Coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been lifted in many places. Even so, plenty of companies have extended remote work for large segments of their workforce. If this includes you, you may need to revisit your strategy on remote work and adapt it for the long haul. Simple changes to your approach like improving your environment can increase your productivity and morale.
Here are some tips for creating good habits while working remotely long term.
Reassess your remote environment
Do you feel productive in your current office workspace? If not, it’s time to find ways to make some changes. Look around to see how you can create a home office that fits your specific needs. Will decluttering provide extra space? Or do you need to undertake some renovations?
Your goal is to create a safe, quiet space conducive to working remotely, so consider all your options. There are many “life hacks” and creative ways to boost your productivity at home. It can be as simple as improving cord management and decluttering to reorganizing your entire room. Changing up your workspace is new and exciting, often feeling like a breath of fresh air that ultimately boosts productivity.
Come to terms with your live-in co-worker
If you and your spouse or significant other are working from home at the same time, you may need to set some basic guidelines to ensure that each of you are able to perform your respective jobs well. Consider creating a shared calendar with your work schedules, delegating house duties, and the care/schooling of your children.
Keep in mind that you and your “live-in co-worker” may have completely different work habits and needs. If you respect each other’s time, space, and habits, your remote work situation is more likely to succeed. Communicate often and freely when issues arise to resolve them quickly and amicably. The more placid your home front, the easier it will be to work there.
Set up online connectivity
Most homes today have online access. Still, employers shouldn’t automatically assume it’s adequate for working remotely. If you need a Wi-Fi upgrade, talk to your supervisor about helping make that happen.
Reliable internet service is crucial to keeping in touch with your boss, co-workers, and clients on time-sensitive projects. It also enables you to keep up with the news so you can stay abreast of what’s happening around you.
When you share internet service with your spouse, school-age children, elderly parents, and teens, you may need faster, more reliable Wi-Fi or a new router to accommodate your work needs. Depending on your home’s location, you may need to invest in a more extensive data plan or a mobile hotspot to improve communications and connectivity.
Acquire essential hardware and software
Part of setting up a home office is having the hardware and software you need for the job. When it comes to hardware, make sure you have the basics, including a quality computer, printer/scanner, microphone and camera for virtual meetings, and — of course — a phone and charger.
You’ll also need a good desk, ergonomic chair, and compact office files. Before you make any purchases, check with your employer first. Oftentimes they are willing to help with some or all of these expenses to perform the duties of the job.
Teleconferencing software like Zoom or GoToMeeting is a must for video chats with your managers and colleagues. If you have mediocre typing skills, you may want speech-recognition software, which enables you to dictate messages, reports, and other documents into your computer for transcription into text.
Your employer may also require that you use a virtual private network (VPN) when communicating with your office to keep information private. If you’re not up on the latest technology, choose tools that are straightforward and easy to use.
Plan your day
Plan your day by making checklists of what needs to get done. Prioritize your work so that the most important jobs are tackled first, when your mind is fresh and can handle difficult tasks.
Planning ahead will keep you organized and will also be rewarding when you cross items off your checklist. Keeping this habit will increase your output and help you stay motivated every day. It’s equally important to plan for balance between productivity and your well-being. So don’t forget to schedule breaks during the day as well to refresh your mind, body, and soul.
Keep distractions to a minimum
The risk of distractions is greater when you work from home, especially if you share the environment with your partner, family, or pets. It takes self-discipline to resist the urge to stop and get involved in the home front. But often that’s what you have to do to get work done.
If you want to use break times for folding laundry or washing lunch dishes, try planning this into your day so you stay productive. Otherwise, keep work hours separate from home responsibilities.
Separate work from ‘play’
Establish a work schedule that clarifies when you’re on and off the job. Choose work hours wisely so you can make progress on projects and meet deadlines and goals. Sync your schedule with fellow workers so you’ll be available for meetings and answering emails and texts.
Extending work hours simply because you can is a recipe for burnout. At the end of the day, it’s time to disconnect from work and connect with people you love. Once your work hours are done, unplug. Even if you’re free, put your work aside to recharge. Go for a jog, play with your kids, take your pooch out for a walk.
Working remotely has allowed many people to keep their jobs. A regular income lets you buy essential goods for the household, pay bills, and save for the future. It also enables you to reduce credit card debt so you’ll have borrowing power when you need it most—especially during a pandemic.
It’s not easy to balance the work-from-home lifestyle. However, with some daily planning and organizing, you can sustain your health and home life while working remotely during the pandemic and beyond.