Laura Iñiguez, Content Manager at Hirebook
Laura is a content and social media strategist with deep experience in Employee Engagement, People Management, and Culture. She works with Hirebook to bring their innovative best practices to life through content, videos, and webinars seen by thousands around the globe.
Pub: November 3 2020
Upd: January 23 2023
If your search brought you here you’re probably worried because you’re not feeling productive enough working at home. If your company is adopting a hybrid or a remote model of working and you’re not quite sure that’s a good fit for you and you don’t feel like you’re gonna do your best... fear no more, we’re here to help you discover how to be productive at home!
At the beginning of this pandemic, your company probably sent everyone home, including you, and you probably thought that was the greatest thing that could’ve happened, you know, without considering the virus attacking everyone. Working from the comfort of your living room, making flexible work arrangements, not wasting time commuting to and from your office, not even removing your pajama bottoms, and still getting paid and developing your career sounded like a dream. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
Well, turns out that after several months of remote work, you probably find yourself thinking you were way more productive working at the office and you’re wondering how to feel productive while still working at home. These days you wake up just a couple of minutes before opening your laptop, you may splash your face a little, put on a hoodie, and just get comfortable before spending what feels like hours just staring at your computer with your mind blank. You sometimes join a couple of videoconferences, try to pay attention, try to look alive, and move on with your day. If you get a couple of tasks done you applaud yourself because, hey! you got something done.
Procrastination comes in many forms. Sometimes you watch a couple of episodes of your favorite series or a couple of funny videos, and sometimes you decide you need to clean up the kitchen or do some laundry, maybe your clothes need to be reorganized, whatever it is, even if you’re actually “doing something”, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing and therefore you’re procrastinating.
Now that a lot of companies are transitioning towards a hybrid office and keeping a lot of employees working remotely, some of these remote workers might feel concerned about their productivity because this is no longer a temporary fix, they could find themselves remote working for at least most of the week, in some cases, it could be forever.
Some people have been working from home for years now, mixing it perfectly with their personal life; if they can do it, so can you. You just need a couple of tips on how to have a productive day:
Set up a Morning Routine
Yes, waking up a few minutes prior to opening your laptop sounds appealing but this is just hurting your employee productivity. You’re not giving your body enough time to literally wake up. Your body and mind were accustomed to a proper sleep schedule, waking up early, showering, getting dressed, and being ready to hit the road towards the office, that’s what they associate with “working”. Eliminating the whole routine makes an impact on your brain, it still does not recognize that just getting out of bed is enough to start a working day. Also, our brain associates our home as a “resting place”, when shifting to remote work, you need to provide your brain and body with at least a little of your old routine so they can start programming themselves for a working day.
You’re already saving precious time by not commuting, maybe you could squeeze in a regular exercise in the morning as part of your self-care routine. Working out provides a lot of benefits and you know you always said “you didn’t have time to work out”, well now you do! Take advantage of it, and let it be the start of your day. After that, you may continue with your regular work schedules and get out of your pajamas and slip into at least casual wear so your body knows there’s a workday ahead.
Part of your morning routine should include a balanced breakfast, provide your body with energy to keep your mind sharp during the day.
Prepare Your Space
Like we said, your brain associates your home as a resting place, a place where your corporate job has never entered. When you work from home, you need to have a designated space to do said work. Even though working in the living room is tempting and comfortable, it will only affect your concentration and productivity. Even worse if you decide to work a couple of hours in your bedroom, you’re just sending mixed signals to your brain about where to do such different things.
Designate a proper space to do your job, set up your desk with the supplies you need to perform it successfully, it doesn’t have to be a whole room, just find an appropriate space in your home where you know you’ll avoid or at least limit distractions. Find a space that you’ll only use for your job, so your brain can reprogram itself and you’ll feel like you’re keeping things separated once again. It is not good for your emotional and mental health to feel like your whole home is also your place of work, you’ll just feel like you have to work all of the time, which brings us to our next tip:
Don't Check Notifications Before Starting Working
When we wake up we usually check our phones to catch up on what we missed during the night (did we really miss that much, though?). But our phones also contain our work integrations, apps, and accounts… so when we check our notifications in the morning we are tempted to check those messages our managers and/or colleagues sent to us, it’s just a normal modern age urge. The problem is, when you do this first thing in the morning you’re just impacting your mental health by worrying yourself with things you most likely won’t fix or have the answer to at that precise moment, so you’ll kick your morning routine with a bunch of preoccupation that will last until you can attend that matter and that won’t do anyone any good.
This is especially difficult when having remote colleagues and managers working in different time zones than ours because their working hours do not match ours, but it is important to respect the different shifts everyone works in. If something is urgent, rest assured that they’ll call to resolve that matter, everything else can just wait until it’s your time to start working.
Set Up Goals for the Day
Research has shown that having concrete work to do and goals to achieve increases confidence and a sense of having everything under control. Set realistic goals to achieve during the day, so that when you start working on them you put yourself in motion towards having a productive day. It’s important to set minor and major objectives, when you complete minor objectives and see you're making progress you boost productivity and get motivated to complete those major ones. Organize them in a way that will work for you to keep your motivation on the rise; like maybe a couple of minor ones followed by a major one, or one minor and one major. Whatever works for you to maintain motivation and excitement towards completing your tasks.
Do One Thing at a Time and Take Breaks
When setting up your goals for the day, set a time frame to complete your tasks, and focus on them until you’re done. Make sure you take breaks during the day. Although a lot of research has shown that remote working people take more and larger breaks, this has also proven effective and has shown that larger breaks increase productivity. Some remote workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique:
- Choose a task
- Set a timer to work on said task for 25 minutes
- When the timer rings, put a check on a piece of paper
- Take a 5-minute break (this counts as “one pomodoro”)
- Every time you reach 4 pomodoros, take a longer break (15-30 minutes)
- Repeat during the rest of the workday
It could be tempting to skip a break when you feel you’re on fire completing your tasks, but if you do you’ll just increase your stress levels and eventually burn out and your productivity will slow down, which will decrease your chances of completing the rest of your objectives.
When you take your breaks, don’t just stare at your phone or check other personal notifications, you can also just take a walk around the house, grab a snack, call a friend, you could even do some chores if you feel like it, the list goes on and on, just make sure your break has a scheduled time and get back to work.
This could be hard when working at home; there’s noise coming from the street, maybe you have children at home making a tantrum, family members asking you for stuff, your neighbors could have loud music… there are things we cannot control, but those we can control we should.
Put your phone in silent mode, try to have your office space located somewhere it won’t tempt you to address your attention somewhere else. You could even move to another location depending on what your objectives of the day are, a coffee house, a library, or even a quiet park.
Do Not Forget Face-TimeWorking remotely means that sometimes we miss the camaraderie, and believe it or not, losing this kind of social contact takes a toll on productivity. We no longer have social interactions with our colleagues and only talk to them about work-related things through email, messages, or online meetings.
Set social channels on Slack, or create a book club and meet weekly to discuss the book of the week, even if the meeting happens virtually. Connecting with your colleagues can happen even during pandemic times or if you’re located somewhere else and can’t physically meet with them. It is important to get to know each other and do activities that’ll help you connect on a deeper level. You could even schedule calls and share a meal over video. Little activities like these will also help with the team’s productivity and will build trust among employees.
According to statistics, 63% of employees are more productive working from home. We know that learning how to be productive at home as remote workers can be a challenging task, especially when doing it for the first time, but we hope that these tips can help you to make the most out of your day and feel satisfied with your performance!
Also, check out our “Career Advancement Opportunities: How to Further My Career while Working Remotely” to get some more info on how to develop your career even when working remotely.