Working from Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic – 5 Ways to Maintain Productivity
The recent pandemic has completely restructured and realigned the way in which we live and work. Advancement in technology and shifts in organisational culture and value has meant that working from home has in more recent years become increasingly common and encouraged. However, for many, the sudden requirement to re-locate to a home office for an extended period will be a first-time experience and one that naturally brings its own challenges. Maintaining a calm, positive mindset and productive level of work can prove difficult when the outside world is going through turmoil and disruption. The following blog will provide 5 tips I have found useful to keep focused, productive and most importantly, positive during one of the most unprecedented times we have faced.
1) Allocate Yourself A ‘Workspace’
Whether you are living alone in a studio apartment, at home with 2 dogs and a family or sharing a house with friends, finding and creating your new workspace with as few distractions as possible is vital for maintaining routine and productivity.
Many of us are familiar with having clear distinctions between work and home life. This defined balance and physical separation means that we can disconnect and re-charge at the end of our working day. Having a designated workspace where you can ‘enter’ in the morning and ‘leave’ at the end of the day ensures that your mind is engaging and disengaging from the working day and keeping your personal life as separate as possible.
I have also found it helpful to work somewhere with close proximity to a window for fresh air, as well as an area with a door or some form of separation from the rest of the house, as it is a great way to signal to other members of your household that you are busy. Ultimately, this new area is where you will be spending the majority of your day so anything to make you feel comfortable is a must.
2) Turn off Notifications
Many of us will be wanting to keep updated with the current affairs and any breaking news. However, this can ultimately lead to distractions as well as stress and anxiety. Currently, the media is saturated with important guidance and information on the pandemic, however in addition to this, there can be stories written by journalists that spark increased confusion and concern.
Turning off notifications when you are completing a task or wanting to focus most, can help with productivity. In addition to this, ensuring that you have a trusted news source that you can refer to when you require information is important.
This suggestion not only applies to news apps, but also to apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc. wherein a home environment away from your team you may find it tempting to spend more time scrolling through the news feed. There are several apps on the App Store that help with smartphone distractions. One I find useful is called Focus To-Do: Focus Timer & Tasks. This app brings together the popular Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method designed to make you work in intervals of traditionally 25 minutes separated by short breaks, with a useful To-Do List option. By prioritising your work tasks on the To-Do list and utilising the timer, it’s a great way to really focus on the task at hand and in turn, improve productivity.
3) Slack, Call, Email, Zoom – Whatever it takes; COMMUNICATE!
This is an absolute must. Good relationships with team members and managers contribute significantly to job satisfaction, healthy work environments and productivity. Now we are remotely working, it’s more important than ever to find new ways to connect and stay in touch with your team, not only from a social perspective, but also to ensure that workflow and projects are running smoothly.
We are used to easy and effortless communication in the office, as quick as swinging around on the office chair or walking over to a colleague’s desk. Working from home can, therefore, feel relatively unstructured and isolating, making it even more vital to put a lot of emphasis on communicating with your team and actively making the effort to ask how they are doing and realign focus.
Something my team and I have made a conscious effort to do since the start of lockdown is a virtual ‘PPC Team Huddle’. Each morning, we set aside the time to video call on Microsoft Teams to check in with everyone, the on-going work, what happened the previous day and what is upcoming. At times when you feel as though you are losing touch with your teammates, this can prove extremely useful and reassuring. Additionally, it helps everyone concentrate on the outstanding tasks and can set a clear focus for the day, increasing productivity.
4) Keep Up a Routine
This may seem blatantly obvious, however, maintaining some form of routine working from home will help keep things as normal as possible, as well as keep you motivated and productive throughout the day.
Despite many of us having much more flexibility with our schedules, maintaining some form of consistency can help your body and mind adjust accordingly, regulate any underlying feelings of stress and put you into the right mindset for the working day. It also helps with defining that distinction between work and personal life.
Your commute from home to the office not only gets you to a physical location but also into the right frame of mind. The time commuting in the mornings and evenings helps your mind ease into work preparing you for the day to come or allows you to switch off when the day has come to an end. Take the time in the morning to do what you would usually; eat breakfast in the kitchen, listen to music away from your designated workspace, meditate, exercise, whatever it may be to help wake you up and feel ready and energised for the workday. This routine will in turn, help you feel less anxious and more focused so that your day can be productive.
5) Take Regular Breaks
Actively take time throughout your working day to get up, move, rehydrate away from the screen. It’s human to get distracted and there will always be distractions. After speaking to Briony Gunson who works at
during a very insightful session on “Helpful Habits – Focus, Productivity and Wellbeing”, I learnt that we lose attention 6-10 times per minute! By acknowledging that our minds need to take a couple minutes to re-focus is okay and important for maintaining productivity levels.
Hopefully these 5 tips can help you maintain productivity levels during these very uncertain times. It would be great to hear any other tips and suggestions, so if you would like to leave a comment below please don’t hesitate to do so!