Since the pandemic had been declared, billions of people around the world were forced to stay back at their homes while governments of many nations closed their borders, and shut down non-essential businesses and with that, many of us have been forced to work from home ever since then but this drastic change of work ethic can be overwhelming if you do not approach it the right ways possible and that is what we’re going to be tackling in this post.
Having to deal with kids’ drama, and managing your own internet stuff and hardware and even software makes it more daunting and all those privileges you get from your company which include auto-updating your software, paid services for your usage and so on might not really be there any longer which is why it’s time to really plan out what you want and expect during such period.
While some companies like Google are allowing their employees expense up to US$1000, not many companies might give you that privilege. Another “What If” scenario is a small business owner who has to stay in the comfort of their home and with that, you must continue to conduct your business right and ensure the efficiency of operations.
While the initial adjustment might really be dramatic, these are the top 10 tips to stay productive while you work from home by first understanding the new changes and what needs to be done in order to achieve your daily tasks easily and reach whatever milestone you’ve set for yourself.
Know your wants and needs
To work effectively from home, you need to look around and replicate your exact office workspace back to your home which means you need to find out first those essential tools and devices you need to work effectively from your home.
While it might be easy for you to request those from your company – assuming they’re willing to provide them, others might just be your sole responsibility to acquire by yourself which includes communication equipment, network equipment, software services, and other utility tools that will ensure you work effectively while you’re working from home. Other important to request or acquire by yourself includes:
- Wireless Mouse/Keyboard
- USB Hub
- Any Software/Apps Needed
- Printer (if needed)
- Telephone (if needed)
Whatever it is you need to effectively work from home, your company might provide those to you and you might get others yourself as well.
Say an ergonomic chair and a desk, you might need a mini tripod and even a laptop stand because you might need to change position sometimes and it’s not advisable to always place your laptop on your lap due to heat.
You might need a pair of headsets for easy communication and so many other things. It’s you who needs them so write those down and get them sent over or just head over to get those you can afford.
Create a real Workstation at your home
To work effectively from home, you can’t just work anywhere. Whether you’re a mom or dad, you need to have a space well dedicated to working which will help reduce distraction by all means possible.
Assuming you have many rooms in your home, one of the empty rooms will be very ideal because, with that, you can always close the door to stay in a dedicated environment that simulates your office and especially keep other distractions including the kids and pets away for those moments you need to do important things such as communicate or maybe shoot videos.
With that said, ensure to have all you want in the room and that could in fact include a mini fridge or a water dispenser.
One thing I found about myself whenever I work from home is to avoid standing up unnecessarily as possible.
Say you’re thirsty or you need to hydrate, you don’t need to always get up and head over to the kitchen all the time for that.
So a bottle of water depending on your need as well as maybe a few little snacks if you are like me just so as to keep yourself connected to whatever it is you’re doing.
Equipment your workstation
Okay, so earlier I mentioned knowing what you need and getting them and now, you need to equip your workstation with all those things which you have gotten.
If you’re a small business owner, you even want to have your company logo on the wall somewhere where it can be visible enough so that anytime you’re making a call or something, people can see it.
Aside from that, you need other essential things which include an ergonomic chair for you to sit on or at least a good chair in which you can relax your back and support your postures then you need a good working computer.
That might just be the one you brought from your office or you might just add it up to the one you have at home.
Other things you need include a good communication device such as headphones or IP Telephones depending on the nature of your job but headphones with in-built microphones are somewhat essential because it allows you to be able to multitask.
And if you could get a wireless headphones, that would be in fact golden because you will be able to move around without needing to stay confined to one spot due to the limits of the wire.
You might need things like an extension power switch box with which you can connect all of your devices to the power supply.
You can also get a non-intrusive speaker to listen to music or just use your headset for that. I love to listen to music whenever I am deep at work.
Other things you need to include are a nice keyboard, and mouse (I personally don’t like an extra mouse for my laptop) but you know what you need right?
You might need an external hard drive or a nice USB stick, a desk lamp might be a good one, and some really good lighting system to light up the room and whatever you also need to make your work breezy.
Good internet is very essential
I don’t know the kind of job you do but whatever makes your company decide that you can work from home, that means the company believes in the connection the internet can bring to the table which is where good internet is super important during this period.
You need good working Wi-Fi and broadband if you can afford a good one. Say your kids are also schooling from home, they need to be able to connect with their tutors via their e-Schools and that demands a good network connection.
You need good internet service in order to be able to do things such as video conferencing, tutoring online, and so forth.
So you might want to contact your internet provider for a good plan that will ensure a speedy connection.
One thing which derails me the most while working from home is bad internet and that sucks a lot.
with that said, a good internet connection will ensure you work effectively and allow you to perform your tasks quickly without much delay.
Last but not least is a good VPN service because that is a good one to protect your work from being spied on by cyber criminals.
If your company doesn’t provide you with one, you can check through our array of best VPN services to opt for this year. With that, your confidential works, transactions, and any other things can be securely done without the risk of losing your important data to any hacker.
You must set your expectations
Working from home means that no boss is constantly standing behind your back peeping into your computer to see what you’ve been working on.
And with that, you might be able to binge-watch Netflix and keep lying to yourself that “I’ll do that later” but you’ll realize you never did it anyway.
Working from home demands some etiquette and you need to take full responsibility for your actions with that, you need to set your expectations on whatever given tasks and always time yourself on how to effectively complete those tasks.
Also, you need to always communicate potential delays with your co-workers or boss, or clients just so they can adjust their expectations of your deliverable.
One of the best things to note is to understand the period best for you to work. I work very effectively in the morning when I wake up, I head straight up to my computer and start working just the way I do while going to the office because, in the morning, the brain is still fresh, you’ve not yet dealt with any drama and your energies are well preserved and with that, you just put all those efforts to work.
Also, whenever you’re working, create boundaries and do not mix business with pleasure. With that, any member of the family including your spouse or kids can stay away while you’re busy at work.
Have a scheduled calendar and time managers
Time management is a good solution that can help you manage your schedules effectively.
You also need a good tool or resource to keep up with your calendars in order to know when next you have a meeting with a client or co-worker.
Google Calendar can do it for you or you can merely use the native one that comes shipped with your smartphone/computer as it contains an alarm system that lets you know if your schedule period is running closer.
Because working from home allows you the luxury of straying away from your work sometimes, it might be good to be strict with your time and know what to do, when to do it, and so on.
You can also download a logging or time management application in order to keep track of the number of hours you’ve spent working when you should start working, and when you should stop — just so you don’t overwork yourself or fail to achieve your daily plans.
In the end, you need to create an impressive performance for your clients or boss.
Good video conferencing ethics
The next thing you also want to ensure you deal with is how seriously you take meetings. First of all, you no longer have any excuse for coming to meetings late, also, you shouldn’t be looking as if you’re coming from your bed to the web meeting which means you need to look good exactly the same way you would if you were at your office.
It would be good to stay in a place with a good background which was why I mentioned that you have a good enough workstation because of video meetings.
While you can change the background of your Zoom meeting, there is still some good etiquette to practice during calls, and those include the following:
- Turn on your camera: Unless it’s a meeting where all you do is listen, use a camera as a means of maintaining a professional image and a sense of physical presence.
- Mute your microphone: Your background sounds are amplified for everyone else so do the group a favor and stay muted unless you’re speaking. Bonus tip: Configure your video conference software to mute by default when it starts.
- Choose appropriate lighting: Participants will want to see your face as they’re talking to you.
- Keep the background clean: You don’t want your colleagues to see all the mess you’ve made in your privacy.
- Don’t wear your pajamas: The adage ‘Dress for success’ is essential when you’re WFH. You may not need a three-piece suit, but staying too casual will detract from your professional image.
Stay clear of bad WFH habit
What’s important to note is that whatever it is you cannot do at your office shouldn’t be tolerated at home which means you need to take work from home as solemnly as though you’re working with your other hundreds of colleagues.
First, stop visiting websites that aren’t going to add up to your work. I hate to admit but Porn sites are still growing in millions of traffic every single day and that’s because humans visit them.
While that is ok, you need to set time apart knowing what to do at work and what not to do. Visiting social networking sites during work hours too should be prohibited because they will drain your energy quicker than you can imagine.
Other things to not do includes streaming movies on your computer while at work or playing games when you’re supposed to be solving a problem. You should know how to manage your time and work together as an adult.
Always stay connected with co-workers
Another important thing is to always stay connected with your co-workers and act as if you’re with one another in real life.
Share information and talk often just the same way you would while you work at the office. You can use social media communication tools to create a group in which you can submit tasks and every other member of the group can contribute.
If your company use an ERP system, it will be nice to make good use of this within your group of a colleague as well as keep communication open at all times to that your junior colleague who is always looking up to you or the friend who likes to discuss after work. It’s all up to you to decide so far nothing hinders productivity.
Body language is an important and overlooked aspect of communication, especially at work. One surprisingly effective stand-in for body language when working remotely is the much-loved emoji! Use them often, and appropriately, and you will convey important non-verbal cues to your co-workers.
Don’t whine about your errors
Maybe the title of this tip isn’t correct but what I meant by that is that as a human, we’re all going to make mistakes or some errors might just happen during crucial moments.
Say during a video conference meeting, your child crawled into the workspace or your dog started barking profusely — basically, anything that might be distracting — it’s okay, just correct the issues and ensure that it doesn’t occur again and move on. It’s simple.
Exercise often enough
This wasn’t part of the initial plans but then I realized the importance of exercising. Considering the fact that you’re constantly on your computer, you may find it difficult to give yourself the needed time to take a walk down the street or get up from your seat.
What you can do to fix this includes getting a treadmill or signing up for an e-Yoga class if that’s your thing or just taking a walk around the neighborhood – hopefully, your city isn’t on a lockdown.
Either way, ensure you stay healthy while you work from home, it will be easy to lose yourself especially if you live alone, you might forget to take your bath, cook yourself a good meal, or even brush your teeth all of which could be detrimental to your wellbeing.
Living alone during this time demands you look after yourself well enough and ensure that you stay healthy by living well, eating well, and exercising well.
Get up sometimes and take a walk down the street with your mask on, of course, and listen to good songs that elevate your spirit because this time of loneliness makes it easy to slide into depression.