The number of people who work remotely in the US alone is close to 50% and has increased four times since 2010. That includes employees who are working fully remote, as well as those who have the option to work from home several days per week or month.
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic raised the question of how to hire a remote employee, but has also certainly sped up the process of companies getting people out of the offices and working flexible hours whenever possible, so these numbers are only going to rise in the near future. What is more, an increasing number of employees expect from their organizations the possibility to work in a more flexible manner.
By the same token, companies are trying to find the best way to keep an eye on employees via specialized tools like Workpuls in order to ensure the same level of productivity as working in an office.
There certainly is a fair amount of distractions in the office and outside of it, but that doesn’t mean working from home can’t be as or even more productive.
Here are six tips on how to stay productive while working remotely.
Designate Your Own Working Space
If you have one room that no one else is using during your working hours, dub it your home office. Set clear ground rules - who is allowed to enter and under what conditions, as well as how they should behave while spending time in your working space.
While it may be funny to have your toddler run into the room while you’re having a business meeting, it’s not very good for your productivity levels - unless you like to play productivity games with your children.
You will also have a better chance of ensuring you don’t succumb to distractions when you’re supposed to be focused on professional tasks - whether they come from human or tech sources.
While you may believe that you can work and watch a funny video, or munch on snacks, or play with your kids while working, it’s all counter-productive. It may well decrease the work efficiency that you end up working on a task for hours on end when it would usually take you much less time to finish.
Furthermore, mixing work and personal time and space will not only slow you down, but also affect your accuracy. You will most definitely make any number of mistakes which can end up costing the company a lot - much less than implementing its employees’ remote work monitoring.
Make Your Working Space Comfortable
As we said, that doesn’t mean watch YouTube videos and munch on snacks.
In order to be able to physically sustain your working day at home, you should invest in ergonomic furniture. According to research, it can factor in boosting your productivity.
The whole concept of ergonomics revolves around designing a workplace or work station to minimize the physical stress on the worker.
Since your health can be seriously hindered by poor workspace settings, you should do what you can to prevent issues caused by or closely related to your job requirements. For office workers - those that spend long periods of time sitting - backaches, leg cramps, muscle pain, etc. are a common occurrence that can have quite detrimental consequences, especially when combined with mental stress. It all shows through employee productivity monitoring.
People who don’t have ergonomic chairs at home (like those used in modern offices) will feel the effects of sitting in an uncomfortable position after a few days of remote working. Not only will you be feeling pain in the most obvious places, but you will also tire and get frustrated faster.
So spend some time to find a desk that fits your needs - there are even those with adjustable height, so you can stand and work when you feel like it. Invest in a comfortable chair that won’t make you hot and will let you easily move around the room if you need to. Set up good lighting - the most natural-looking would be the best as it would be the easiest on the eyes. You can through a plant or two there as well - to enrich the space a bit and give you someone to vent your frustrations on if needed.
Use Tech to Your Advantage
Use productivity, employee computer monitoring software, time management, and task management apps to maximize your work efficiency. Remember, they are not there for your boss to keep track of you - they should facilitate you staying on track with the assigned workload.
Evernote, Finish, Workpuls - these are just some of the apps you can integrate into your everyday workflow to stay organized and on point with different tasks.
But you don’t need to stop there - you can complement the apps used for work with a piece of hardware as well. For example, if your work involves a lot of note-taking, you might want to consider investing in a smartpen that automatically digitizes your notes, or if it involves a lot of typing, get a type-friendly keyword.
Ultimately, all time management tools and techniques that can make work easier on you are worth considering.
Keep Regular (Company) Working Hours
Even though you are working from home, make sure you’re not working at all hours of the day. If you need a consultation from a colleague, you probably won’t be able to get one if you ping them at 2 AM. This can, of course, happen if you are part of an internationally distributed team with several time zones to consider, but it’s a long shot for people who have previously been working in the same brick-and-mortar office.
Therefore, make sure you keep regular working hours. It would be preferable to sync on the team or company level so that operations can move uninterruptedly, and you don’t have to wait for a full day for feedback or an important decision to be made.
Additionally, make sure you consistently keep track of the hours you are working each day, and even more importantly, the amount of time you are being productive.
This is easily done with the help of a remote employee monitoring tool such as Workpuls. It can help you track and record your working time, which is essential if you are charging by the hour, like consultants do, for example.
Moreover, it will be easier to keep a vigilant eye on how you are spending your time and, if necessary, introduce more discipline.
Morning for Mental, Afternoon for Physical Work
The key to maximizing productivity when working from home seems to be planning out your entire day strategically in advance.
Unless you’ve had a really late night, usually you are full of energy and ready to get to work once you get out of bed. It would be smart to use this surge of energy to tackle the biggest and most mentally demanding tasks right away, thus leaving more “action-packed” chores for the later half of your work day.
Depending on your line of work, this can be doing complicated reports in the morning and answering your emails in the afternoon. Or you can go through the correspondence early in the day, and go into inspections later. The important thing is that you get the job done properly and that your activities are in accordance with the set employee time and attendance system of your company.
Science also backs up this practice - it’s proven that there are specific times of the day when productivity levels are high. It depends on the person when that is so - it doesn’t have to be morning, per se - but it’s good to have an idea of when you are most productive in the day, so you plan your workload accordingly to get the best results.
Follow the Pomodoro Method
If you are the kind of person who prefers working in intense short bursts and taking quick breaks frequently, then the Pomodoro method will suit you well.
With this technique, you work continuously for 25 minutes, take a short 5-minute break to stand up, stretch, drink a glass of water, and maybe clear your head. Four such short cycles later, you get to take a longer break.
Another thing that is scientifically proven - taking breaks during the work day actually improves productivity. Luckily, there are a number of time and attendance apps that can help you integrate the Pomodoro method into your working lifestyle. One of those is the Pomotodo app.
When trying to beat productivity lows it’s important not to rely only on willpower entirely. There are ways to work in a smart and productive way with the help of tech tools [kw]. Instead of actively refraining from checking your Facebook while working, you can just have it blocked during that time to eliminate the temptation.
It’s just one of the ways you can use hacks, tricks, shortcuts, and tech skyrocket your productivity while working remotely.
This post is written by Niraj Ranjan Rout, founder of Hiver email collaboration tool. Follow Niraj on Twitter to learn more. The post was updated on June 18th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.