The developing Coronavirus crisis is affecting all aspects of society, including how we do our jobs. In response to the Government recommendations to work from home where possible, many companies are asking their workforce to embrace remote working until the crisis decreases.
Remote working will be new to many people and will, undoubtedly, take some getting used to.
Not having your usual commute to the office or workplace will mean you will have more time in your day. However, remote working also means it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and driven to get as much out of your time as you would typically do in the workplace.
At Hedgehog, with offices for our digital marketing agency in Bedford, Cornwall and Sao Paolo, we embraced remote working several years ago. So, based on our experience, we thought we’d share four of our tried and tested suggestions to keep yourself productive while working remotely from home.
1. Routines to put you in ‘work mode’
A regular day at your workplace would involve getting dressed and ready for the day before travelling to your place of work; this everyday routine prepares your brain for a day at work.
When you’re working from home, you can create routines that similarly prepare you for the day ahead. Simple things like brewing a coffee, taking a stroll or watching the news bulletin can help to create a routine and prepare you for the day ahead.
A clearly defined work area is also essential.
You might be one of the lucky few who can be focused anywhere no matter the outside distractions. However, many of us need a bit more structure.
Setting up a designated work zone — whether it’s in a separate room, an office desk, or just clearing the dining or kitchen table — can help you feel like you are in work mode and help you be productive and reduce distraction.
This can be especially important if you’re working from a home you share with other people. Being respectful of each other’s workspaces will help everyone to stay focused on the work they have to complete and create a harmonious home working environment.
2. Keep on track with a task list
A task list can help keep you on track to stay productive when you work from home.
Everyone will have a different preference for how they structure their lists based on how they work best, but it’s always useful when you build your list to break it down into sections.
One great way to do this is to have two columns, urgent and non-urgent. Then split those columns into two rows and label them important and not important.
You’ll end up with fours squares, from which you can quickly and easily see the main focus of your tasks for the day.
As you tick off your tasks, you know you’re making progress, which will work to give you a positive feeling of accomplishment throughout your day.
Another great benefit of creating a task list is that, if you’re feeling at all overwhelmed by how much you have to do, listing them can make tasks feel much more achievable as they are broken down.
3.Communicate with your housemates
If there are other people you share your living space with, letting them know that you are working from home, and the hours you’ll be working, can help to free you from distractions during the day.
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly free to help them around the house or stop for an afternoon Netflix session. If you were at the office they wouldn’t ask you to pop to the supermarket, hang a picture or steam clean the hallway carpet, and nor should they now the kitchen table is your temporary workspace.
If you’re working from home and others are around, let them know if they can interrupt you or not. Bringing you a coffee and discussing the news for two minutes can be great; but if you’re on a deadline, you could do without it. As with everything in this current environment, communication and setting clear boundaries is key.
Modern technology has made remote working a breeze for those lucky enough to have a job which can be carried out from home.
Real-time messaging apps, like Slack, and video conferencing services, such as Skype and Zoom, can help you stay in touch with your team throughout the day.
Email is often the go-to communication method for remote working and can be sufficient for making an official decision or passing on a bulk of information. But for conversations where there’s going to be a lot of short messages flying backwards and forwards, people’s inboxes can quickly get clogged up.
If you need to ask a quick question or send a notice to your entire team, messaging apps like Google Hangouts or Slack are an excellent alternative to email.
Sometimes, if something is very detailed or too nuanced to put down in a typed message, talking face to face can help with collaboration and communication.
In these instances, video conferencing is an excellent way to communally share updates with your team or customers.
Services such as Whereby, Skype and Zoom can help you stay in touch with your team and are very easy to use.
And, where appropriate, don’t neglect the simple act of picking up the phone. A quick couple of minutes on the phone with someone can save a lot of time and effort when explaining a particularly detailed task or giving a summary of your day’s accomplishments.
Key takeaways for remote working
For almost every team, the developing concern around COVID-19 and the shift of workplaces into remote work poses new challenges.
The tips shared here can help you, and your team to keep moving forward in this new landscape and stay on top of working remotely.
If you’re looking to use the time in lockdown to freshen up some neglected digital marketing skills or pick up something new, our guide to the best free online courses can help.