As a large number of workers have been forced to embrace working from home over the last two and a half years, both how we work and the spaces in which we work have undoubtedly become more flexible. Most of us have, to a greater or lesser degree, customised our work spaces – chique retro desks, fairy lights, potted plants, double (or even triple!) screens or with a stand up desk, the customisation opportunities of work spaces are endless. But how many of us have actively calibrated our new found makeshift workspaces in order to maximise our productivity?
This question on its face seems a strange one, almost an oxymoron if you will indulge me for a second. For most of us, our homes were never meant to become our work spaces. This new found cross pollination between our work and home lives, this fusion of what were once two undeniably distinct and separate domains, has broken down the barriers of where work ends and our regular lives begin. With this new normal have come several benefits and pitfalls for many office workers.
Many of us – and I will hold my hand up here too – are guilty of taking multi-tasking to the extreme while working from home, and I’m not talking about efficiently completing several work tasks at once. Completing household chores, streaming a show or podcast for “background noise,” popping out to the shop for “a minute,” show me someone who has not committed any of these heinous acts over the last two and a half years and I will show you a liar!
Fear not remote workers, I am here to guide you back to the land of productivity, so much so that you will be able to fully attribute your next raise, bonus or positive annual review directly back to this article!
- Keep a Morning Routine
The problem for most of us is that we roll out of bed at the last possible moment, bleary eyed and unwashed, and crash straight in front of the laptop. While the advent of the age without a commute has been nothing short of a godsend for most, it has blurred the lines entirely between our home and work lives. Those carefully worn lines of demarcation between leisure and work – morning exercise, a hot shower, grabbing a coffee on the way to the train – have all but evaporated for many of us.
While initially the novelty of being able to commence work each morning wrapped in a duvet while sipping from our favourite mug was, for most of us, nothing short of a fantasy crafted from the writers of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the reality is that this has led to many newly remote workers struggling to jump into the day with the same enthusiasm they previously did.
In order to assist with the transition from leisure to work, it may be useful to keep a consistent morning routine which clearly signals the beginning of the work day. Simple tasks such as leaving the house and grabbing a coffee at a local café before work, maintaining a morning exercise regime or simply going for a fresh morning stroll, and ensuring you are showered and dressed before your 9am meeting can go a long way to prepare the mind for the work day ahead!
- Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Without the watchful eye of colleagues and management, it can be easy to become distracted regularly, especially when waiting on responses from others or for IT issues to be resolved. Many of us have fallen into bad habits that we would never have dreamed of engaging in while present in the office.
Simple solutions like placing a phone on airplane mode or do not disturb, leaving the phone to charge in another room, or listening to white noise or soothing background music to drown out the humdrum sounds of daily life can greatly increase focus. Additionally, creating small personal incentives to complete tasks, such as taking a 15 minute coffee break on completion may provide an incentive to keep focused in the moment.
- Maintain a Healthy and Balanced Workspace
When the majority of us moved to remote working, neither we nor our employers were ready for such a sudden change. Anecdotes of people working from kitchen tables, cluttered box rooms and other unsuitable work spaces were commonplace. However, since those nascent days of the Pandemic, many solutions have become available to assist with making remote work more palatable, and dare I say, even enjoyable.
Ergonomic, functional and stylish furniture which can cleverly fit into tight corners of cramped flats is now widely available, and many employers are providing budgets which will cover these costs. If you have a large budget, you can also get a prefabricated ADU.
Additionally, it is vital for us remote workers to ensure that all IT hardware and software is up to scratch to meet our needs. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to complete tasks on a small screen or a slow laptop. If employers expect a seamless transition from office life to remote working, then they must provide adequate IT!
While the remote working adventure may be ending for some as employers slowly encourage workers to once again re-enter office spaces, for many of us this arrangement will likely be with us in some form or another for the remainder of our careers. That is why it is so important to maintain healthy habits and routines to keep focused and motivated.