With more people now working from home, you’ll be pleased to learn that there is evidence suggesting that we may actually get more done when working remotely. A Harvard Business Review study found that the quieter work environment contributed to home workers increasing their productivity, as well as taking fewer breaks and sick days. However, such benefits are, of course, not guaranteed and working from home can present a whole host of new challenges that can not only affect your productivity, but also your mental health and well-being, and that ever-important work/life balance.
Adopting good habits is key to successful remote working and ensuring that you maintain your productivity levels, as well as your sanity.
Routine, routine, routine
One of the most widely recommended good habits is creating a working routine and sticking to it. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your mind and body have become accustomed to the rhythms of your professional life. Simple things like setting an alarm to wake up, having your regular morning coffee and getting dressed for a working day can help to create a working mindset and prepare you for the day ahead.
These routines help us transition from our roles at home into the positions of our profession. Throw them off and the whole day can start out wrong. Be mindful of your daily schedule and hold it dear. The actions and activities that define your workday will, to some degree, define your success when working at home.
Leaving work at work
Routine is great and does bring structure to your working day. But make sure that ending the working day is part of that routine
Working from home means opening up a space and time that used to be closed off to colleagues. It’s important for your mental health and stamina, as well as your personal relationships, to set limits on how much of your job is allowed to extend into your home life. Many who regularly work from home tend to put in longer hours as they make up time that would otherwise spend on their commute. Unless your role demands a great deal of accessibility, do your best to maintain the same boundaries that exist in the office. As important as it is to ensure your productivity remains a high as it usually does, it is equally important to switch off.
One simple way to do this is to make it clear when your day is ending. Tell colleagues when you’re signing off and set your status accordingly. Once “home,” stay there. If the work can wait, it should.
Stay in touch
On a related note, maintain the availability and connections you have with colleagues. Check in with them regularly, like you would do if you were in the office. Make sure that your clients know how to reach you and ask the same of them. Keeping in contact matters most when the casual interactions of a shared work space are stripped away from you.
If you manage a team, consider establishing a regular stand-up meeting of 15-30 minutes to share updates and priorities. Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to communication but it’s important to establish new norms so that people know when and how to contact you just like they would in the office.
Focusing like never before
Of course, one potential benefit of remote working is that the distractions of the office can all but disappear. However, that’s not to say that distractions don’t exist at home.
Take advantage of the opportunity to focus if you can. Set up a good work space, limit your digital distractions, and if you need to, take a short break.
Getting good at technology
If you’re new to remote working, navigating the seemingly endless list of technology tools and features can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Look for the product support sections of websites and ask Google. You’ll be surprised at how much useful content is out there waiting to help.
Above all else, pay attention to your personal situation. As you work from home more, stay aware of any new habits you’re creating and make sure you’re doing right by your mind, body, and clients.
This post was created in response to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on tax and finance professionals. For more information to help support you and your business, visit our COVID-19 resource center.