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Make It Count: 5 Tips to Stay Focused and Productive When Working Remotely

Striking a healthy balance between our professional and personal lives has always been important, but it becomes increasingly difficult to establish a clear line between the two when your office is set up at home. As Covid-19 continues to impact businesses and workers, it looks more likely that home working is the ‘new normal’ – so now is the time to adapt to new ways of working to ensure we stay at the top of our game while working remotely.

Striking a healthy balance between our professional and personal lives has always been important, but it becomes increasingly difficult to establish a clear line between the two when your office is set up at home. As Covid-19 continues to impact businesses and workers, it looks more likely that home working is the ‘new normal’ – so now is the time to adapt to new ways of working to ensure we stay at the top of our game while working remotely.

With fewer distractions from co-workers and zero-hours spent commuting, working from home can be a dream come true for convenience and productivity – in fact, a study by Stanford University found that work satisfaction and employee loyalty improved when employees worked remotely. However, it is all too easy to feel isolated when working alone at home, and without those important social interactions to break up the day, burnout becomes a serious issue.

So how can you stay focused and productive when working from home? As a team that has always worked remotely, we want to share our pro tips for success.

 

1. Productivity starts with the space you choose

A quiet, distraction-free environment to work in is key to productive home working. Set up your workstation in a space away from the busyness of day-to-day home life – somewhere you can go that feels different from the rest of the house. Ensuring your home office is separated from your living space is vital for maintaining a work-life balance, and allows you to focus on work when working, and home life when out of hours.

A good office chair is equally important to ensure you are comfortable throughout the day, and at a good height to view your monitor. Improper posture maintained for long periods can have lasting effects on your back and neck muscles, while being comfortable at your desk can improve your concentration and reduce stress.

Aim to keep your desk as clutter-free as possible – as they say, ‘tidy space, tidy mind.’ A cluttered desk can feel chaotic – it’s easy to get distracted by the mess and can lead to procrastinating on work tasks. Consider the lighting too – a well-lit workspace not only helps you work more effectively, but it can also improve your mood.

 

2. Take a break

Working remotely is a new way of working for a lot of us, and it can be too easy to get swept up in working long hours and never really switching off. It’s important to recognize that while this may seem productive, it’s actually the opposite – it can increase stress, isolate individuals from their friends and family, and create resentment towards work.

Breaks are so important. A survey conducted by Airtasker revealed that 37% of remote workers found taking regular breaks was the key to staying productive. Without needing to travel to work, co-workers chatting throughout the day, or staff taking lunch breaks, it becomes easy to spend hours on end at your desk without a break.

Establish your own routine that includes regular breaks – and stick to it. Consider creating your own remote working rules that support you to work effectively and healthily, such as getting outside once a day for fresh air, or a 10-minute desk yoga session to move your body. If necessary, set an alarm to remind yourself to take short breaks throughout the day.

 

3. Stay connected

In most offices, ‘water cooler chats’ with co-workers are integral to the working day. This is stripped away when you move to working from home, and suddenly you may feel disengaged and frustrated by the lack of social interaction. Collaborative projects become more complex when you’re not all in the same room, and finding ways to communicate effectively is so important.

More tools are becoming available to support teams working together remotely. Instant messaging tools allow teams to build a community online, providing space for informal conversations as well as discussing projects. Video calling software helps to maintain working relationships, and being able to see visual and non-verbal cues in a face-to-face meeting, albeit virtually, is valuable to effective communication.

Working from home can put a strain on personal relationships too. Switch off the computer in the evening to give your friends and family your full attention – and be sure to use your vacation allowance to book off time to unwind and stay connected with people outside of work.

 

4. Focus on your goals

Whether it’s temporary due to the pandemic, or a long-term shift to working remotely – don’t let working from home put your career ambitions on hold. Online training provides a flexible and virtual way to learn new skills around your work tasks, and being organized in establishing your goals goes a long way to supporting career progression.

Set up regular one-on-one discussions with your manager and be clear to communicate your achievements and goals. Be proactive in discussing your career ambitions and be confident in yourself and your abilities.

Establish realistic short-term and long-term goals to keep yourself on track, and regularly evaluate your progress. Lining up your own career goals with the organization’s strategic objectives can help showcase your value in the team and boost your career development. Keep these goals in mind each day as you complete your day-to-day work projects, and remind yourself of how each task – no matter how big or small – is helping you on your way towards reaching your goals.

 

5. Prioritize self-care

Wellbeing is linked to higher levels of productivity – set yourself up for long-term success by establishing self-care habits. Make time to do things you enjoy, exercise, eat well, and get a good night’s sleep.

Practice mindfulness and gratitude to calm your mind and stay positive, which can, in turn, improve your energy levels and help you focus. Research by The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that people with a positive mindset are typically more successful as they don’t shy away from opportunities.

There are many advantages to remote working, so long as you can strike a healthy work-life balance and stay focused. Everyone approaches working from home differently – so allow yourself some time to figure out what works best for you. Find yourself a comfortable and quiet space to set up your home office, find your working rhythm, communicate through the good and difficult times, and don’t lose sight of your goals. But most importantly, take care of yourself, don’t allow work to consume you, and establish boundaries to avoid burnout.

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Written by:

KELLY HELLICKSON

PRESIDENT | CXO

Fun Fact

Hilary currently lives in a Philadelphia suburb with her two children who are 13 and 18. They all enjoy traveling the world and most recently traveled to Bermuda, Bahamas, Malibu, San Diego, Key West and Iceland.