2020 has brought an enormous amount of change to our daily lives, as we have been forced to continually adjust our lifestyle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have transitioned employees into working from home scenarios as a means to minimize unnecessary contact and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Working from home brings about new challenges when it comes to finding a work-life balance. In many ways, working from home has introduced more convenience and flexibility into the workday.
There have been many perks for employees who have transitioned to remote work, such as
saying goodbye to a daily commute. A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School found that companies that give employees more autonomy in their roles to work independently and flex hours while working remotely actually find an increase in employee productivity, reduced turnover, and lower organizational costs (1).
How to Enhance productivity While working from Home
If you have adjusted to remote work over recent months, here are a few key strategies to enhance productivity when working from home. Remote work has created a work- life parallel, as individuals juggle responsibilities on both the work and home front. Whether you are dealing with children’s schedules, caring for other family members, pets, or other external distractions in your environment -working from home can present a unique set of challenges.
Stay Connected. Communicate with co-workers and reach out for support. When working remotely you may not be having the same kind of daily interactions you would be if you were working in the office or on the job site. This at times could feel like a bit of a disconnect. Depending upon your position- working remotely may require you to reach out for more support from co-workers. Take time to connect via Zoom or Facetime and share work experiences. Make sure you take time to ask for clarification on previous conversations, when required. Collaborating and communicating with co-workers via online platforms will help to maintain connections and build positive rapport.
Effective break times. Remote work often means an unconventional schedule, with employees having more freedom to adjust their work hours/ scheduling. It is important to
re-define how you effectively break throughout the day. Breaks are imperative for enhancing productivity and mental clarity during the workday. Incorporating movement and stretch breaks periodically throughout the workday will help to energize you. Movement will release endorphins (happy hormones) and help to increase mental clarity. Get out for a brisk walk in the fresh air, or take short 5- 10 min breaks throughout the workday to fit in movement, gentle stretching, or moderate exercises. This will boost mood, morale, and help to focus the mind.
Block out your schedule. Set pre-determined work hours and break times. Use your google calendar or shared work calendar to notify co-workers of your schedule. This will help to avoid overbooking time in the day and prioritizing agenda items. Keep clearly defined work hours. This will help with structuring your day and setting up virtual meeting times. Another productivity tool to use could be to set a timer on your smart phone. A timer can be used to monitor your work productivity and set a reminder for scheduled breaks.
Work Environment. Set yourself up for success by creating a conducive work environment. Depending upon the space in your home or remote setting you may be limited. Here are simple ways to create a supportive at home workspace. Clear the clutter. Minimize distractions in your environment and clear the clutter in your workspace.
Effectively separate your home and work life by setting up a division between your desk and bedroom/ living room areas. If you can, position yourself near a window to connect to natural light. The philosophy of Feng Shui is the practice of arranging living spaces to create balance and harmony (2). Feng Shui principals views your desk space as an extension of your career (2).
A clear desk space with minimal clutter or distractions will help to focus the mind on the tasks at hand. Make sure you have a comfortable chair and good lighting in your space. By creating a separation between your home and work space you can make a distinct division during the transition times in your day, from working hours to being “off” and relaxing at home. Find something that will help signal the transition times in the work day, creating a buffer between work and home life. This could be a ritual you incorporate into each day at the transition points of starting and ending the workday. Simple rituals help to set the tone for each day, such as enjoying your morning coffee or personal reading time prior to starting the day or closing the day out with a workout.
Set yourself up for success when working from home by making sure you set healthy boundaries for yourself, to define your day and differentiate between work and home life. In creating distinct divisions in the home environment, your schedule, and transition times in the day will support you both personally and professionally when working remotely in these unprecedented times.
1) Harvard Business School. "How Companies Benefit When Employees Work Remotely.” https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-companies-benefit-when-employees-work-remotely
2) The Spruce. “What is Feng Shui.” https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-feng-shui-1275060