Are you working from home for an extended period for the first time due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic? We round up some top tips to make your working day run more smoothly, as well as ways to increase productivity.
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is an ever-changing situation. This article was published on 30 March 2020.
1. Plan for success
A simple to-do list can be enough to get you started, but sometimes a structured plan is even better. Set deadlines and make an efficient time schedule. Do not forget to plan your breaks; taking short breaks every two hours and having a fixed lunch break will make you more efficient.
2. Pretend to go to the office
Structure is important when working from home. Wake up and go to bed at the same time you normally would during the week and work your normal office hours. Whilst it’s tempting, don’t work in your pajamas as your brain can connect emotions and behaviours with your clothes. Also, an unexpected video call could be embarrassing for all!
Make sure you have a defined start and finish time every day. Schedule these into your diary and block out times that you are not available so that colleagues know you cannot be contacted then. If you have caring responsibilities you may need to consider whether you need to change your usual working hours. Speak to your manager if this applies to you. With schools and nurseries closed, people with children may struggle to work as effectively so we’d advise you to talk with your manager to discuss what can and can’t be done.
4. Create a comfortable work space
It can be tempting to sit on the sofa with your laptop but think twice as this may cause back pain if you are doing this over a prolonged period. Choose a place where you can sit and concentrate and maintain a professional approach to your work. Keep this area tidy as an aid to boost productivity.
5. Meet online but keep it organised
Try to keep the number of people on calls and video calls to a minimum and ensure each meeting is chaired by someone to manage interruptions and ensure everyone is given an opportunity to contribute.
6. Don’t get distracted
The non-stop coverage of the coronavirus is a major distraction and could potentially have a negative impact on your spirits. Avoid following the news during the day (unless you need to for your job) and limit how much you watch beyond getting all the vital information. Some people need background noise if they are used to working in an open plan office. Why not create a playlist on Spotify or Deezer? These platforms will also have playlists of songs designed to help you concentrate better.
7. Stream with a colleague
Connect with a colleague via video for an hour or so and leave it running so you’re connected whilst you both carry on with work. You don’t even have to talk but it means someone will be there to refer to or chat over issues whilst you are working. It might feel strange at the beginning but knowing that someone is ‘in the room’ working towards their goals – just as the case would be in the office – can help productivity and reduce any feelings of isolation.
8. Keep on moving
Catch some fresh air on your balcony or in your garden and walk around the house when you are on the phone. Find the best time of day to fit in your exercise – there are plenty of exercise classes online available at the moment.
9. Family matters
Do you have children? Discuss with your partner what you need to achieve daily and who will work when, taking account of your children’s needs. Is it too difficult to concentrate during daytime? Flexible working hours may be helpful depending on your job so talk to your manager about what can be arranged. We have created a guide to help you find activities to keep the kids entertained as an aid.
10. Stay hydrated
It is easy to forget that glass of water, cup of coffee or mug of tea when your colleagues aren’t there to run the rounds. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to stick the kettle on. It also means you will get up from the desk and move around.