As soon as the Internet started in 1983, remote working or telecommuting became a thing. JC Penny may have been the first big business to allow a large group of its workers to telecommute when its call centre employees started working from home in the mid-1980s.
When Wifi was created in 1991, businesses knew before long most of their staff would be Flexi-working, i.e. working part of the week from home. In fact according to this infographic 70 per cent of the global population work from home once a week and 53 per cent at least half the week.
Now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all work from home! Except for people in essential services, in sectors such as infrastructure, utilities, primary (food, agriculture).
Remote working one day a week can be achieved with the laptop on your lap, and maybe you work this way on the sofa in the living room or on a chair in your bedroom or when the weather permits outside in the garden. However, working the full week this way is not sustainable, you need an ergonomic work environment to see you through the full work week of up to 40 hours. Plus working from home requires a routine, and that includes taking breaks for exercise and refreshments.
Remote Working Tips
In this article, we look at how you can be more productive working from home amidst distractions, and less contact with management and colleagues.
Designated Work Area
In your home, set yourself up for success with a designated work area. Ideally, this space will be yours for up to 40 hours a week without much distraction from your family or housemates. You will need an ergonomic desk, chair, and workstation.
To really get into the work mindset, mirror your workspace at home as it is in the office. This tip is particularly useful for employees who are now grounded at home due to coronavirus and it’s an unfamiliar environment for work activity.
When To Work
You’re at home; however, this shouldn’t deter you from keeping regular work hours. If you’re used to starting work at 08.30am and finishing at 5.30pm every day, then stick with it at home.
Avoid the temptation to work in the evening or on the weekends instead of your usual work time schedule. Even if you’re a night owl and believe you’re more productive after your evening meal, when life returns to normal, you’ll find it very difficult to change back to normal office hours.
The toughest part of remote working is the isolation, i.e. it’s only you in the home office! Introverts are more likely to enjoy being alone whereas extroverts may find it a lot harder to maintain focus without the voices and presence of colleagues.
Junior employees may also feel lost without their manager giving them the odd visual cue of encouragement. Thankfully there is a platitude of technology and software tools for audio and video communications.
Use video conferencing software like Zoom, Skype, Go To Meeting, ZoHo, Microsoft teams to stay in regular contact with your management and colleagues.
Set up daily, weekly meetings with customers too. If you are easily distracted a meeting will give you boundaries so you can fill in the time between meetings with your usual workflow tasks.
When you use real-time internet systems, you need fast fibre or broadband connectivity from your home telecoms provider. What’s caught a lot of workers out especially during the pandemic is when more than one person is working from home and accessing the internet for streaming services.
Slow data upload and download speeds will hinder your ability to work as efficiently as you do in the office. Also while at home, you may experience a rise in power usage, so charge your devices overnight during off-peak hours, and use the prescheduling on your home appliances to operate during off-peak hours to save power and reduce your costs.
Take Breaks At The Same Time Every Day
If you routinely eat your lunch at 1pm then stick to the time every workday even when you’re working from home. Also, eat a similar amount and ideally what you’d normally eat for lunch.
A big distraction is having access to your kitchen, pantry and fridge while at home. Cooking up a hot meal for lunch may be enticing, but if you usually eat a sandwich while at work, then this is what you should eat when you’re teleworking.
Overeat during the day and you’ll fall asleep during the afternoon, or appear drowsy on that all-important video call. To keep your productivity at a premium, eat only what you need, not what your eyes can sight in your kitchen!
Travelling to and from work requires some exercise that you don’t automatically get when you work from home. Therefore you need to create and stick to an exercise program.
Before work mimic the same level of movement as you’d get travelling to the office or at least spend at least 20 minutes before work cycling, or walking, or another aerobic activity. This will require all your powers of discipline, but the exercise will reward you with focus, energy, alertness to excel at your job.
Finish your day after work with another period of exercise. This is your reward for a good day in the home office!
Remote working is harder than you think, but with a plan and routine, you can avoid distractions, maintain focus and probably achieve a lot more than you do in the work office.