The coronavirus pandemic has spurred a lot of changes, and not all of them are negative. More people are working from home than ever, and 98% of surveyed workers say they would like the option to keep doing so for their whole career. Since remote work may be here to stay, you may want to know how to do it better.
Working from home comes with plenty of benefits, but it’s not without its challenges. Staying motivated and efficient is one of the leading struggles remote workers experience, but it’s not unavoidable. With the right tools and techniques, you can be just as productive, if not more so, when you’re at home as when you’re at the office.
With that in mind, here are seven ways you can work more efficiently from home.
1. Communicate as much as possible
Communication is one of the most crucial things when staying productive. It also happens to be one of the first things people slip up with when working from home. To help you stay on task and keep informed, you should talk with your coworkers or employees as often as possible.
When you’re working from home, you can’t exactly lean over your cubicle to ask a question. Instead, you need to resort to digital communication like email, phone calls and videoconferencing. If you don’t have any of these systems set up ready, you should go ahead and do so.
You may consider investing in team communication software like Slack or Dropbox. Tools like these help your team stay organized and in-the-know. If you’re not in charge of investments like that, talk to your manager about the benefits.
2. Video chat with team members
As you keep talking with your team, remember that not all communication software is created equal. Instant messaging and email tools are excellent for going over small bits of info quickly. If these are your only means of communication, however, you may find it difficult to stay productive.
Face-to-face interaction combats isolation and increases understanding, so use video as much as possible. You have plenty of videoconferencing tools available to you today, like Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts. Take advantage of these solutions and talk face-to-face with your coworkers.
Video helps you pick up on nonverbal cues that would be absent in text or audio-only communication. If you have important things to discuss, it’s best to do so over video.
3. Use collaborative software
When you’re at the office, you may work entirely on offline software like Word or Excel. If you only use offline document processors when “going remote,” collaboration may take more time and feel impersonal. When you don’t feel like you’re working together as a team, you may have trouble staying motivated.
It may be worth turning to the online versions of these programs instead to make collaboration easier. You could use cloud services like Microsoft OneDrive or Google Docs to give everyone quick access and straightforward collaborative tools. That way, you remove barriers to working together and help everyone stay motivated.
4. Boost your internet connection
At home, you may not have as fast an internet connection as you had in the office. That can be a problem for productivity if you encounter enough issues with it. If you keep struggling with slow speeds or dropped connections, it’ll be challenging to stay focused.
You may have multiple people on the same network, which can harm your connection and your productivity. Thankfully, you can avoid these problems by using some new tech in your Wi-Fi network. The most straightforward fix would be to get a newer, faster router to make sure you get the speeds you pay for.
If you have a weaker signal in some parts of your house, consider getting a range extender. Alternatively, you could use an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi, which tends to be more reliable.
5. Reduce distractions
One of the biggest barriers to productivity in remote work is all the new distractions. Your home is full of things that could take your attention away from your work. If you want to be more efficient, you’ll need some help removing and reducing these distractions.
Distractions like your phone or social media may be more tempting with no one around you. For these, you can find plenty of website blockers like Freedom or StayFocusd for both your phone and computer. These apps and extensions restrict your access to sites like Facebook during work hours.
For physical distractions like noise, you can use gadgets and appliances like white noise machines. You could also use lightbulbs with softer lighting to remove any distractions that harsh light might bring.
6. Use timers to stick to a schedule
Many remote workers appreciate the flexible hours that working from home gives them. This can be a double-edged sword, though, as you may have trouble staying focused with this flexibility. You spend between 15 and 20% of your time drifting off in thought. Without a schedule, staying on-task is challenging.
You could use the Pomodoro technique to help you stay productive. This approach involves working for 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between each period of work. To make sure you stick to these guidelines, you can turn to timer apps on your phone or computer.
The timer app that comes with your phone is an excellent and readily available resource for this process. If you want some more help, you can find a variety of other timers and schedules, including some built specifically with Pomodoro in mind.
7. Use ergonomic equipment
You probably won’t be able to focus if you’re uncomfortable. If you want to boost your remote work efficiency, consider getting some more ergonomic furniture and gadgets. When you can work comfortably, you can work at your best.
The first thing you can give the ergonomic treatment is your chair, but it’s not the only thing. You may also want to get a new mouse and keyboard, especially if you find your fingers hurting after a day of work. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of ergonomic computer accessories on the market.
Remote work doesn’t have to mean less productivity
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can’t be as efficient as you were in the office. With the right approach and some helpful tools, you can reach even higher levels of efficiency. Equip yourself with the right software and gadgets, and your remote work productivity will reach new heights.