How the very notion of work has been disrupted by the pandemic over the last year has been stunning. The idea that work is location-centric has now been changed, potentially forever. With working from home regularized, now the onus is on how to make it productive.
But this doesn’t strictly mean creating more output. It means creating a balance between your work life and your personal life. It also means devoting specific time and resources to work while allowing adequate time for family life.
To make it easy for everyone hopping on and off Zoom calls, here are five ways to make working from home more productive and balanced.
5 ways to make working from home more productive
1. Create a schedule
Usually, a weekday is associated with waking up to a set alarm, getting out of your home by a specific time, and reaching the office before it’s late. There are specific triggers that force you to abide by the routine. You know if you leave early, you’d be able to avoid rush hour traffic.
When working from home, the lack of a routine can cause problems. When no one’s checking your attendance, it’s easy to be lax about your schedule.
So the first thing you’ve got to do is create a routine for working from home. There should be a start time and a finish time. Those are your dedicated office hours. Your family members should be told that unless it’s urgent, you’re not to be disturbed during those hours.
But working from home doesn’t mean that you should always be available. At an organizational level, it’s important for management to communicate these set hours to its team members.
2. Design your workspace
Our cubicles and workstations are powerful cues for us to focus on our work. While working from home, it’s easy to be distracted because of the lack of this professional setting. The key to solving it is to find a space that you can customize as a workstation.
It could be your dining table or a small desk with your laptop. What’s important is to remove all clutter from your immediate surroundings. Minimal is the way to go. Ensure that your desk doesn’t have anything other than your computer and a notebook if needed.
Since it’s the season of video calls, you should also make sure that your background looks professional. Along with it, see if there’s any ambient sound that would distract you from work. Finally, where you sit for most of the day should be well-lit and roomy.
3. Get the right tech
Working from home has several advantages, including, flexibility and lack of travel. But it doesn’t have something that every employee is used to; a sound IT infrastructure and support team.
Your office guarantees that you’d have an uninterrupted and fast internet connection. If there’s a problem, you can always reach out to the IT team and they’ll take care of it. If your computer is slow or if you can’t transfer files through the network, they’re there to help.
But at home, you’re on your own. So you should ensure that your internet connection is steady and reliable and that your computer has enough memory. It’s also helpful to get your IT team to scan your computer for any problems remotely and suggest solutions.
Also, check your microphone, speakers, and the lighting in your room. Adjust them until you find the optimum setting for video calls.
4. Be physically active
Considering the fact that most of the healthcare community has been focused on fighting the pandemic and getting everyone vaccinated, it’s understandable that there’s been no study on the physical effects of working from home. But it’s safe to assume that the shift has made people more sedentary than before.
Unlike in the work from office model, employees now don’t have to step out of their homes, find public transport or drive, walk to their offices, walk around to meet colleagues, attend meetings or get coffee, and then drive or take transport to reach home.
To put it mildly, we’ve stopped moving around. This has profound implications for our metabolism and overall health. The worst part? The effects won’t show all of a sudden.
To counter that, you’ve got to be physically active while working from home. On the plus side, let’s not forget that you’ve more time on your hands now. So, set aside half an hour in the morning or evening for exercise.
Pro tip: See if your company can subsidize the fees for any online health classes or virtual trainers that you can get.
5. Schedule breaks
It’s ironic that most people are working more from home than when they were in their offices. That’s because there is no visible signal to switch off from work. This leads to overwork and fatigue. But merely taking breaks isn’t the solution.
You have to actively schedule and manage them. A break doesn’t mean you get to open another tab and scroll social media. It means you have to get up from your workspace every hour and go for a short walk to the kitchen or the balcony.
Try not to use your phone during that five-minute break. What you need are repeated breaks away from your screens. Similarly, at the end of the day, see if you can spend some time in your balcony or yard or go for a short walk.
The fortunate among us who have the option to do our jobs from the confines of our homes have become used to it. Nobody was trained for it but everyone’s found ways to make it work.
With the economy opening up, most of us will have to slowly get back to our offices or opt for a hybrid model. But some could still be working from home for a while. So, it helps to find ways to be productive while taking care of our health and peace of mind.