Are you one of the many individuals drastically impacted by COVID-19 and all its complications? According to SHRM’s COVID-19 Business Index, 64% of U.S. employees are currently working remotely. With the massive shift to the virtual working world, it’s not easy to maintain productivity and passion for your work.
Are you struggling to maintain focus throughout your workdays? Although being forced to work from home was beyond your control, there are still elements you CAN control for a productive workday.
Clear the Clutter
First and foremost, identify your needs. Sort through your essentials and remove the unnecessary items, papers, or trash. If possible, now is the time to move on from the kitchen table or living room coffee table. Do you have room for a desk area containing your computer, monitors, and notepads? If you are a part of the 41% of Americans wishing to return to the office, explore the option of recreating your workspace. Find a time to retrieve elements from your in-office setup, i.e., your monitor, decor, chair, or even desk.
Additionally, your organizational capabilities are not limited to your physical surroundings, but the data on your computer as well. Chances are, many of the folders and documents saved to your desktop can be removed. You can designate time to rid yourself of your ‘digital trash’ and create more space on your computer.
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Identify your biggest hurdles and set a game plan to overcome them. When possible, maintain your regular business hours, set your alarm and get up early. This medium is your best shot at staying productive while maintaining a work-life balance. Working remotely is not an excuse for allowing your level of communication to dip. Clear, honest, and consistent communication within your team and company is critical to staying productive. For example, if your team held weekly meetings every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 a.m., emphasize getting them back up and running.
For an example of what it looks like to map out an entire day in advance, check out this article from The Muse’s Susie Moore, who has over six years of work-from-home experience.
“Our estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.” -Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics
Block out the Distractions
Establish boundaries sooner rather than later. While it is encouraged to create time for coffee or lunch hangouts, it needs to dissolve at just that. Make it clear to your friends and family that despite being at home, you are at work. However, don’t allow your workload to push you into the evening too often. After your shift, be sure to dedicate time to see them elsewhere. Skipping out too many times can result in feelings of career burnout and ‘bottled up’ thoughts.
If you know yourself to be easily distracted by phone applications such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or ESPN, shut off these notifications on your phone during the workday.
Are you content with the speed and efficiency of your internet connection? Are you the only one using it during the workday? No matter what your role may be, a speedy and stable connection is critical to staying productive and efficient in your daily routine. If you are sharing usage with a roommate or your spouse/children and have experienced moments of lagging, it may be time for an upgrade. If you are required to work from home and feel your broadband connection is lackluster, reach out to your manager/boss to help accommodate. After all, your employer wants to set you up with the best chance to perform your best and remain efficient.
When taking care of your mind and body, it is crucial to dedicate time to physical and mental exercises. Step outside, stay limber and give your mind a break during the workday. For myself, this looks like dedicating a block of time to morning stretches and light, in-home workouts. Are you taking advantage of your employer’s resources to combat mental stress or fatigue? If you have not received any, reach out to a superior to make this happen.
Further, finding a new hobby or developing a new skill can help fill the gaps in your daily routine before COVID-19. Courtesy of the Miami Herald, here are some of the most popular across the country: Reading, online games, sewing, crocheting, puzzles, card games, instruments, DIY projects, and at-home workouts.
Another great way to give your mind a break is to make plans outside your home for lunch. Whether it is alone, with a loved one, or catching up with a friend, eating lunch away from the desk can renew your energy and creativity after the busy morning. If you are unable to find the time and location to meet up, utilize video chatting services such as Zoom, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger.
Setting yourself up for success in your ‘home office’ begins with intentionality. Remove the non-essentials from your workspace and follow a consistent schedule. Establishing boundaries with your friends and family is vital, but setting blocks of time to ‘check-in’ is critical to your mental health. Courtesy of a recent global study by Qualtrics, over 40% of employees said their mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak began. For more great tips and resources to alleviate stress/anxiety and improve your overall well-being, click here.
Remote Working Statistics
- “56% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible (at least partially) with remote work.” (Global Workplace Analytics)
- “Before the crisis, surveys repeatedly showed that 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time.” (Global Workplace Analytics)
- “Work-at-home will save U.S. employers over $30 Billion a day in what would have otherwise been lost productivity during office closures due to COVID-19” (Global Workplace Analytics)
- “88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home”.” (Gartner, Coronavirus in Mind: Make Remote Work Successful)