As more and more companies are already implementing the policy of work from home due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we as employees are trying our best to stay productive and work with the same zeal as we used to in our offices.
Working from home is awesome, until your younger sibling, the parent or pet starts to assume and take things lightly, often inviting you to indulge in leisurely and home activities. And then there is you. Your worst enemy. Because no one's watching you're free to drop those pesky inhibitions.
Since everyone is facing the crisis of lockdown and trying to maintain their sanity by being busy, a nagging thought which is hitting everyone right now is how to stay productive without getting distracted.
Below I've compiled a bunch of great work-at-home tips to help you stay focused and productive.
15 Tips to Stay Productive at WFH
- Perfect Morning Routine
Everyone should have a morning routine, or else you cannot be woken up every morning by your daily scrum pre-alarm tone rather than your actual alarm. Deciding the morning routine will bring into your habit to set your working hours on a daily basis. It can be anything from having bed tea with spouse, kids or starting early morning day with good jogging, workout, or yoga at home. Concisely, begin your day with positivity and cheerfulness.
Maintain Regular Hours
It is always good to have a schedule that will define your working hours. Working from home often distracts our mind and hence, we are unable to stay productive throughout our shifts. Hence, morning briefing or daily scrum will be best in maintaining regular hours by declaring the task in advance.
Also, filling the internal timesheet, with all basic details of whatever we have done throughout the day will help us in keeping self-tracking mode preparing as well in advance for the next day.
- Access to Proper Workstation
Once we have settled with the idea of ‘Work from home’, it's advisable to have a proper workstation. Definition of ‘proper’ workstation would be related to factors like the cleanliness of surrounding and physical workstation, ergonomics of table and chair for maximum productivity, a well ventilated and lighted space preferably facing a wall or window, as per individual preference, and a location with minimum distraction and noise.
Having a proper workstation will keep us focused and productive. Personally,I recommend a standing table even at home as it avoids continued sitting habits and helps in maintaining the posture as well.
- Take your Mini Breaks
It’s fine if you don't feel your concentration at par, you can surely take a mini-break to refresh your mind and keep a check on the family and household stuff. Watering the plants, making your own coffee, or making your child sleep is some short work that can be completed within small breaks, and will reboot your body to finish up your task while you sit back after the break!
- Communication is the Key
Yes! communication is the most important factor when it comes to working from home. Hence, periodic catch-ups with mentors, managers, and colleagues help you to have a clear understanding and direction towards your goal. It also sometimes assists in breaking down the ice and having a smooth relationship with our superior or subordinate as we aren't physically available for each other. We need to be proactive about nurturing relationships if we want to follow remote culture effectively.
- Attend Daily Briefing Calls
Staying proactive and showing up timely on scrum calls/ any other meeting calls, is one of the most critical activities. As we understand that sometimes working remotely may lead to people working in silos thus reducing the optimal potential of productivity by the team members Therefore, staying connected as a team is extremely important for understanding collective progress and challenges.
- Minimize the use of social platforms during office hours
As we are remotely working employees therefore As per my observation, Srijan’s culture promotes self-discipline and trusts its members on being responsible employees. Even though there are many companies that track the activities of employees through various tracking mechanisms built into their laptops.
Thus, we should be worthy of this huge responsibility which I call as ‘swadharma’ meaning ‘person's swadharma (swa, own, and dharma, duty) is their own unique role in life or way of being in the world, which it is their duty to realize and fulfill’. Therefore, we must undertake self measures to avoid using social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.
- Know When to Stop
Often our client thinks that we are working from home hence we can utilize the commute time also in staying back and can increase our office hours. Saying “no” and defining the timelines is a major thing that should be adopted by all the employees. I have seen people working day and night for their clients just because we are working from home. In this case, it is really important to have an understanding with the client regarding the defined timelines of the finished products.
- Be Proactive
Working remotely requires us to communicate proactively. It's necessary to share our schedules and task list with our subordinates or superiors so that everyone is in sync and there is no expectation mismatch in terms of deliverables and timelines. It’s important to stay proactive and plan tasks depending upon priorities and timelines. Any risk or challenge should be communicated to the team well in advance.
- Health is Wealth
We should stop taking WFH for granted and misuse them as sick leave. Whenever you're feeling sick, talk to your manager and take a day off. Working without being mindful throughout the day will affect your own performance and productivity. It's good to have some rest, talk to your family and if possible or required consult a physician.
- Make Time for Self-care
Work from home should not be taken for granted. We should not let lethargy set in compromising on our self-care time. Meditation, pranayam, various forms of exercises, hobbies, etc. should be practiced on a daily basis within the confines of homes. Being the fitness freak myself, I can simply understand the break in the rhythm of the workout. In the current situation, I realized that while working from home, I can allocate time for my workout sessions without walking the extra mile to the gym.
Self-care can be practiced by pursuing our hobbies such as cooking, reading books, gardening, or simple self 5 mins face or foot or head massage, chanting in short anything that nurtures your mind, body & soul.
- Be Positive
Sometimes, while working remotely, our messages, hangout chats, and written communication may be interpreted incorrectly by others, hence we need to stay positive in every situation without any exception. Remember sentences typed on chat and hangouts don’t carry emotions. We attach emotions to those words depending upon our state of mind, past experiences, and deep, passive biases. Hence, instead of assuming, reach out for your mobile and have a quick call with your colleague. An eye for an eye, only makes the world blind
- Celebrate and Enjoy
Even if you are not able to go out and meet your colleagues and office buddies, not a big deal! Try to celebrate and enjoy and share the things on a call via facetime, zoom etc. Whether it's a team member’s birthday or the arrival of a baby, things should be celebrated. It gives the feeling of togetherness. Don’t forget, human beings are social animals :-)
- Balance Work life and home life together
Setting the instructions for the people near you while you're working from home is very important. Whether it’s our children, family people or our roommate, they should be clear with the understanding that they will not disturb throughout the day during your shift and all work for time being will not be done by you. Keeping the door close, setting the workstation in a calm place or room will work anyway.
- Self Learning Much Needed
It's okay if you're not onboarded on any project yet. Utilize this time in learning and building expertise that will propel your professional growth later. Someone said rightly so, “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry” and hence it's good to learn about upcoming technologies, soft skills that will help take your career to the next level. If you don’t have clarity then have a discussion with your Manager/Mentor about identification of such topics, learning platforms (youtube/coursera/linkedin etc.), cost and priority.
Also, check with HR for any career development or skill development courses or session which could be in the pipeline. Enroll yourself to seminars and webinars and if possible prepare one also so that you can enlighten your colleagues with your knowledge and expertise.
As you adjust yourself and life in lockdown, working from home or remote working can be tough to pull off. These strategies will keep your workdays productive and could help your remote career thrive successfully.