How to work productively from home
Posted on March 25 2020
We are now in the situation where many people who don't usually work remotely now work from home, and it can be difficult to focus. Of course, if you are like me, I am immensely grateful for being able to work from home.
Everywhere in the world, there are people who can't work these days, people in countless crucial professions where, if they don't show up, they don't get paid. As everything closes, these people are losing their livelihoods.
But for all of us who are working from home:
If you have trouble concentrating, give yourself transitions. It's hard to go from the latest COVID-19 headlines to the high concentration needed to work on that report, so take an intermediate step. Once you've reviewed the news, start working on something work-related, but with little effort, such as answering simple emails, reading an interesting report, etc. That will help divert your attention from the news to your work. Then, after you have readjusted yourself, try to tackle that high intensity project.
Create a suitable workspace. Perhaps you are working from home, as are your spouse and children who will also be at home, and your home is not configured to adapt to that situation. Consider moving the furniture and change the purpose of some spaces so that anyone who needs a place to focus can get it.
Give yourself work hours. This is important for your productivity, and is also useful for anyone else who is at home with you. Let other people know when they should leave you alone so you can do your job. And more generally ...
Have a plan. Especially, when you work alone, you should keep a more structured daily schedule than usual. Usually, our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people. You will experience that your day lacks the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. Your schedule should include multiple breaks throughout the day, either to play with the dog or check your social networks.
Pay attention to the appearance of your video. Now that many of us will be connecting via video, take time to prepare. Appear professional, consider what people will see in your background (and order distracts you), consider lighting and angle, and reduce sounds (clicking a pen, touching the table) to a minimum.
And one thing is certain for all of us ...
Be patient. This is not the time to get mad because a coworker has a barking dog, a crying baby, or an upset child. This is not the time to be sarcastic when someone does not understand very well how to use technology correctly, does not know how to upload a file to Dropbox, keeps asking how to share a screen. And if you're that person, with the dog barking or unfamiliarity with Zoom, be patient with yourself. This is an unprecedented situation, and you are doing your best. These bad moments will not last forever, very soon everything will return to its place and we will return to our usual life. And what life prepares for us depends on where we are going now.