Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Staying Productive while Working from Home

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

In order to be #BeSafe, we are advised to #StayHome, and we need to cooperate.  So, remote work has become the new normal for many employees during the Luzon Enhanced Community Quarantine.  At first, it may seem like a dream - no commute, no long lines at MRT, no heavy traffic, no distracting co-workers (hehe, although I miss the chitchats and tsismis with my colleagues), and think of all those chores you'll be able to sneak in!  But hey, our employers are still paying our salaries while we're at home, so it's just proper that we keep being productive, and keep meeting our work objectives.

I am lucky enough to be part of a company who cares about their employees' safety and well-being, so we have the flexibility to work from home, when needed .... so I am accustomed to the process (and the lifestyle).  To those that have not worked remotely before, let me share some tips.

1. Location. Location. Have a designated work space.

Not everyone has a study room or a home office, so try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot. Although it's tempting to stay in bed or head to your sofa or couch, those who successfully work from home agree that you're best off setting up a workstation. If possible, choose a seat that protects your back and neck.  If you don't have a desk, use your dining room table, as long as it's comfortable. Ensure also that there is enough lighting, air and space for your work tools. A dedicated workspace can make you feel like you're at an "office".  It helps create the right mood for work, and also helps you maintain good posture, avoid distractions, and leave your work behind at the end of the day.

Check HERE on how to set up your workstation to protect you from neck and back pains.

2. Set a schedule and stick to it.  

If you typically work from 8-5, keep doing it at home. Overworking can be a real issue, so clearly define what hours you will be working and stick to it.

3. Set Rules.

Set ground rules with other people in your home, or who you share your space with when you work. If you have children, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Explain the situation. It's a also good idea to talk to your kids about coronavirus, especially older ones who can better understand the impact it has on your day-to-day life.

4. Make a to-do list, stick to it, and track your progress.

Every morning, write down and update the tasks you want to work on, including the simple ones such as making calls and following up on issues with others.  At the end of your work routine, tick the tasks you’ve completed and transfer the undone tasks to the next day’s list. You’ll be able to achieve more when you’re tracking your progress.

5. Join virtual meetings, make your presence known, and Be Heard!

Certainly, you'll take part in virtual meetings, video conferences and conference calls, but it's also a good idea to attend optional meetings.  Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you're on the call. A simple, "Hello, everyone!" or "Thanks, everyone. Bye!" at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.

6. Overcommunicate

Communicate more than you should. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Ask when you need help, and offer help to someone who needs it.

7. Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself! Don’t become your own punishing boss!

Recognizing when to push through and when to let go and call off the workday is essential to knowing what is a reasonable new pace of productivity for you.  Make time in your day to take breaks. Make sure you take time for lunch and snacks.

7. Stay active, exercise, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

This is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health, as well. Moreover, working from home tends to lend itself to a sedentary lifestyle, not to mention the close proximity of the kitchen and refrigerator, making weight gain a problem.  Don't forget to schedule time for regular exercise, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and have quality sleep.

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