10 tips to enhance productivity whilst working from home during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In a bid to slow down the spread of The Coronavirus, many businesses have been forced to offer the option of working from home to their employees whilst some have closed their offices entirely. Whilst working from home sounds great, in reality, especially for long stretches it can feel very isolating which can have a great impact productivity. We have put together 10 useful evidence-based tips that will help you enhance productivity away from the office.
The rapid spread of Coronavirus in such a short period of time has caused a very sudden change for all of us. It has forced people to make a hurried transition to a temporary new way of life and find ways to adapt to a new working culture, fast. Although temporary, we have no clear time frame and some articles suggest that we may have to participate in social distancing measures for up to a year. Whilst there are many workers in industries that will never have the option of working from home, such as scientists or onsite construction workers, those that are mostly desk based (over 80%) will have to find ways to quickly acclimatise.
Working from home has some evident benefits. Some of these include reduced travel costs, zero hours commuting and a more flexible schedule. However, the sudden shift for hundreds of thousands of people, could potentially be very isolating and cause a huge loss of motivation and morale. Furthermore, during a time of national quarantine, working from home with the constant disturbances such as those from young children who are also home-bound could have a huge impact on productivity. Also causing high levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
We did some research into some people who have either been forced to or given the option of working from home and asked them what is most important to them to get the most out of their working day whilst remaining in their home environment.
We asked, ‘‘how easy is it for you to work productively from home on a scale of 1 to 10?’’
The average answer was 6.5/10. In order to find out what affects productivity, we then asked people what their main concern was about working from home.
In response, an overwhelming amount of people said that they would miss face to face daily interaction with their co-workers. The absence of office culture coupled with other social activities outside of working hours no longer being available to us, means that it’s vital to find new ways to stay connected to protect our mental health and well-being. Finding new ways to stay connected will become imperative if the government implement social distancing measures for as long as scientists are suggesting is needed.
To establish what simple measures can be taken to improve productivity when working from home, we asked people ‘‘which variables are most important to you when working from home?’’.
A common importance to people was their working space. Having a tidy, organised and dedicated work area, free from distraction, came up most frequently as having a major impact on productivity.
Another common importance was taking short breaks from sitting down for long periods and keeping mobile. This might be in the form of a short walk outside in the fresh air or participating in a short exercise routine.
Lastly, the third most common concern which 70% of people listed in their top three priorities of working from home is having structure to their working day at home the same as they would implement in an office environment I.e. short breaks and a set start and finish time.
What other variables can we control to increase our productivity when working from home? See below our top 10 tips for working from home during Coronavirus, based on the conversations we had with employees and employers from various roles such as directors, sales managers, contracts managers and office clerks.
- Daily Schedule’s
Put a schedule in place and try to stick to it as much as possible. Things can change throughout the course of any working day but it’s good to have a schedule in place to get yourself into some sort of routine so that it still feels like you are ‘going to work’. Pick a definitive start and end to your day so that you can still separate work from your personal life.
- Take breaks
Allocate set times for short breaks, working for long periods of time causes exhaustion which will be counterproductive. Taking short breaks can increase productivity and creativity allowing the mind to replenish. It’s a good idea to use your scheduled breaks to let your brain recharge and replenish its resources to get the most from your working hours. Use the time to keep mobile and if possible, to get some fresh air.
- Increase Comfort.
A good chair for posture is important for long periods of sitting. For example, your feet should be flat on the floor and you shouldn’t be slumped over at your desk or table. You can even buy an adjustable posture correctors which may be worth the small investment. An anti-glare screen on your laptop could be beneficial for long periods of concentration. It’s also important to ensure there’s a nearby window or form of ventilation for fresh air which leads onto the next point.
- Go outside.
Getting out and getting fresh air has been proven to give you more energy and a clearer, sharper mind. It’d also good for your overall health strengthening your immune system and ability to fight of disease more effectively. That’s why ventilating fresh air indoors is also important and much healthier than continually breathing in stale air. Breathing in more fresh air means breathing in more oxygen which provides more brain clarity thus increasing productivity. You might also consider looking at a ventilation or air conditioning system for the summer months. Remember to follow safe distancing guidelines.
- Maintain social interaction.
Use technology to stay connected. Video conferencing can be used to keep up to date with co-workers and clients. Working from home in 2020 means we are well equipped with the technology and tools to stay in touch. Allocate a specific time each day to touch base with co-workers.
- Shower and get dressed.
Shower each morning and get dressed like you would if you were going into an office environment. You’ll feel better in yourself and this will project into your phone calls, work and general productivity.
- Keep distractions to a minimum.
If possible, allocate a quiet room/space dedicated to working. Allocate times for household chores, so that they don’t interfere with your productivity. Better still, try and complete them before you sit down to work so they’re not at the back of your mind bothering you. Play music to drown out and distract from any unwanted background noise. Studies show music improves morale and can help you work faster and more efficiently.
Make your partner or family aware of your schedule and pin it up somewhere visible to encourage them to respect when you’re particularly busy.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Your physical activity will probably decrease, due to several reasons specific to different individuals and their roles. You might not be walking to the train station, to the coffee shop at lunch or travelling to and from meetings. So, you should make a special effort to take short walks whilst benefitting from fresh air and a mental break from work tasks. Eating good nutritious foods will improve your energy levels, ability to concentrate and overall self-esteem. Eating healthily will also reduce your risk of disease, which during this pandemic, is critical. Recently published on MUSC Health is an article on long lasting nutritious foods for a ‘healthy quarantine’.
- Set goals and deadlines for yourself.
Setting yourself deadlines, enables you to manage multiple or large projects without feeling overwhelmed. Deadlines can be set to help you achieve tasks large and small. It is motivating to highlight deadlines that are met and naturally encourages momentum. It also allows you to prioritise what’s most important.
- Keep a tidy workspace.
A decluttered workspace contributes towards a decluttered head space! A clean and organised working area instantly makes you feel at ease and reduces stress levels and removes any added distraction. Keyboards and screens accumulate a shocking number of germs. Regularly clean down surfaces and use antibacterial spray or wipes to kill bacteria.
Thank you for reading ’10 working from home tips during Coronavirus’.
*Statistics are based on a survey carried out between 7th and 21st March 2020. A total of 70 random people provided data and the age ranged from 18-60, a mixture of male and female.
How do you maintain your productivity and morale? Can you add to our top 10 useful working from home tips during the Coronavirus? We’d love to hear your comments.