The outbreak of COVID-19 has rattled our day to day lives in unexpected ways. This is especially true, when it comes to our workplaces and work practices. In the interest of public safety and health, many businesses have made the switch to a partial or fully remote workforce. Before you get too excited about clocking in, in your pajamas, ask yourself, “Do I know how to stay productive while working remotely?”
Working remote is far from being a vacation! When taking your work outside of the office, there are extra challenges in maintaining productivity. Check out these five tips to help you stay productive while working remotely.
Keep a Routine
We’d be willing to bet that your work week is defined by some kind of routine. Whether it’s a schedule that helps you balance your family with your work or a morning regimen that has you out the door in time, structure is important. When we’re working from home, there’s less rigid structure in your day, so it’s easy to form bad habits. Keep up with your routine, in order to keep focused!
Stay productive while working remotely by maintaining as much of your normal routine as possible. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. Keep up with your health and fitness practices. If you have a coffee break every day at 3pm, have your coffee break. Allowing our body and mind to go through the familiar motions keeps us in the productive headspace.
Stay in Touch with Colleagues
Keeping in contact with your coworkers is more than just a courtesy, it’s a lifeline. Being active and connected with your team, as you work remotely, keeps you anchored. Communication can keep you productive, in the loop, and accountable for the work you do. It’s also vitally important to socialize, to help avoid burnout and feelings of anxiety. It’s easy to take friendly and professional interaction for granted, until you find yourself spending more time alone.
Staying connected is just as important for your mental health as it is for helping you stay productive and engaged while working remotely.
Take a Break
Seriously. In an office setting, breaks come in small ways like the walk to the break room to grab a cup of coffee or water cooler talk as you wrap up lunch. When working remotely it’s easy to let time get away from you and, with no friendly office distractions, you may become hyper-focused and overwhelmed. Yes, too much focus can be a negative!
The type of hyper-focus that can come from working remotely is a perfect storm for employee burnout. The American Psychological Association reports that employees experience exhaustion and burnout without firmer boundaries, especially when experiencing it for weeks on end. It’s important to stretch your legs and disengage for a second at home, in order to come back refreshed, as it is to do so at the office.
Put on “Real Clothes”
Arguably, the best part of working remotely is the pajamas. However, it’s important that you don’t get too comfortable when working from home. Research has shown that our clothes do more than just improve the way we are perceived by others, they improve how we feel about ourselves.
Staying in the routine of getting properly dressed helps us stay productive while working remotely by putting us in a professional mindset. When dressed professionally, people report feeling more present and engaged. Putting on “real clothes” also helps us establish important work/life boundaries while keeping you connected to the culture of your workplace. Our clothes help us feel better and, therefore, we work better.
Create a Space for Productivity
Just as our clothes and our routines can keep us in a workplace state of mind, our workspace can help us stay productive while working remotely. It has been well-established that our minds need designated spaces to establish healthy boundaries. This is why it’s recommended by researchers not to do any kind of work in your bedroom. The same rules apply to working remotely.
While it may be easy to curl up on the couch or in bed with your laptop, resist the urge! Instead, designate a specific spot where you will complete your work. Make sure it is free of distraction and an area that you can occasionally step away from for a break. Whatever that means for you, cultivate an environment that allows you to maintain work/life boundaries.
Stay Productive While Working Remotely
These are uncertain times that require a great deal of flexibility and resourcefulness. We owe it to ourselves and to our workplaces to stay productive. With these tools and with commitment, we can all continue to do good work and can overcome the challenges of remote work and COVID-19.
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