Workplace culture needed to change, and organizations and workers around the world had to learn how to stay at the same level of productivity while working from home.
One big misconception people have is that working from home necessarily means that employees are going to be less productive. According to the Airtasker study, remote workers "worked 1.4 more days every month or 16.8 more days every year than people who worked in an office.”
But on the other hand, it’s important to mention that researchers also found that working from home can be more stressful than working at the office. Around 29% of remote working respondents said they noticed signs of work-life imbalances. Only 23% of office workers mentioned the same problem. One likely reason for this imbalance could be that those looking after kids are faced with extra pressures – having to take on more unpaid care work because of changeable nursery and school arrangements.
In the initial phase to shift to remote work, people had to focus on immediate problems – how to work without the right desk, how to get a laptop at the right height, and how to communicate effectively with each other online. These short-term problems may now be resolved, but it’s taken longer to think about the more complex issue and that is work productivity.
To help you stay concentrated and well organized during this remote working phase while fighting stress and trying to stay efficient, here are some tips to help you out.
Sleep hygiene - Bed is not an alternative for an office
So, first thing’s first: sit up straight, eat some breakfast and get out of the bed. The temptation of working from bed is strong but you really shouldn’t turn your mattress into your office. There are both physical and psychological consequences if you spend most of your time working in bed.
According to a study done in November 2020, 72% of 1,000 Americans said they had worked remotely from their bed since the pandemic started (a 50% increase since the pandemic started).
One in ten said they spent most of their time, 20-40 hours or more working in bed. Younger workers are more likely to choose this option. A good example of that is the fact that in the UK, workers aged 18-34 are less likely to have a proper desk and are twice as likely to choose to work from bed.
Sleep hygiene is important, so that means you should start developing good sleep habits. Follow a bedtime routine, try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, and most importantly keep your bed reserved for only bed-related activities. If you keep working in bed, you're going to have a higher likelihood of being awake due to feelings of stress and anxiety, because you’re brain and body will stop associating bed with rest.
Take breaks - ”Pomodoro” Technique
It is easy to forget that you need a break when you are under pressure to meet the deadline. If you’re feeling drained or frustrated with work, get up from your desk, walk around your neighborhood, call a friend, grab a healthy snack, etc. Just move away from your computer and stop trying to get everything done at once. Make time work with you with Pomodoro Technique. It’s very simple, and it consists of 5 simple steps:
1. Pick a task you want to work on.
2. Devote 25 minutes to it.
3. Once the time is up put a checkmark on a sheet of paper.
4. Take a 5 min break (this marks the completion of one "Pomodoro").
5. Take a longer break after every 4 Pomodoros.
So “Pomodoro” is 25 minutes long, and you need to take a 3–5-minute break in between. Breaks are the key components of this technique. Even though it may seem tempting to skip taking a break when you're in the zone, they are super important to reduce your mental fatigue in the long run.
Organize your workday - Stick to your schedule
You need to pay more attention to your daily schedule and try giving it more structure if you're working by yourself. Although it may seem satisfying that your working hours are more fluid than usual, following a routine will help you feel more efficient. If you used to come to the office at 9 a.m., then you shouldn’t change this habit. If you want to maintain the same productivity level, don’t get sidetracked from your usual work schedule. Make your life easier with simple planning and try to sketch out a list of important tasks for tomorrow in the evening, then analyze it in the morning while you're enjoying your favorite coffee. The Airtasker survey showed that 30% of remote employees said that keeping a to-do list helped their productivity.
Pinpoint your distractions - Focus is the key
Phone calls, social media notifications, Netflix, the list of potential distractions is never-ending. According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners say they check their phone a few times an hour. A good way to prevent yourself from looking at your phone every other minute is to turn off all unnecessary notifications during working hours. The same goes for your computer if you’re using social media on your work desktop.
If you’re having trouble maintaining your focus while working, try playing some background music. Check out an AI-driven music app Brain.fm designed to help people concentrate.
The most important thing is to identify your major distractions. For example, if you know you’ll get distracted with the mess you made the night before in your kitchen, take time to clean it up before you start working.
If you never worked remotely before, chances are you're not going to nail it from the beginning. It takes time to learn how to manage your time, find the perfect working spot, and learn how to separate your work life from your private life while you’re in the same space all day.
Don’t blame yourself if you are not in love with remote work as all digital nomads on social networks. Focus on small tasks and try to identify how much work you complete every day. It’s like with anything in life, the more you do it the better you become.