As we all know, the current circuit breaker period looks set to end on the first of June. Despite this, it is very unlikely that things will immediately return to some sort of normalcy. Sure, we can now order our McDonalds meals and get our haircuts, but heading into the office on a regular basis seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. The government is taking a very cautious and calibrated approach when it comes to re-introducing the workforce back to their original work space. What this means is that working from home is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
It is safe to say that working from home has it’s fair share of unique challenges. Working on completely distributed teams means needing different ways of informing each other, different ways of making decisions, and different ways of staying connected. All these have an impact on work productivity. So, we’ve decided to come up with a short list of tips to help you solve the issue of finding productivity when working from home.
Design your own workspace at home
One of the first few challenges we’d face when working from home is finding where exactly we should “work”. It was never a decision that was in our hands prior to this period of working from home. We’d all have our own specific seat or space in the office. At home, it’s a bit more complicated. The separation between work and home was physical before, and that’s what we should try to recreate at home – as best we can.
Your workspace at home need not be a room on its own but it should feel separate from the rest of the home. This way, when you “enter” your chosen workspace, you’d know that the goal is to be productive within the confines of this space. So, don’t fall into the trap of spreading yourself across the home! Make your workspace as comfortable as possible, and we suggest that this starts with a chair that you can sit in for the entire day.
Create a morning and evening commute
One of the advantages of working from home is that there is no need to commute to and from the office. Not only does this save us a bit of money, it also allows us to sleep in just that little bit more! However, it’s important to note that our commute to work does more than simply get us from one physical location (home) to another (office). It allows our brain time to prepare for work. Daily commutes form the basis of our weekday routines. For example, maybe you would read a book or listen to a podcast on the train to work. There’s no reason why that can’t continue as you work from home.
The same goes for the end of the day. The time spent on the train or bus home allows us to wind down from a day at work as we prepare for our evening routine. Allow yourself a bit of time to transition between personal and work life. Without making this deliberate effort, your work from home experience will tend to get fuzzy and cluttered – not the best formula if you’re looking for increased productivity.
Do your best to keep clearly defined working hours
Staying on transitioning between work and personal life, an important step is to create clearly defined working hours first. Be clear about when you should be working and when you should call it a day. Accountability becomes all the more important. At home, there isn’t as much external pressure to keep you fully focused throughout the day. That pressure has to come from within, you’re basically learning to treat yourself as an employee.
On the flip side, we have to also learn to tell ourselves when enough is enough, just as a good manager might. Without the daily commute (or the opportunity to head out after work), we might end up extending our working hours just because. That is all good and fine but doing it excessively might hinder productivity. Sometimes, it is best to let yourself know that recharging the batteries is important too. Work can continue the next morning, once you’re well rested and re-energised.
Have a plan for your work day
Working from home would mean that there’s a lot more independence and agency afforded to us. To make best use of this new found agency, having a daily schedule can be useful. If you’re already practicing this habit when in the office, try to keep a more structured schedule than usual. Working from home, lesser people are able to influence how our time is used. Sure, we can just cram in as much work as possible into our planner but there’s also a need to find a nice balance.
The productivity that we all are searching for can only be achieved when it comes from a planned work schedule that allows for some breathing space. Even the most introverted among us would yearn human interaction, especially after staring at the same google sheet for the last few hours. Have a lunch zoom catch-up with a colleague or friend once in a while! When you return to your workspace, you’d feel re-energised and this will (hopefully) lead to some productive hours on your desktop!
Learn to resist unnecessary distractions
Distraction is one of the biggest challenges facing those who have to work from home for the foreseeable future. While it’s human to get distracted, you do need to be wary of how much you let yourself get distracted during work hours. In the office, you probably already take a few breaks throughout the day – just to have a stretch for a minute or maybe heading to the pantry to get a drink. That’s fine to do at home too. The difference is that there’s a lot more opportunities to be distracted at home. You don’t want to end up convincing yourself that you need to clean out your closet or wash your curtains during your work hours.
Also, another big distraction these days is the news on COVID-19. While it’s important to stay updated, there’s really no need to get the news as soon as it comes out. You might start clicking on related story after related story and end up feeling so demoralised and disheartened that getting back into the flow of work becomes a challenge.
Avoid cabin fever
Now that most of us are spending a disproportionate amount of time within our homes, we tend to get bummed out a lot easier. We end up in this cycle of negative and distressing emotions as a result of being isolated for a long period of time. It’s only natural that we feel down cause we can’t meet up with our friends after work. Maybe for some of us, heading out for a meal or drink after office hours was a regular occurrence. Now that it is no longer an option, it takes a toll on our emotional well being. This is bound to seep into our work life in due time, affecting our productivity and overall work performance. To avoid cabin fever, find activities or hobbies that you can look forward to after work! Similar to having a work schedule, this adds structure to your day at home. Not only that, it will lift your mood! Find some ways to avoid that cabin fever here.
Finding productivity takes time
A key takeaway when it comes to productivity when working from home is realising that everyone works differently. Remember that working from home wasn’t a choice for many of us. Hence, it only makes sense that it takes some time for us to adapt to our new work environment. There’ll be a few bumps along the way as we do our best to find our desired productivity level. Do leave us a comment if you have other tips on working from home! In the meantime, stay safe, kind and healthy.
We, at Delegate, have started an initiative to support vulnerable individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 situation. During this circuit breaker period, for every package purchased on Delegate, SGD1 will go to The Courage Fund by National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Do feel free to spread the word and support this cause!
Another initiative we’ve started involves the wedding industry. This global pandemic we are in has brought a host of challenges to everyone involved in said industry. From brides-to-be to wedding vendors, these are unprecedented times. We want to be part of the solution and that is why we started this Facebook group – Save Wedding Vendors. We aim to build a community of helpful vendors and members. You can post your queries, ask for recommendations and share promotions or reviews as well.