With the spread of the novel coronavirus affecting everything from international travel to the availability of hand sanitizer, mitigating COVID-19 in Canada has become a growing concern. That’s why many companies are mandating or recommending that as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be slowed.
Working remotely can be a double-edge sword — sure, you get to stay home, but it can be harder to focus on actually working. Whether it’s a pile of laundry that suddenly looks more appealing than your bosses’ to-do list, or a quick three-hour binge of that one Netflix show you’ve been dying to watch, staying productive at home can take a little extra effort. Plus, the isolation can quickly become a downer for those used to socializing at work. And some people, of course, would prefer to stay in the office.
Today, we’re sharing our top 5 tips to help you optimize productivity and prevent burnout while you’re WFH. So, first thing’s first: you should probably sit up straight, eat some breakfast, and put on some pants. How else can you stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working remotely? Here are 5 tips from work-from-home veterans and workplace experts.
Build a Routine That Allows Work-Life Flexibility
When you are working from home, a consistent routine will ensure productivity, and create some separation that may help you avoid the health, job, and family consequences of burnout.
You can start by having a conversation with your manager to determine if they plan to ask employees to work core hours for coordination and communication. This will give you guidance on the hours you need to schedule for work.
Next, consider your family situation and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you have children who need to start online or in-person school at a particular time?
- Do you have a partner or spouse in your household who can share childcare responsibilities?
- Are other factors affecting the time you spend at work, such as elder care or taking your children to school or daycare?
Once you have answered these questions, set an optimum schedule that allows you to take care of your life and work simultaneously. If you are a morning person, perhaps your work day begins at 5 a.m. and you have a solid couple of hours to work before your family wakes. Alternatively, a night person might be productive working until midnight.
Optimize Your Workspace for Comfort
Establish a physical space that allows you to concentrate and focus on your job duties. Depending on your life circumstances, this workspace can consist of a laptop, desk, and a living room chair. Or, you find that you can optimize productivity by working in a corner of your bedroom or basement, or in an actual office if you have an extra room. Many people also thrive from working at their kitchen or dining room table. The best place for you to set up your “office” is where you are most comfortable working.
Set Time and Boundaries for Interaction
Set boundaries on space and interaction with others in your household such as your kids, partners, spouses, or parents. While you may not necessarily need to keep normal office hours at this point, you will find times when you need to concentrate without interruption. You might consider setting up blocks of time for when your family members or those in your household agree to not interrupt your work. You can also rotate blocks of available time with other adults in your household.
Pay Attention to Your Physical Needs
On days that you need to devote mostly to work, make sure that you still set aside time to take a deep breath and relax. People have a tendency to blur the lines between work and home when they are working remotely. Dinner with the family is important. So is evening time if you have worked all day. You might want to schedule a family dinner at 7 p.m. every day.
Your physical health is also important. You will never optimize productivity, avoid burnout, and experience the benefits of working from home if you don’t feel well. Here are a few essential ways to stay on track with your well-being.
- Eat regular meals and schedule standard exercise time each day
- Make the effort to get needed health tests, and make time for telehealth appointments with your health care professionals.
- Get out for a walk or take a bike ride. Regular exercise and fresh air helps your mental health and physical energy—both important for optimizing productivity.
Communicate Regularly with Your Co-workers
Speaking regularly with colleagues and practicing team building activities that pull people closer together become critically important when everyone is working remotely. For example, consider sharing pictures with colleagues of the fun you’ve had with family members when you have embraced the flexibility that working from home affords. Activities like this can help boost morale remotely and encourage other team members to do the same. By making an effort to stay in touch, you can help maintain a sense of normalcy as well as normal productivity.
As remote work and work flexibility have become the norm for many businesses, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future, it’s important that employees optimize their productivity while creating a sense of work-life balance.
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