Working from home is slowly becoming the new normal. Managers and companies have realized that thanks to technology, work can still be done no matter where team members are working at. Unless completely necessary, work that was thought needed to be done in the office can be finished at home or remotely.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, where people were required to stay at home to decrease the infection rate. In response to the lockdown, companies worldwide were urged to implement the work from home policy in order to maintain the flow of their business activities. Employees working for companies that are not used to the remote work style struggled to maintain their productivity

Benefits of working from home

Most people prefer working from home instead of the office or on-site not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020 but also because of the benefits it has. In a 2019 study, more than 50% of onsite employees expressed their plan to work from home or remotely in the future.

Working from home or from a remote location means it’s easier for you to set your own work hours. The idea of a 9-to-5 job is out the window, especially if your team prioritizes performance and results instead of attendance in the office. Flexible working hours can help employees to maintain a better work-life balance by allowing them space and time to do the things they love outside of the professional workspace.

The survey then showed that remote employees are less stressed as they no longer have to commute. Some side effects of commuting include a rise in blood pressure, lack of quality sleep, increase in cholesterol, anxiety, as well as depression. Omitting this process from one’s work routine can greatly impact their physical and mental health.

Fewer people commuting on the road also has a positive impact on sustainability as the roads aren’t as congested during rush hours in the morning and evening. With more people working from home, it has contributed to better air and water quality due to a decreased rate of pollution.

Challenges of working from home

With all the perks that come with virtual working, it might be challenging for some to adapt to the change. Some people can find it difficult to be more productive, as virtual work means you’re prone to be exposed to more distractions. From family members to the appeal of lounging on your couch all day, working from home is just not a suitable environment for some employees.

Other than the challenges that stem from the working environment, morale can also be impacted with employees are working from home, away from other team members. The lack of face-to-face interaction can have an impact on performance as some might feel isolated and left out without instantaneous communication. 

Communicating virtually has its own challenges, from the different dynamics to technical issues. Employees must possess a certain level of virtual intelligence in order to thrive in a remote working environment. Some employees might also feel like they are not being heard during video calls if managers do not give them a chance to voice out their concerns explicitly. 

How to work from home more effectively

If you’re somebody who’s having a hard time staying focused while working remotely, here are some tips on how to be more productive when working from home. Try to implement these work from home tips for at least 21 days to build a better habit and increase efficiency in your daily work task.

1. Set a dedicated workspace

One of the first things you should do before you start your work from home is to set up a separate workspace. This is so that you can associate that space or room with work and not with household activities. For example, set up your workspace as far away from your bed as possible to lower the temptation to rest and procrastinate.

If you have a spare room in the house, you can utilize this by decorating it like a true home office space. Decorate it with all of the tools and gadgets that can help increase productivity. Perhaps, try setting up your home office with things that are usually not allowed in the office before like speakers, your own coffee machine, LED lights, a standing desk, and so on. If you don’t have a spare room to turn into an office, you can simply set up a small area in your home for a desk big enough for your electronics and notebooks.

2. Build a routine

Even if you’re not in the office, an important tip to help you work from home more effectively is by building a routine as if you’re going into a physical workspace. Wake up, have lunch, and “clock out” at the same time you would if you were working on-site. If you usually commute to work, take the extra time in the morning to do other activities like meditating, journaling, exercising, listening to podcasts, and so on. Dressing up in office wear or smart-casual wear can also help raise productivity.

If you have your own office routine or schedule, try to implement that as well throughout the day. Let’s say you have a little snack break in the pantry every 4 PM, then try to do the same when you’re working remotely. You can also try to turn off all work-related electronics at the end of the day to make sure that work-related matters and discussions do not spill into your leisure time and your personal life.

3. Take short, frequent breaks

Powering through the day without breaks doesn’t always mean you’re being 100% productive. It’s recommended that you take frequent, short breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. This can be beneficial especially for those in the creative industry. For example, if you’re a content creator having writer’s block, the solution is not to force yourself to write. Instead, step away from your work to take a break and let the ideas come to you naturally.

Taking short, frequent breaks also help you perform better and stay productive throughout the day because after each break, you come back with a refreshed state of mind. You can be more focused and productive which will lead to higher quality results in your daily outcome.

4. Make Pomodoro your best friend

The Pomodoro Technique, or the tomato timer, will be your best friend if you have trouble focusing for a long period of time. It was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. The idea is to focus and work without distractions for 20-25 minutes straight then take a 5-10 minute break away from your screen. 

You can install a Google Chrome extension, download and install a separate app, or set reminders on your smartphone. When you install a Pomodoro app, you can list down blacklisted and whitelisted websites to make sure you keep on track with as few distractions as possible. You may blacklist social media sites like Youtube and Instagram while whitelisting Wikipedia or trusted news outlets.

There are many benefits of using this specific time management technique. The Pomodoro method can help reduce errors due to interruptions and improve organizational skills. It also can boost your motivation to complete tasks under a set amount of time and promote an effective work schedule for deadlines and project management.

5. Be active as often as you can

While you may no longer have to commute when working from home, it means your outdoor time is cut down or completely removed from your daily routine. To make up for it, try to take a walk around your neighborhood or at a nearby park to get some fresh air and some steps in. Alternatively, you can also do yoga or breathing exercises in your balcony or backyard just to keep your body moving in the morning.

Being active in the morning, without the distraction of work, can boost your creativity and productivity throughout the day. It can also improve your mood and decrease stress, allowing you to take on more projects and perform better in your work. Even if you don’t have time in the morning to get outdoors, you can utilize your lunchtime or one of your short breaks during the day to take a quick stroll around the neighborhood.

6. Use white noise or listen to music

Listening to music has been proven to increase productivity and boost performance as well as attention span. Be that as it may, the impact differs from person to person. For instance, the study mentioned above concluded that music without lyrics, or instrumental music, does better for employees’ productivity compared to music with lyrics. On the other hand, listening to your favorite tunes, even with lyrics, can improve the mood and therefore your performance.

For some people, white background noise works better in addition to low-fi music. This can  Websites like Coffitivity plays music with the white noise you would hear in an actual cafe. Coffitivity is backed by research that proves how ambient noise can significantly improve creativity and cognitive ability.

7. Plan virtual hangout sessions to socialize

All work and no fun can make you a dull one. The beauty of working from home is all the extra time you have to explore activities and hobbies you didn’t have time for beforehand. It can also offer a chance to reconnect with loved ones. With something as simple as scheduling a Google Hangouts session to catch-up with friends and family, you can fill up your social battery as well.

It provides a nice and fun break from your daily work task, especially if you’re unable to leave your home and go out to see your colleagues and friends. You can also incorporate this virtual chat method during one of your retrospective meetings. Turn on the video feature during your meeting to really amplify the interaction between you and your co-workers. Increased social interaction can boost morale, leading to better performance and productivity at work.

Hopefully, these work from home tips can help you uphold some form of normalcy even when you’re operating in a different environment. Every one of us have our own rules on how to be more productive working from home, so let these tips guide you to achieve a better working habit no matter where you’re at.

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