For company leaders, keeping employees happy and engaged is a top priority. That’s why many businesses offer perks with the hope of boosting staff retention. In the past few years, these benefits have included standing desks, free food in the office kitchen, monthly team outings and unlimited vacation days, just to name a few.
But one perk that many employees are most interested in is the ability to work remotely. In fact, according to a study by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 3.7 million people work from home approximately half of the time. Additionally, between 80 and 90 percent of those surveyed stated they would want the option from their employer to log in remotely at least two to three days per week.
There is something to be said, however, for going into the office. Being surrounded by coworkers and having quick access to people and materials you need certainly helps with productivity. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be just as productive when working from home.
Some days, you just feel like staying in your pajamas, avoiding the commute and getting work done from home. Or, if you’re like me, you travel far for the holidays, so having the flexibility to log on remotely is a huge advantage when I want to elude the craziest travel days. Below are some tips and tricks for staying productive and on top of your work when you’re logged in remotely.
1. Construct a workspace
Sure, your bed or couch looks mighty comfy, but you run the risk of getting too relaxed and dozing off if you’re seated in a cozy spot. Instead, create a workspace that allows you to stay concentrated and minimizes distractions. If you don’t already have a dedicated workspace at home, a dining room table is a perfect alternative – you’ll have plenty of space to spread out your work materials, and this setup is one that best mimics your office desk.
2. Plan out your daily workload
Much like you would when you’re working in the office, create your daily workload when logging in from home. Write down a to-do list or go over your meetings in your calendar. You can even schedule a designated time for each task throughout the day to ensure you stay on top of everything and get all of your responsibilities completed. Also, check off each assignment once you’re finished – this will show you how much you’ve accomplished and can even motivate you to keep going.
3. Always be online
When you’re in the office, you’re (mostly) always available. When you’re working from home, that’s not always the case. To ensure that coworkers and supervisors can reach you at any time, always be signed into to email and any messaging services your company uses. In addition, make it a habit to regularly check your email when remote – staying on top of communication is the best way to prevent any fires from popping up.
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean there’s a lag in communication times – just be smart about it. If you know you’ll be away from your workstation for more than a few minutes, consider setting an away message that includes your phone number. Giving colleagues a way to get in touch in case of any urgent issues is a great way to build trust, and it shows you’re responsible when logging in from home.
4. Schedule designated breaks
Remember when I said to plan out your workload to help get you on track for the day? That means scheduling in time for breaks as well. Working for several hours straight will not do anything to help your productivity and it will only lead to burnout. Be sure to take breaks throughout the day – go for a quick walk (or a much-needed caffeine run), grab the mail or raid the fridge for a snack.
There’s no perfect length of time for a break, but TheMuse.com offered some tips for break time. Citing research from DeskTime, the source said that for every 52 minutes spent working, you should take a 17-minute break. This will allow you to recharge and clear your head, and then you can dive right back into your tasks and get everything done.
5. Play music (or your background noise of choice)
In most offices these days, you usually see employees at their desks with headphones on listening to music while getting their work done. And even though you are logging in from home, playing music or lighter background noise can help you stay productive. The plus side to listening to music at home? No headphones required! You can play the music straight from your speakers and even sing along (if you don’t mind the neighbors hearing).
While you may want to listen to your favorite type of music, consider cranking up the happier tunes: A study by researchers at Cornell University and Nanyang Technological University found that more upbeat music led to higher rates of productivity. The study used songs like “Walking on Sunshine” and the theme song from Happy Days, so maybe create a playlist of songs that make you smile to get your productive juices flowing.
6. Head to a local coffee shop or library
Maybe your neighbors are doing construction and you can’t take the incessant noise of hammers and saws. Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by all of the chores you need to do around the house. Or maybe your bed is calling your name at two in the afternoon. Whatever the distraction, go to a local coffee shop or library to escape it and get work done. Many of these establishments offer free or cheap Wi-Fi, and you can even grab a coffee or a treat to boost your productivity even further.
7. Sign off at the end of the day
Just because you worked from home doesn’t mean the work should keep going once office hours are over. Sign off from your email at the end of the business day and put away your work materials. This will ensure that your tasks and responsibilities stay within working hours and don’t interfere with your personal time, which will lead to a better work-life balance.
Productivity doesn’t have to fall to the wayside when you work remotely. By carefully planning out your day, minimizing distractions and staying in communication with those in the office, you can get all of your work done all the while wearing your comfortable PJs!