Tips to Stay Focused and Organized While Working Remotely
The pandemic has forced many businesses to shut their operations completely or trim employee strength. Consequently, many people have lost their jobs. Those lucky enough to have avoided a lost job are likelier to be working from home. This was supposedly a temporary phenomenon. However, even after the impact of pandemic has significantly waned, a large number of companies are offering permanent work from home options or hybrid working opportunities with more flexibility.
Are you one of the employees working from home? While you enjoy the flexibility associated with work from home, you must find a way to stay organized. This is important because working from home is not half as easy as you probably imagine.
At the office, you are likelier to remain focused on the tasks in front of you and complete them within deadlines. When you work from home, this seemingly simple task might sometimes become surprisingly tough. There could be lack of demarcation between personal and professional life. You may have to deal with kids wading in with questions for school assignments or your spouse or partner intruding into your ‘official’ space just because they need your help with something they think is important, or just because they are free for some time.
That being said, working from home can offer some surprisingly exciting opportunities and a few unique conveniences. You can leverage these benefits to develop a better work-life balance. All you have to do is find a way of staying organized while working remotely.
Working From Home – A Few Challenges and Some Benefits Too
While many IT employees continue to work for home or in a hybrid environment, home office will continue to be the office for a few months, or maybe years, or even forever. This will depend on how quickly and efficiently we can control and conquer the COVID-19 situation or the kind of flexibility your employer is comfortable with.
Obviously, there are challenges. Managers may be concerned whether their team members are really working. Employees can feel isolated and may find it difficult to adapt to a work environment where there is no one to converse with. The physical disconnect may affect team dynamics, and that invisible underlying cord that connects everyone may lose its tautness.
The positive side of working from home is that it is a win-win for everyone – you, your family, and your organization. The stress of the daily commute and the need to get properly dressed are all gone.
“Organizations that don’t offer home working may be missing out on a large pool of talent, many of whom now value home working more than they value a bonus or a perk.” Sarah Harvey captures the situation pretty aptly in her book ‘The Ultimate A-Z of Home Working’.
Unlike in an office, you are responsible for creating the right working environment while working from home.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can achieve the right balance.
Design a Comfortable Workspace
If you have not done yet, the most crucial part of adapting to the WFH norm is to create the right workspace that makes you feel comfortable and puts you in charge of things.
- Make sure you have enough room to work comfortably.
- Place everything you need within your reach.
- Have all the equipment you need at hand.
- If you wish, you can give some ‘office touches,’ such as using motivational posters or to-do charts to help you feel ‘at office’ while working from home.
- Invest in a high-quality office chair to work comfortably.
- Shut out all potential disturbances (People, pets).
- Choose a place that’s well-lit and airy but make sure there’s very little noise around you.
Maintain Healthy Routines
Working from home can be physically and mentally challenging and that is why you must identify and follow some healthy practices. Even if commuting was a challenge, it gave your body a physical shakeup. Now that you are confined to your home and your workspace for a long time, it can affect your health. The urge to focus on work harder and finish faster might affect your eating habits. This could lead to unhealthy snacking. Here are some tips to maintain good health while working from home:
- Take short breaks to keep you energized and focused.
- Short breaks will also help in taking the strain away from your eyes due to incessant screen time.
- Avoid checking up your phone during your breaks.
- Talk a walk around your space and inhale fresh air to feel light and energetic.
- Drink lots of water to keep yourself properly hydrated.
Find Ways to Boost Your Productivity
It is normal to struggle with productivity issues while working from home. There is less pressure when working away from under the gaze of superiors. Working away from co-employees and participating in online meetings can also create focus issues.
You can address these issues by taking the following steps:
- Create a work calendar and follow it religiously.
- Get ready and try to wear formal or semi formal clothes while working from home. It helps to set the right mental framework for working.
- Have a video conference calls instead of phone calls with your peers and managers.
- Be on work chat rooms like Teams during office hours so colleagues can communicate any time.
- Avoid taking personal calls during work hours unless they are really urgent or unavoidable.
- Avoid checking social media on your computer and smartphone. Try to disable all non-work related notifications during your work hours.
- Avoid doing things you would not do while you are at the office, such as picking up snacks from the kitchen, calling out a neighbor, watching sports on the TV or your smartphone, etc.
Make Sure Your Systems Are Secure
There could be a significant difference in the way you use the computer systems at home and office. In the office, you work in a highly secure environment within a dedicated server and other state-of-the-art security systems. In most cases, it is not possible to have the same level of security while working from home.
Here are a few things you must take care of:
- Use a secured Wi-Fi network with a very strong password.
- Back up your data securely and at regular intervals. Don’t save sensitive data on any media that’s not protected adequately.
- Do not use any external drives that can potentially transfer viruses and malware to your systems.
- Ensure your computer is locked when you are away from your desk. While your partner and family don’t pose any security risks, a pet or your kids might unintentionally mishandle the system.
While you may be tempted to show your team/supervisors that you are working hard despite the apparent lack of supervision by working odd hours, this can affect your health and relationships. Set definite timelines for various tasks and stay focused on them while at work. Limit the time spent on social media. You can lose precious minutes or sometimes hours if you drift into your favorite topic. It is a good idea to apportion time slots for all such activities so that you don’t waste time on tasks that are strictly unofficial. Maintaining discipline when you work from home can make you more productive and lets you enjoy the flexibility.