The 5 Work from Home Best Practices That Will Increase Your Productivity in 2021
When COVID-19 lockdowns first began in early 2020, companies in almost every industry and sector were forced to shut down their offices and shift to remote work overnight. For many employees, working from home was a new experience and adapting to the sudden change was a challenge. Now, almost a year later, remote work has become the new norm. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
We’re looking at the work from home best practices that will make people more productive in 2021.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best ways to be productive while working from home is to set a schedule for your day and stick to it. When everyone was going into the office, there was probably a time you were expected to arrive at work and a time when you wrapped up your work and went home. Can you keep the same hours while working remotely? Having a clear start and end to your day helps you maintain work-life balance and actually makes you more productive during the workday.
Another way to optimize your day and stick to a schedule is to use an app that tracks your time and helps you figure out when you’re most productive. RescueTime is a popular one and it allows you to see how well you stick to the schedule you created. You can also use the data to determine what time of day you’re most focused. Based on that information, you could even try shifting your schedule so that you do your most important tasks during your hours of peak productivity.
Improve Your Workspace
When COVID-19 forced everyone to stay at home in the early months of 2020, many employees had to quickly find workspace in crowded houses alongside partners, spouses, and children. In their efforts to find a quiet place where they could get work done, people resorted to some unusual office setups. As funny as most were, however, none of them have proved efficient in the long run. That’s why, with remote work and hybrid work models likely for the foreseeable future, having a dedicated home office space is so important.
Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure you have the tools you need in your home office. Does your job require a special software? Do you need two computer screens to work effectively on projects? Will headphones with a built-in microphone help you when you’re on the phone with customers? Ask your employer about any items you need to be more productive. Chances are they’ll want you to work more efficiently at home as well and they’ll be willing to get you the equipment to make that happen.
Last, don’t forget that while it’s great to have a dedicated workspace at home, you aren’t tied to that spot. Sometimes a change of scenery can be just the spark you need to be more productive while working from home.
Establish Ground Rules
For those of us still sharing space at home with family members, setting some ground rules and expectations can be helpful for everyone. Are you and your partner both working from home? Do you have children in virtual classrooms studying during the day? Establishing rules that you all agree to follow can make everyone more productive and help you get along better.
For example, think back to that work schedule you set for yourself. Are there times during the day when it’s okay for you to be interrupted? How can you let others know when you’re on a work call or in a meeting and shouldn’t be disturbed? What about mealtimes? Are there activities that are too noisy and need to be banned during the day? Of course, the rules will look different for every household and might even change as outside circumstances do, but establishing ground rules is a good first step.
Working from home can be quite an adjustment and it’s common for productivity levels and attitudes to shift a lot from day to day. Maybe you’re dealing with added stress and distractions one week, the next you’re relaxed and efficient, and the week after that you’re left feeling lonely and isolated. First, cut yourself some slack. We all have good and bad days. Next, consider how you can prioritize your health and well-being. What makes you feel like your best self?
Some days that might mean taking a longer break to go for a walk or cooking yourself a nice meal. Or maybe exercise is your thing and a run, home workout, or yoga class helps you reset. Whatever works for you, set aside time to decompress and take care of yourself. While working from home may have its challenges, especially during a pandemic, one of the biggest benefits is flexibility, so use it to your advantage and take care of yourself. You’ll be a better, more productive employee when you do.
Make Time to Connect
We’ve covered a lot of tips for working from home effectively but working remotely doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from the colleagues you’d encounter in the office. Yes, remote work can feel isolating, but don’t forget you’re still part of a larger team and you aren’t working alone. That’s why maintaining connections with your coworkers is so crucial. Regular video meetings help with face-to-face connection, as do communication tools like Slack and Teams which allow for instant messaging with individuals and groups.
It’s also a good idea to recreate those “water cooler” moments and informal social interactions that happen in an office. Did your team have a weekly lunch or monthly happy hour? Were there regular professional development sessions or a company book club? Consider taking these types of events virtual to stay connected with colleagues. Not only do they boost team morale, but they also help everyone stay motivated and productive while working from home.
Are you looking for remote work opportunities? Check out our open positions and send us your resume to get started!