As many businesses continue remote operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult for employees working from home to remain focused, positive and productive.
Despite daily headlines flooding our news streams and health mandates constantly changing, there are several ways to keep you on track. Here are 10 tips to help you relax and improve productivity when working from home.
- Stay Connected
- Stick To A Schedule
- Unplug: Take Regular Breaks
- Change Up Your Workspace
- Increase Your Self-Care
- Delegate Tasks Professionally & Personally
- Be Kind To Yourself
- Stay Active
- Time Management
- Prioritizing Your Mental Health
Let’s get into it!
According to the Boston Consulting Group survey, employees reported continued and enhanced productivity when working on collaborative projects. Employees who reported having regular social interactions with colleagues were 2-3 times more likely to maintain or improve productivity.
Team bonding activities such as virtual happy hours or coffee breaks, can also foster work relationships and give a sense of normalcy in a time that is anything but normal. Nurturing these professional relationships can allow employees to de-stress, businesses to maintain morale, and overall productivity to improve.
Collaboration tools such as Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and others can also be helpful.
Stick To A Schedule
Working from home can have negative effects on stress and productivity, but it doesn’t have to! Mapping out your tasks with a weekly schedule can provide you with that in-office structure you’ve been missing.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has presented many challenges, especially when you’re trying to stay productive. The simple practice of writing checklists, planning ahead, following a routine, managing your sleep, and sticking to regular office hours, can help you complete projects on deadline while also staying organized on the home front.
Google Calendar, Trello, Todoist, and many other scheduling tools are perfect to manage tasks.
Unplug: Take Regular Breaks
According to Lifehack.org, implementing short, daily breaks can have several positive impacts:
- 30-second to 5-minute breaks can increase productivity by 13%
- 15-second screen-free breaks every 10 minutes can reduce fatigue by 50%
- 1.5-minute breaks increased productivity by 6.45%
- 2-minute breaks increased productivity by 11.15%
Sometimes we all need a second to decompress, relax and stretch. Whether it be a quick walk around the neighborhood, grabbing coffee, or playing with your pets, taking time away can help you stay mentally and physically healthy while also maintaining productivity.
Change Up Your Workspace
Establishing a designated workspace within your home can help you maintain a balance by mentally separating the two environments through physical characteristics. These cues can help you distinguish professional boundaries and create an optimal environment for productivity.
According to The Workplace Wellness 2019 Study, 44% of employees attributed poor air quality in offices to increased fatigue and 60% attributed poor office lighting to reduced job performance. Lucky for you, working from home offers the flexibility to set up your workspace in whatever way you see fit to stay productive. Even the simple task of rearranging your desk can yield positive productivity results.
For optimal productivity, a quiet space such as a separate room with a window, door, and reliable Wi-Fi is highly recommended. Since we know a private office isn’t ideal for everyone, a designated corner with plenty of outlets, natural light, and fresh air will also work great. With the proper connection, you can even take your work outdoors for a relaxing, stress-free experience.
Fun Fact: According to North Carolina University, natural light leads to higher productivity, decreased eye strain, better sleep, and improved mood.
Increase Your Self-Care
At a time like this, self-care is crucial in improving one’s mental, physical and emotional state. Self-care is the perfect relief for stress and anxiety when it comes to enhancing work productivity. According to Dr. Russell Thackery, licensed clinical psychologist, people who practice self-care improve cognitive ability — better focus, concentration and productivity.
Here are a few simple self-care tips:
- Establish a morning/nightly routine
- Read your favorite book or listen to music on break
- Incorporate meditation or yoga into your day
- Stock up on healthy treats
- Keep a clean home and workspace
- Get dressed for work
Delegate Tasks Professionally & Personally
In order to maintain and improve productivity while working from home, it’s important to ensure you’re not taking on too much responsibility. To avoid extra stress, be realistic about your time frame and capacity to complete projects. Delegation of tasks, communication with your superiors, and team collaboration can have huge impacts on overall team productivity and stress management.
Delegating tasks in your personal life can also improve productivity. By splitting daily and weekly tasks between your roommates, family and/or partner, you can achieve a healthier work-life balance. It can be overwhelming when your work and home life collide, but communicating clear roles will go a long way in helping you stay on track in both.
Be Kind To Yourself
According to business.com, 70% of American workers reported COVID-19 as the most stressful time of their career — 62% said they lost one hour per day of productivity and 32% lost two hours per day. As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented pandemic, there is no better time to practice patience, compassion, and kindness for one’s self.
With mandates and news constantly changing, it can be difficult to stay up to speed. Remember that we’re all encountering this “new normal” together and not everything will go according to plan (as we all know). As simple as it may seem, incorporating positive affirmations, stress-reducing activities, and self-love can be crucial to staying productive during this time.
Sticking to a normal exercise routine when working in-office is already difficult. Add in the stresses of COVID-19, full-time remote work, and little incentive to get outdoors, and you’ve got the perfect distraction from your health goals.
According to the Harvard Business Review, work performance is directly related to physical activity. Regular exercise is a huge influence on productivity — improved concentration, enhanced memory, faster learning, extended mental endurance, better mood, and lower stress.
Incorporating healthy habits like 10-minute walk breaks and at-home exercise routines can help you be more productive and less stressed throughout the workday.
Time management when working from home is challenging enough without a pandemic, but now those challenges seem to have multiplied. To alleviate this stress, get in the habit of sticking to a schedule and timing your tasks with a planner (or other tools). Remember, taking regular breaks and eating nutritious meals are crucial to improving productivity.
There are also great online time management tools such as Google Tasks, Tomato Timer, Tick Tick, and many more.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
There is no greater priority right now than your mental health and well-being. Productivity and mental health go hand-in-hand. Checking in on yourself, creating a healthy space, sticking to a routine, practicing self-care, and partaking in daily activities that increase your overall mood, are all major factors in prioritizing your mental health. Remember to be patient, breathe, and utilize relaxation techniques on stressful days.
Humans are one of the most adaptive species on the planet — what better way to prove this than during a time such as this. Incorporating these techniques and more, can help you maximize productivity, relax your mind, and continue to adapt while working from home.
Learn more about the Pros and Cons of working from home.