By Josh Williams, Ph.D. & Julia Borges, M.A.
Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, more organizational leaders are making the challenging and responsible decision to shift everyday work to be done remotely by employees. While this can support the slow of this pandemic, this work style can present a host of organizational challenges, stressors, and increase levels of uncertainty. If organizations are going to shift to remote work, it is important that they gather and implement best practices to make this transition as seamless as possible:
• Set aside a specific place to work. Having a designated work area helps compartmentalize work and minimize home distractions. It also sends a signal to family members that you are unavailable when working in your workspace. As an aside, it is worthwhile to check if working from home may have tax deduction implications.1
• Create well defined work times. Working from home allows for increased productivity since many distractions (e.g., coworkers chatting, etc.) are eliminated. However, it’s critical to set specific start and end times and maintain this discipline when “on the clock.” Creating specific work time parameters allows for better production along with an easier separation between work-life and home-life issues.
• Stay connected. One of the biggest disadvantages of home offices is that it’s easy for employees to work in silos without getting context from nearby coworkers. Setting up regular touchpoint meetings and making the effort to email and call coworkers keeps important communication flowing throughout the organization. It also may fight social isolation that some people may feel moving from a traditional environment to a home office.2,3
• Schedule periodic breaks to stay fresh. It’s important to take regular breaks to avoid fatigue along with potential concerns like repetitive motion injuries. We think more clearly when we make time to take breaks, go for walks etc., during the business day.
• Avoid the traps of social media and other media distractions. It can be enticing to spend too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media during the workday. Another distraction can be the volatility of the stock market, especially in times like these. While staying up to date is important, ensuring it doesn’t consume your day is crucial. Treat yourself to these activities once your workday is over or set aside time to keep yourself up to date with the latest news. Eliminating these items from toolbar bookmarks may also help.4
• Prioritize your tasks to match your productive time. Individuals have different times when they’re most productive. Some early risers are highly efficient in the morning while others work better later in the day. Setting up easy-to-complete tasks during your less productive times frees you up to use your maximum brainpower during times when you’re most productive.5
• Keep an ergonomically fit workspace. Whether you are in the office or at home, keeping a workspace that ensures your health and wellbeing is crucial. Here’s a list of a few items that can help you achieve this: a laptop stand that ensures your computer screen is at eye level, a remote keyboard and mouse, and an ergonomic office chair.
While organizations and individual work styles are all unique and solutions may differ based on that, these tips are some ways to get organizations thinking about how to increase productivity in remote work, while also making it an enjoyable, safe experience. Employees may even find that with using these tips, they are getting more done at home than they were at the office.