The Coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down overnight. Million of people were told to limit social interactions and start working from home. This has been an abrupt transition for many employers. The question on their minds is will my employees have problems staying productive at home?
Luckily for them, a two-year study by Stanford University about remote workers found "employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among the telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off." The company in the study even saved $2,000 per employee by reducing HQ office space.
However, a lot of research suggests that working from home may negatively impact our mental health. With the lines between home and work being blurred, the worklife balance has been thrown out of whack. Nowadays managers, colleagues, and employees may be sending work emails outside of working hours, expecting a response. It has become harder to differentiate between personal times and company times.
COVID-19 has amplified additional pressures from work, as the unemployment rises astronomically in the United States. As someone who is extremely experienced working from home, here are my favorite tips to help you stay productive while working from home without burning out.
6 Working From Home Tips
There are the essential tips for working remotely. Use these home tips to help you establish a worklife balance without missing a beat.
1. Set up an space for work
Having a home office helps create boundaries for work. Creating office settings establish a physical space that separate work life from home life. You have a safe place to conduct conference calls, video calls, or phone calls. When you go out of the workspace, allow yourself to transition into home life.
This is especially important for employees who also take care of their children or their elders throughout the day. Learn to leave your work devices in the office. It's important not to take phone calls or video conferencing outside this workspace. This will help your brain recognize work mode from home mode.
2. Stick to clearly defined working hours
Just like you separate workspace from your life space, set hours to differentiate when you are working and when you're not. The greatest danger when working from home is you start working longer hours because there is no differentiation from work and home. If your job requires you to work with coworkers, keeping the same schedule as them helps keeping communication easy.
Hold yourself accountable to work within your working hours. Don't extend the work hours if you can help it. Know when enough is enough. When it's all said and done, leave your workspace so you can unwind and get ready for tomorrow anew.
3. Focus on important work
Try and reduce the amount of busy work you do. Start devoting your energy to accomplishing top priorities.
When you are working from home, sometimes you want to give the facade of productivity (like keeping the green status icon lit up on Slack/Zoom). But this becomes counterproductive in the long run.
Make a list of tasks you want to accomplish for the day. Tackle all of them first so they won't create anxiety in your mind later on. Once you've finished, give yourself a break. Reward yourself for the hard work accomplished.
4. Don't watch the news
The news is full of things that are sensationalize to cause you anxiety. It's so easy to get caught up and be full of dread of the danger outside. But it's not conducive for your mental health or your work productivity. Keep your mind clear of fear, and schedule a time in your day to get caught on what you need to know.
5. Create transitions in and out of work
Create morning and evening routines to transition in and out of work. Since you are not commuting to the office, you lose the time to prepare your mind for work.
If you usually listen to music or a podcast on your commute to work, try keeping the habit while taking a walk outside.
When you finish work, give your mind a signal to know when your workday has ended. Create a routine to help you decompress. Do something lighthearted and fun to help you unwind.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication is so important. If you work with coworkers, be willing to set boundaries (i.e. "Sorry, I've gotta go cook for my kids"). If you live with people, communicate when you need to work so you can give work your full attention.
Communication helps you set expectations with people. It sets up the ground rules for your coworkers and cohabitants. It allows people to know where you are and what you're up to. Remember, silence is the enemy if you live in a collaborative setting.
Working from home can be an odd transition for people who are not used to it. Use these tips for staying productive while working from home to help you navigate this transition. Remember that isolation is the enemy of your mental wellbeing when working from home, so use video calls to stay in touch with people you care about. Continue to take care of your mental and physical health obsessively. We will get through this pandemic together.