At TAP London we’ve had the privilege of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone has adapted well and we continue to shares tips to help each other stay productive while away from the office.
The benefits of working from home are well documented. We’ve certainly enjoyed the greater work/life balance it enables. How productive we are is harder to ascertain. For those juggling homeschooling and work, working from home can be a productivity disaster. Some studies show that working from home can improve productivity and other studies claim the opposite. The real answer is: it depends. It depends on your personal circumstances, the work you are doing and the environment that makes you most productive.
Some work is better to do at home without office distractions and some work is better done in the office where collaboration is key. The general consensus at TAP is that a mixture of home working and office working is optimum. Following the easing of lockdown, we’re in no rush to return to the office en masse. We’ll find out what works best over the coming months within the new guidelines.
Whilst working from home it may be easy to give up on some routines and habits that help improve productivity. Here are some tips that may help you stay productive:
It might be tempting to set your alarm 5 minutes before your day starts, but this will take its toll on your productivity. Keep your morning routines. Wake up at the same time you would if you were going to an office. Get dressed. Meditate. Do some exercise. Go for a walk, run or cycle in the morning before you turn on your laptop and start responding to emails. This will energise you, put you in the right headspace to get started and clear your mind. Get your exercise gear together the night before so that it is ready to go in the morning. Agree to meet someone else for some morning exercise (at a safe distance) – this will greatly reduce the chances that you give it a swerve. Now that you’ve got all that extra time in the morning without the commute there is no excuse!
Having a plan and being organised is essential to staying productive at home. Time can easily drift! Create a list of tasks that you want to complete before the end of the day. Prioritise them and block out time to complete the tasks across the day. Do not forget to take small breaks in-between tasks and set a time for lunch. Go for a quick walk after lunch before getting back to work. Consider cooking the day before or meal prepping, so that when it is time for lunch you don’t need to spend too much time cooking and can quickly heat up your meal.
We are at our most productive at different times of the day. Some people are most productive first thing in the morning. Some people last thing at night. Try and plan to do the work that requires the deepest thought at the times when you are most productive. Try and block out times for tasks that require less brainpower during the times of the day where you are not firing on all cylinders.
While away from the office you might communicate less with your peers. However, it is really important to keep in touch with your colleagues. You might feel cut off and this could adversely impact your mental state. Be sure to keep in touch with your co-workers on a regular basis. A good way to do this is to video call someone different every day for 5-10 minutes and see how they are getting on.
Not everyone will have access to a spacious working environment. But it is important to ensure wherever you are working is clean and tidy. Tidy desk, tidy mind. Try not to work in your bedroom. If possible, dedicate a specific space or room for work and only work in that room or area. By creating physical boundaries, it will help with changing your mindset to one of work.
Ok, it might not be possible to remove your kids from the house. But there are no doubt other distractions getting in the way. Keep distractions such as your phone in another room, so that they are less accessible. If you need to have your phone with you, then try using apps that prevent you from opening your phone or certain apps too much. The screen time app on the iPhone allows you to set daily time limits for certain apps on your phone. The Forest app prevents you from opening your phone unnecessarily by planting a tree for a set period of time – the tree dies if you open your phone before the time period is up. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is surprisingly effective!
As we are in the house, it may seem tempting to multi-task and catch-up on your chores here and there, but this can be distracting. Plan your day before you start working and stick to it! Get the chores done once you’ve finished your work. If you are procrastinating by doing something else instead of the work you are supposed to be doing, then talk to a colleague about it. Often we procrastinate in response to stress. You may be putting off something for fear of not knowing what you should be doing or how you should do it. Talking it through with someone can help overcome these fears and prevent further procrastination.
Talk to your peers, find a time that suits everyone and organise a social. Whether it’s a quiz, a game tournament or something else. Every month at TAP, we select someone at random who takes the responsibility of organising a social activity for the company. This helps us to keep in touch socially on a regular basis and it helps to boost morale.
We’d love to hear any tips you have for working from home.