! Get in touch with the people in charge of the company’s data safety. Ask them for tips and instructions. They would be more than happy to guide you.
Create a working space
Do you believe that you can work from anywhere? Perish the thought. It’s not possible. Nobody is safe from procrastination or distractions, especially if they share their apartment with their roommates / family / spouses / children / etc.
At first, staying at home feels like a boon – you’re in no rush and to hoard all the cookies, you can arrange a coffee break whenever you want and also your loved ones are near. What’s is there not to like about working from home?
Well, this opinion expires pretty fast after Week 2. Whether it’s the feeling that the walls are closing down on you, not being able to catch a breath from your family members/flatmates, being buried under a combination of household duties and business tasks, we all start feeling stuck in the Groundhog’s Day. Every day starts the same way, in the same place, with the same routine. You try to keep it together but end up with the impression that you did too little within a day. You try to organize yourself but distractions keep popping up every now and then. Also, sometimes, your roommates or neighbors equal “working from home” to “having a day off”, so you have to waste more time explaining the difference. It’s excruciating.
How can you avoid all that headache? By refusing to mix housework and your working duties.
Find your spot. Don’t expect to do your work from your kitchen or bedroom or basically anywhere. That negatively affects your concentration. We need to separate work and leisure. When we place ourselves in our working zone, we know that there is no room for distractions and procrastination. Therefore, we are able to establish our boundaries and explain them to our family circle. So, choose one secluded place in your house and make it your office. This way, everybody will know when you’re busy and know not to bother you when you’re there.
Remove everything unnecessary. Don’t be tempted by the comfort of your household. Surrounding yourself with cookie jars, coffee cups and sandwiches is sure nice but would it help you close your KPIs faster? Keep your working corner as tidy and down-to-business as possible. Keep pleasant little things for coffee breaks – if you don’t have anything to look forward to, you won’t be able to motivate yourself properly.
Stick to the schedule. If you work with KPIs and have your tasks and duties organized, it should be the easiest part. Remember your working pattern in the office and repeat it at home. It will bring a much-needed sense of familiarity, allowing you to pick up the pace and recover your working routine.
Keep a diary. For some people, documenting their experiences allows them to get a clear view of their performance and keep everything in check. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks and the overall change of your routine, you can write everything down in a notebook or a Word document instead of letting your concerns or confusion fester within. It will let you figure out the main reason for your low productivity, discuss it with your teams and find a solution.
Know when to take a break
‘What do you mean?’ you might ask ‘If I work from home, I’m taking a break from office already!’
The thing is, when we work in the office, we take a break from our housework. When we do housework, we take a break from the office. This kind of balance makes us appreciate coming back home, enjoying a good meal and watching our favorite shows. Therefore, staying homebound leaves us tired of all the things we used to like. So, when you work from home and don’t feel rested even after closing your laptop and drinking tea on the sofa, it’s okay. It’s normal. We all need a change of scenery to recover our energy and not get nauseated by routine.
How can you do it without violating quarantine?
Get some fresh air. If you leave in the house and have a backyard, take a short stroll. It keeps your head clear and is generally good for your health. Meanwhile, low mobility and staying cooped up in your room would only harm your productivity. If you don’t have a backyard, make sure to venture on the balcony or at least open windows in your working corner. It will make a difference.
Stay in shape. Even if you’re not a fan of fitness, low mobility never helped anyone. Mixing mental and physical excercise protects you from burning out. Even basic yoga will be enough to help you feel refreshed, re-energized and ready to get back to your laptop.
Build a system of rewards and milestones. Everything feels and tastes better when it’s earned. Include small pleasures such as treating yourself to your favorite dessert, watching the next episode of your favorite show or playing your favorite video game to your schedule. Celebrate the end of each week by planning special activities such as cooking new meals or online movie nights with friends. Plan romantic evenings with your significant other every now and then – after all, you get to spend more time together, why not make the most out of it?
Basically, achieving productivity is upheld by three main principles:
Safety. Your personal safety and the safety of your data. From taking care of your health to ensuring the protection of your computer and inbox, you remove all the risks of possible setbacks and achieve peace of mind necessary for bringing the feeling of normalcy and purpose back into your life.
Discipline. Nothing can last long without a structure. Separate yourself from distractions, create a clear working schedule and know when to work and when to rest. Eliminating chaos from your daily routine will help you do more in a shorter time, with no burnouts, all-nighters or breakdowns involved.
Comfort. All work and no play makes us dull and depressed. Relish in the little things you enjoy, reward you with new experiences, stay in touch with your friends and don’t forget to have a good time. You will need your moral resources when the pandemic is over and it’s time to rebuild.
We hope that read helped you with your homebound routine. If you have any tips of your own, we accept guest posts! If you’re looking forward to new materials, click “Subscribe” and get update alerts straight to your mailbox.
Stay safe, stay productive, stay home.