Whether you are new to Home Office working or a seasoned remote working pro, here’s what you need to know to keep productive
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that here at pascom, we are very heavy users of our pascom business communications tools. Back in 2015, we wrote an article about remaining effective whilst working in Home Office and given the current situation affecting us all, we thought it prudent to update it to reflect the needs of today. As a specialist telephony and unified communications platform developer, we have switched to 100% Home Office working and it’s not been so difficult as most of our workforce is accustomed to working from home at least once a week. Some of our team are even permanent remote workers and over the years we have adapted how we work as our toolset has evolved.
Create a Professional Environment
For some, this will be the most challenging aspect of working from home. Not everyone has the space to set up an office at home. The kids are home, your partner will also need to work, not everyone lives in the country with a decent sized garden and in the southern hemisphere it’s nearly winter - but we’re all in the same boat, seasoned veteran or not, so we will all have to figure it out together.
Your Home Office
If you have an office, then use it. Having a Home Office provides the perfect balance between your professional and personal life. If you do not have space, create one as best you can; tucked away in the corner of the living room, even hang a curtain as a divider. It may seem strange, but two of the hardest aspects of working from home is setting boundaries and knowing when to call it a day. At the end of the day, not having to look at your laptop will mean you can unplug, which is essential to be able to unwind and refresh.
Just as “out of sight, out of mind” applies to the feeling of loneliness whilst working from home and therefore makes video collaboration essential, it also applies to your workspace. If can set physical boundaries you should as these will also help with other aspects of working from home, such as providing a distinction between when you’re on the clock and when you’re not.
Routine and Attire
Try to keep to your routine as best you can. Good hygiene is always important, these days more than ever. So have a shower, wash your hands and face, do all the things you would do on a “normal” day before heading to the office. Having a routine provides structure around which you can plan your day. There may be reasons that mean it is not possible for you to keep to your previous routine, so create a new one that works.
Another top tip is dress appropriately. No matter how appealing it might sound and no matter how comfortable it may be, lounging around in pyjamas will not motivate many people to be in the right mindset to be productive. We are not advocating shirt and tie, but smart casual is perfectly acceptable and more than comfortable.
Evidence shows, that by maintaining a routine, dressing appropriately and planning your day will kick your mind into “work mode”, making it easier to stay focused and effective.
Avoid Distractions but Be Flexible
Under the current circumstances, this is the one issue that is going to affect most people. Depending on where you are in your life (single, married, kids, career power couple, etc.), avoiding distractions is going to be an issue for everyone to some degree or other. Just this morning, I was talking to the boss on the phone and his kids could be heard in the background as could my kids. Three weeks ago this would have been (almost) unheard of, but now will be commonplace as people adapt and come to terms with our new way to work.
If, like me, both you and your partner work and you have kids you are going to have to work it out between yourselves when each of you does the bulk of your work and then make sure your respective bosses are okay with your arrangements. Your arrangement will likely be determine by the type of job you have. For example, a teacher will stick to the traditional school day, Marketing can be more flexible, and so on. Either way, If you don’t figure out your daily routine the kids are going go stir crazy and drive you both mad.
Take Regular Breaks
For me, one of the toughest things about working in Home Office is ensuring that you take enough breaks. The issue here is the stigma that has surrounded working from home and the perception from many that Home Office really means pyjamas, sofa, and generally not doing very much. This has resulted in Home Office workers being reluctant to take breaks and this counter intuitive and counter-productive.
We all know that sitting at your desk all day is not actually that productive and by having a good routine means you don’t have to be afraid to take a break, have some water, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. Moreover, taking a break will also break up the montony and will also ensure greater harmony in the household, particularly if you have kids.
Back in our original post back in 2015, we argued for being sociable but not on social media. This is not going to be an option for a while, so get the phone out and chat with friends and family online, use video calls for that invaluable face-to-face contact. In your professional life, use video as a means of replacing the visual contact that the office environment previously provided.
As we mentioned above, one of the hardest things about working in Home Office is the feeling of loneliness and this feeling is only going to be exaggerated through-out this challenging time. Therefore,
Call It A Day
There is plenty of research out there that shows Home Office workers work longer hours. An example can be seen with in the fact that it appears workers in the US have logged on average an extra three hours since the #WorkFromHome movement gain momentum on March 11th. It is so tempting to just finish that article or work a bit more on a project and while this is great for productivity in the short term, long-term it will wear you out. So when the day is done, close the door, get some fresh air and do some exercise. All of these serve to simulate everyone leaving the office and will have the effect of drawing a line between work and private life.
Saving the most important to last, a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet have always been important and now that our movement is being restricted, it is even more important to eat healthily, stay hydrated, stay sociable, get some exercise, and get enough rest. Strike the right balance and you will keep your mind sharp and therefore remain productive as we all work together to get through this challenging period.
We’re here to help
There are many more tips to follow including which tools to use, the ergonomics of the ideal Home Office plus what you need for the perfect setup (check out this post from from 2018). Join us next week as we take a look at our tips for virtual team managers.
If you would like to know more about how pascom can help your business throughout this difficult time and beyond, then give us a call (+49 991 291691 200) and get started with our free cloud phone system edition.
In the meantime, remember we’re all in this together, so keep calm, wash your hands and stay healthy.