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Tips for working from home: how to stay productive and connected

Jan 27, 2021 by Monica Garcia

When you start your journey of working from home, the first few weeks might feel like a blessing. You don’t have to get up in time to catch the bus or any other type of public transport to get to work, and if you don’t have any important video meetings, you don’t even have to take off your pajamas or take a shower! But although there are perks, there are also some challenges. 

In the beginning, it is easy to see all the benefits of this new lifestyle, and even though it is proven to be an effective way to create a work-life balance, you might notice that there can also be a few disadvantages when working from home. For example, it will not provide you with the same structure as working from an office. You have to set your boundaries. And this can be done by, for example, maintaining regular working hours, having a dedicated workspace, and making sure to start and finish your day at approximately the same time every day. Here you have some tips for working from home that we have compiled for you.

Woman working from home

1. Create a workspace

At first, it can be hard for your brain to associate your apartment or house with work. Here is where you used to come to after your workday was done and where you could relax. Therefore it can be a challenge to stay now as productive and motivated at home as if you were at the office. For example, it is easy to get distracted by household chores when you are working from home.

Therefore, a great tip is to set up a workspace dedicated to your working from home experience. Ensure that you are comfortable and that there are no immediate distractions in your direct eyesight, for example, a pile of dishes in the kitchen. Maybe there is also a way you can alternate between sitting down and standing up when you work. So that you can get an ergonomic benefit as well.

2. Schedule and to-do-lists

Keeping a tight schedule and filling your day with tasks is a great way to stay on top of everything that needs to be done. Start your morning by planning out your day and make a to-do-list of everything that needs to be done. If you have a solid idea of what your week will be, you can also start your Monday morning by planning out the rest of the week.

Another tip on how to stay productive at home is to try the so-called Pomodoro Technique. This is a technique that allows you to work in intervals. Many people get usually distracted by their phones or social media during work hours, and a way to avoid this is by only allowing yourself to look at your phone during breaks. With the Pomodoro Technique, you set a timer for 25 minutes, and during this interval, you can only focus on your tasks. When the timer goes off, you are allowed a short break, and then you set it for another 25 minutes and continue.

3. Book in daily meetings - Stay connected with your colleagues

There are a lot of social benefits to working from an office. You can easily walk over to your colleagues' desks for a quick chat. This is usually a nice break from your everyday work schedule and an essential part of any office culture. When you are working from home, you miss out on these small moments, and after a while, it can start to feel very isolating just having your own company every day. Thankfully there are many ways of staying connected to your colleagues even during these times. 

For example, many chat programs allow you to both call and chat. This way, you can book video calls with your colleagues as often as every day. Instead of writing a message or an email, suggest a quick call, then you can explain what you want in detail and avoid misunderstandings. The call doesn’t have to be longer than 10 minutes, just like a quick chat in the office would have been. 

Some many other tools and programs make working from home a piece of cake. Apart from group chat programs and video conference apps, there are tools made for brainstorming, decision making, and planning overall. This can make connecting and coworking with colleagues just as easy as if you would have been at the office. These are some programs to check out: 

  • Conceptboard - create layouts, artworks, brainstorming maps, and other projects on a shared board. 
  • Acceptify - decision making made easier - a way to find solutions together as a team.
  • Idea flip - create an idea card that everyone in your team can share and contribute to. 
  • Bonusly - give your colleagues some recognition. With Bonusly you get an allowance that you spend by praising your co-workers! 
  • Lucid meetings - a video chat program where you can have your meetings with all that you need. 

4. Take breaks

Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you have to be working all the time. Just like you would in an office, you have to remember to take breaks. Many have an hour lunch break. But on top of that, you are also entitled to take a few minute-long breaks during the day. Use them wisely. For example, many might schedule a workout session during their lunch break. It can be a 30 min cardio session or a 40-minute yoga session. This will be beneficial for you: exercising has proven to reduce stress and help you stay productive at home. For your shorter breaks, make sure to get up and stretch, get some air or make a snack.

5. Maintain regular hours

When working from home, it is easy to get carried away by your tasks and forget about time. The fine line between the end of your workday and your free time begins can get a bit blurred since you spend all day at home. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you need to be able to shut off from work by the end of the day and set clear boundaries between what work time is and relaxing time is.

One way of doing this is to pick a finishing time each day. For example, if you were used to working from 8.00 to 17.00 in the office, you should continue to follow that schedule at home. Once the clock strikes five, you should wish your colleagues a nice evening and turn your computer off. Think of it as leaving the office and not having access to your work email or task anymore for that day.

Now, there will be days when you are caught up with tasks, or you’re in the middle of a big project, and suddenly it’s 17.30. In this situation, it is often recommended to finish the most immediate tasks and then call it a day. The next day you will come back well-rested with fresh eyes and maybe new ideas that can lead to great improvements.

4 Quick tips for working from home 

Keep as many of your former routines as you can.

- Did you use to make a lunch box from the dinner to bring to work? Did you get up at 7.00 every morning to take a shower? Keep as many of your routines as possible to remind yourself that you are still working. 

Find your productive zone

- No one is 100 % effective all the time. Your motivation will go up and down during the day. However, as long as you know yourself, you can use this to your advantage. Do you feel more productive during the earlier hours of the day? Make sure you finish the most demanding task of the day before lunch. Later in the afternoon, you might not be in the right headspace for it. However, focus always on one thing at a time. 

Make several playlists to get you through the week

- If you don't need complete silence to focus, having a great tune in the background could help you keep motivated. For some people, a lyric-free soundtrack or classical music is what gets them going, while others get their boost from rap, rock, or pop music. Whatever floats your boat. 

Find support in your colleagues 

- Remember that you and your colleagues are all in the same boat and that you will all have days when it feels impossible to focus and get things done. Nowadays, it is more important than ever to stay connected and be there for each other and offer support. And if you feel confused or don’t know how to tackle a task - ask for advice. Maybe something got lost in communication because of cultural differences, or you need clarification. It’s always better to ask twice and get it right than to have to do it all over again. 

man working remotely

Find a remote position

In the end, working from home has both pros and cons. For example, it can be eye-opening, as it saves both time and money for people who used to commute to an office. But with more freedom comes more responsibilities. You often have to be more disciplined, avoid distractions and be ready to plan your weeks far ahead. You also need to think about how to keep good communication with your colleagues.

If you are ready to take on the challenge, you can start by searching for a job where you can work remotely. Check out the available positions we have listed here at Workwide Recruit!