In many ways the modern work environment bears little resemblance to one of only a few decades ago. Modern knowledge workers are increasingly required to work in a flexible environment and this often means working from home. Unfortunately, although many people might enjoy working from home they lose productivity due to the many distractions and the lack of a structured work environment.
We’ve identified three activities that you need to perform to ensure you maintain your productivity when working from home.
Organize your work
The home work environment is full of distractions . . . it’s called your life. To ensure you’re effective you’ll need to determine what you should be working on and when.
- Prioritize your tasks. Make sure you’re focused on completing the tasks that need to be completed first. Set targets to ensure you’re working towards a goal and getting the amount of work done that is expected.
- Plan your whole day. You might have a number of phone calls already scheduled but if you plan to run an errand or go to the gym or even vacuum the house, then put that onto the schedule as well.
- Schedule breaks. When you’re free from office interruptions it is amazing how exhausting working from home can be. Therefore, it’s important to plan breaks to maintain performance. You can also use this time to free up your mind to solve problems or generate new ideas.
- Schedule collaboration. One of the benefits of working in an office is collaboration with your co-workers. This not only engages us socially but can also be a great forum for discussion and joint problem solving. To be effective from the home environment you will need to proactively schedule these discussions with your peers.
Maintain a routine
One of the main benefits of the traditional work environment is that it provided structure . . . and this structure led to workers being more productive. To be effective at home you need to provide similar structure (albeit one that aligns with your work habits) through a routine.
- Consider maintaining ‘standard’ working times. For some people it’s effective to define a set start and end point to the day.
- Get yourself into the mindset of work by starting the day off right: maybe get out of bed at the same time as an office work day, or shower & dress as if heading off to work, even prepare & pack your lunch if you think it will help.
- Maintain your exercise schedule and ensure you eat meals at the appropriate time for you.
- Know thyself. Develop your routine around when you are most effective. For some people this might be early in the morning, for others it might be at midnight. Regardless, schedule tasks accordingly.
Setup your work location
One of the major downsides to working at home can be the limited facilities available . . . not everyone can have a dedicated home office setup. However, you can take steps to provide an environment that enables you to be effective.
- Clean up. Once you’ve identified where you’re going to work remove clutter and tidy up before you start work. This will give you a clear place to work and remove unnecessary distractions.
- Ensure the work area is comfortable. Setup the work location to minimize the risk of neck and back strain due to poor posture and ensure you have the appropriate lighting for the work you’re going to undertake.
- Create the right ambiance for you. This might mean listening to music but make sure that it makes you more productive and you’re not doing it because that’s what you always do when you’re at home. For some it can be an unwanted (albeit pleasant) distraction.
- Find the right place for you. If you don’t have a suitable environment to work in then maybe you should leave the house. Maybe try other locations such as a coffee shop or library.
The Intellilink Team