Whether your company is switching to a remote work policy or you find yourself staying at home for an extended period of time due to a new pandemic, the adjustment from working onsite to living and working under the same roof can be a major adjustment for some. At The Taproom, we’ve been working remotely since day 1, so we’re here to provide you with our best tips to be productive and maintain a work-life balance as best as possible in a rapidly changing work environment.
Be visible and active on communication platforms (e.g. Slack, Trello etc.)
The brilliant thing about being in an office with your coworkers is obviously being able to touch base really easily and chat through situations and tasks with each other. When you work remotely, it might feel like you’re cut off and that instant communication will become difficult. Thankfully with apps like Slack, you can still work efficiently with your coworkers.
The most important thing you can do is to be as active as possible when you’re working from home. Reply to threads, ask questions, give updates etc. Even adding emojis onto messages to let people know you’ve seen them can be invaluable in making sure good communication is maintained.
Designate and create a place to work
In order to get your brain into work mode, you need to have a space where you can work. It’s tempting to work from the sofa, but you’ll get more done if you have a space that feels like it’s for work. If you don’t have a computer desk in your home, then the kitchen table works just as well. Get your laptop, notebooks, stationery etc. that you’d normally use for work and lay it all out. This not only helps you focus on work, but it also creates a sense of having boundaries between your personal space and your work space. You know that at the end of the day, you can close it all up and put it away and you won’t find notes and bits of work all over your home.
Know when to call it a day
Those boundaries we just mentioned? They’re really important when you work from home. When you have a commute at the end of the day, that feels very definitive in your work life - it feels like a physical barrier between work time and personal time. But when you work from home, your work space is also your personal space and you’ve not got that period of time to get out of work mode. That means you need to decide on a finish time, and stick to it. Sure, there may be times when you work on to finish something important, but you need to make that the exception and not the rule. Set a time to finish, and put everything away. Once you have, get up away from your work material and do something for yourself like start cooking dinner, or watch a tv show, or read a book. That way your work and personal time feel very definitive.
Know that it’s okay to get distracted
There’s no point in pretending like you won’t get distracted by being at home. The more you work from home, the better you become at dealing with those distractions. Accepting that it’s an inevitability will help you feel less guilty when it does happen, so long as you deal with it in a positive way. For example, maybe your mind wanders and you suddenly think you’ve got laundry to sort - just go sort it! Or if you just feel restless, get up and go make a coffee or read a blog article etc. The 10 minutes it’ll take to deal with a distraction will help you refocus.
Structure your time like you would in an office
By this we mean simple things like when you’d take a coffee break, when you have your lunch etc. It helps to set up your day in a structured way, for example doing emails at 9am, taking calls in the afternoon, etc. When you don’t have to get up and leave the house, and then pack up and commute home, it can mess with your idea of structure. Plot your day out, and make sure when you take a break to get away from your laptop. After all, the best thing about working from home is you can go cook your lunch in your own kitchen, you could even watch Netflix on your couch for your break. (Just make sure you actually get back to work!)
Get up and get dressed!
It might sound a bit silly at first, but when you’re working from home there’s a very real temptation to just stay in bed in your pajamas and work from there. Now and again, it’s okay to do that but don’t make it a habit! Getting up early and getting dressed like you would if you were going into the office helps get your brain into work mode, making it much easier to focus and get things done. Try not to get straight into work from waking up, not only is it bad for your productivity but no one wants to immediately wake up and start working, right? Give yourself time to wake up, make some breakfast, chill out, then get into working.