The pandemic led to the largest change in the way we all work, for at least 20 years, with the biggest change the percentage of people now working from home on either a full-time basis on in a hybrid manner. In fact, research we conducted showed that over 80% of people are now working from home for at least part of the week, with more people now spending the majority of the working week at home rather than in an office.
Interestingly we learnt whilst producing our reports that many people work at home despite the fact that they feel they are slightly less productive than in the office. However, the flexibility they are enjoying, and the increased work/life balance means that most professionals are not willing to return to the office full-time even if they are less productive. So below we offer our top tips on how productivity could be improved working from home.
1 – Create a designated workspace
Many people who work from home are doing so from the comfort of their bedrooms or sofas. If possible, choose a separate room that you can set up as a dedicated office. This will give you a distinction between your ‘work life’ and ‘home life’ and should allow you to gain more focus in your work. It should also ensure that you maintain a good posture which will decrease the chances of back pain and headaches and will increase your energy levels. All key to improving productivity.
2 – Limit distractions
It can be tempting when working from home to mix up the day with some of the household chores that you would normally have to use up time in the evenings and weekends to complete. Whilst you should not feel that you can't complete any of these tasks during the day, try not to let them come up when you are in the middle of work tasks. For instance, set the washing machine to finish at lunchtime, rather than whilst you are in your working mode. Also avoid the temptation of putting the TV on for background noise and instead listen to music. Music can boost your mood and reduce stress, whereas television can become a distraction.
If you have children or partners at home for some of the working day, ensure that you have set boundaries with them. The odd conversation may be a timely break, but they need to understand you are working and not available whenever they want you.
3 – Set a working routine
Our most recent research showed that 72% of people now have a different working routine than before the pandemic. However, this does not mean you shouldn't have a set routine. Make sure that you get changed out of your pyjamas in the morning before you start work – it is important that there is a boundary between your professional life and home life. Set yourself a schedule that works for you but is focused on being in control of your workload.
It is also important to include an activity within you're routine which marks the end of the working day. This could be going for a walk, going to the gym, doing your daily Wordle or simply cooking a meal. Just make sure to have something in place that tells you to switch off from work mode.
4 – Take regular breaks
Without breaks and conversations you will find that your productivity drops. Make sure you take time to break away from your desk, rehydrate and maybe call colleagues for a catch up. Ensure that you have a proper break at lunch time and switch off from your work. Your lunch break could be a great time to get some fresh air and concentrate on your mental wellbeing.
5 – Ensure you have time in your diary to catch up with colleagues
Our reports suggested that the biggest thing that professionals were missing when working remotely, was being connected with colleagues. Make sure that you have time put aside in the day to speak to your colleagues; without this there is a danger that you will start to feel disengaged or isolated. Make sure that your conversations are both work and non-work related. If you were in an office, you would certainly take an interest in the personal life of colleagues and it is important that you don’t lose personal connections. Try and make sure that these catch ups involve videos so that you can see each other.
6 – Use the flexibility to develop yourself
One of the advantages that have come due to the pandemic, is that training/development has become more easily accessible online. Whilst you are at home, schedule in time to access some of these materials to pick up new skills/ideas. We found that many professionals had increased their development time due to the flexibility offered and this keeps them motivated and productive.
Another advantage of the pandemic is the number of online networking groups that have sprung up. Find groups which are relevant to your professional interests and join in with their networking. You will find this an excellent way of meeting like-minded professionals and share ideas. Many professionals we have spoken to have found that informal networking has led to professional growth during the pandemic. Make use of social channels and speak to people in your industry, and industries that interest you. As the saying goes; It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.