The invoicely team has been working remotely for two weeks now to help contain the virus outbreak and we discovered how working from home presents a completely new set of challenges.
The transition from working in an office to working from home is not an easy one. The lack of a professional environment and of regulated work time makes it hard to stay organised, while the isolation might have negative effects on some people.
What can you do to minimise the negative effects of working from home? We’re sharing a few tips that have worked for us.
Create a designated workspace
If it’s possible, create a designated workspace at home, no matter how small. Using a separate area for work will help you concentrate better and strike a balance between work time and free time. When you are done working for the day you can move from your workspace to your relaxation space, giving your brain the cue that now it’s downtime.
Make a plan for the day
In order to work efficiently, you need a structured plan. Try to write a list of tasks you want to get done for each day, either in the morning or at the end of the day before. Having a plan will help you stay focused and productive.
Set up working hours
Being at home the whole time tends to blur the boundaries between work time and downtime. However, separating work time from leisure time is just as important as keeping your work space and your leisure space separate.
Some remote workers tend to start the workday late and then work in short bursts interrupted by house chores, conversations with household members or other distractions. They then end up having to work until late in the evening in order to finish the workload. This way, they never reach the level of concentration needed for more complex tasks and also risk getting burned out because they never have downtime.
You should work during business hours as much as possible and make sure you have longer periods of uninterrupted work, but also relaxation time at the end of the workday.
Take scheduled breaks
While some people tend to be distracted too easily when they work from home, others forget to take breaks from work altogether. In an office environment it’s easier to remember to take a break, especially when others around you do it, but at home you might need to set yourself reminders to get up and stretch your legs every hour or so and go grab a glass of water. It’s good for your health and you will concentrate better afterwards.
Remove distractions or schedule them for later
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that there are a lot of distractions, like TV, social media, noise made by family members or pets, or the sudden need you feel to clean up the room or do the washing up.
If noise is an issue, noise-cancelling headphones can be a big help. You can also agree on a schedule with your family, setting up a few hours when you can work uninterrupted and then taking a 10-minute break to play football with your kids or have a cup of coffee with your partner.
If social media is the problem and you don’t need it for work, you can download a social media blocking tool.
Try to keep your work area clean, so it won’t distract you from work and plan to do any house chores before or after work.
Keep in touch with your work colleagues
Stay in touch with your team members not only by sharing work updates, but also on a human level. Human connection and team spirit are very important and when you work from home, you can't meet a team mate at the coffee machine by chance or exchange a couple of words with the colleague working in front of you.
You can make up for this by arranging a short video call with one of your colleagues at least every few days to find out how they are doing and chat a little bit. It will make you feel less isolated and more connected.
Use software to make your life easier
When you work from home, you need communication tools, because you can't just pop up in the other room to say something to your colleagues. You can also profit from software that allows you to go paperless, since at home you don't have access to the company's heavy-duty printers and scanners.
Some helpful tools for remote workers are Zoom for video calls, Dropbox for sharing files, Slack for chatting to your team members, eversign for sending documents to be signed electronically, Evernote to take notes and share them with your team, invoicely for sending and tracking digital invoices and Google Suite for spreadsheets and documents that can be edited by multiple users simultaneously. Most of these software tools have free basic plans, so there is no need to spend a fortune.
We hope these tips are going to help you, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section if you would like us to write about any other topics related to working remotely.