As working from home becomes the new norm – especially in these difficult and uncertain times – it may feel like a far from normal set up for many who have never experienced this.
As cases of the C-word continue to rise, thousands of people are likely to be working from home for the first time, and may be in this position for the foreseeable future.
Thankfully, this is where we at SmartPA come in to our own – as our whole premise is built around the freedom to work remotely from anywhere in the world and we support businesses on a daily basis to be able to do just that. It is something that we not only support other with, but actively encourage for our internal team. We believe that you can be as productive - if not more - as you are in your own environment, can be more creative and are without the distractions of colleagues or office chatter.
For those who have never worked from home though, this can be a daunting time and it’s often difficult to keep spirits up when staring at the same four walls. So, if you’re self-isolating, or simply taking precautionary measures, we’ve put 5 tips together to keep you motivated and positive during these times.
By ‘dress up’, we don’t mean turn up to your morning webinar in a superhero costume, but instead make sure that despite being at home, you get yourself ready for the day as if you were heading in to the office. It’s an unwritten expectation that you might dress a little more casual when working from home (your mind might go to a shirt on the top and pyjamas on the bottom vibe). However, this is a trap that you don’t want to fall in to.
A benefit of working from home is that you can be more comfortable and aren’t expected to be suited and booted, but dressing down too casually could be detrimental to your own motivation and performance. If you stay in pyjamas or reach for the fluffy socks, you may feel too relaxed to focus and likely to slip into a state of laziness. We recommend getting ready as normal and you have even more time to do so as you remove your commute from the equation. It’s also very important to be the best version of yourself as you never know when you might be called to a Video meeting, so you want to make sure you are ready for the camera.
If you’re employed by a company, you will have set working hours and usually a dedicated time and length of lunch break. It’s important to stick to these so that you don’t further alter your routine. Be set up and ready to start your working day at the same time that you would arrive to the office and just as importantly – finish your work at the same time as you would normally leave.
It can be easy to worry about perceptions when working from home and you might want to go above and beyond to prove that you are being productive. This does not mean that you have to be working well into the night. Longer hours than usual will make your day feel less structured and have a negative impact on your productivity for the days to follow.
Switch off your computer when you are finished and (space allowing) clear away your work or set it aside until the next day. Set clear start and finish times and allocate time for breaks and lunch so that you have something to work towards. Most importantly – stick to these times!
As important as it is to have set timelines in place, it’s very important to know what you are doing in that time.
If you have a team, make sure to be communicating with them as often as you would if they were sitting across the desk from you. This doesn’t mean send them minute by minute updates or tell them when you’re making a cup of tea, but have a morning and evening catch up and message regularly with any questions, advice or updates.
If you’re a manager, it can be beneficial for you to arrange a call with your team members first thing. This is not to check up on them or catch them out, but to set clear expectations of the day ahead.
Pick up the phone. It’s so easy to get into the habit of sending an email but often a phone call is a much quicker option. When you spend the day working on your own having a conversation can be much more stimulating that corresponding over email.
Communication is key in this situation, especially so if you are self-isolating. Even 10 minutes of human interaction can be so beneficial to your morale and remind you that you’re not alone. We are all in this together!
Once you have a routine and structure in place, you can focus more on completing your tasks. It’s important though not go get overwhelmed. You have probably got multiple lists of things to do and in these uncertain times you’re likely to find yourself adding tasks, rather than ticking them off.
Treat your remote working as you would any other day at the office – stick to your priorities and if something doesn’t get done that can wait, put it on the list for tomorrow. If it’s the case that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, then business support services like SmartPA are there to help you manage your work-load and take tasks off your hands.
Take short breaks and reassess priorities throughout the day. Research has shown that short breaks are much more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks.
Tackle your mind-set and accept that you may not always be productive. @SmartPA’s founder, Sarra Bejaoui, focusses a lot on managing her energy – not her time. This means that she capitalises on the hours when she feels most productive, recognises when she needs to have a break be motivated and steps away to do something else that will reenergise her.
When you are re-energising or taking a lunch break, try to do something that will give you more energy, not take it away.
This means staying away from the dishes in the sink or the laundry that needs done – those tasks albeit distracting, can wait until your working day is done.
If you’re not self-isolating and you’re safe to leave the house, going for a walk is the perfect way to temporarily switch off, give you a different perspective and invigorate you to have a successful afternoon. Although you might not miss your morning commute, going for a walk over lunch means that you leave the house at least once a day – which is important to do!
If you can’t go outside, do something active at home; go to another room and do a 10-minute yoga routine. Turn the radio up and have a dance whilst making lunch. Or use meditation apps like ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm’ to help undo mental blocks and inspire your creativity.
The anxiety and uncertainty that has come with the current pandemic cannot be denied. This makes it ever more important to be mindful, be kind to yourself and others and remember that you are not alone. If you do find that you are overwhelmed with trying to run your business or tick off your to-do list, it’s business as usual at SmartPA and we are here to help you.