The success of various IT departments’ remote work rollouts shouldn’t simply rest on the shoulders of IT: it’s a company-wide issue, so everyone from CIOs to remote worker staff should put effort into ensuring that employees are working efficiently and as happily as possible from home.
With months before a full-scale vaccine rollout and with some organizations realizing how successful remote work can be, now is a good time to reassess the state of your company’s approach to the “new normal” of work.
Mike Sharp, Chief Product Officer, LogMeIn, has listened to his customers’ concerns over the past year and has generated the following work from home tips for 2021.
So whether you’re in IT and could use these helpful reminders for yourself — or you feel you should share these with your coworkers — we hope these work from home tips will serve you well in 2021.
1. Erect barriers between rooms to establish privacy and space away from housemates (or kids!)
Despite being one year into remote work, a lot of home office conditions are less than desirable when it comes to issues of privacy and productivity, Sharp says.
“Limited by available space or roommates, a lot of workers don’t even have a dedicated office set up in their homes and instead have gotten creative with makeshift workspaces in living rooms, bedrooms or wherever there is free space.
“One helpful way to create a sense of privacy is by simply erecting some form of a barrier that defines your workspace for those around you.”
That can be a wall, a shelf, even a curtain… use whatever resources are available and convenient. In addition to limiting distractions, these barriers can also serve as a “do not disturb” symbol for any housemates and family members that are living or working in the same space, helping you avoid distractions and remain productive during the workday.
2. Maintain a consistent schedule to your days throughout the week and weekends
Having a consistent schedule allows you to maintain more control over your time and where you are putting your energy. This is extremely important in the current work from home era.
Without a morning or evening commute, or a separate office environment to break up our working hours, burnout from overworked employees is a real risk.
With a consistent schedule, you can plan out your time accordingly for work, family, and personal care. Especially during stressful times, having a predictable routine can ease some anxieties and help you feel more productive.
The benefit to this new way of working is your consistent schedule doesn’t have to be 9-5. With more of us working remote coupled with a globally dispersed workforce, there is less of an expectation to be online from 9-5 every day.
Build your schedule to fit your life and the way your work best.
3. Consider adopting a dog or other pet as a companion – plants can help too
There’s no better time to become a pet owner now that we’re at home all day. While this is a major personal decision to make, it can have extremely positive benefits for both your mental and physical health.
The CDC cites that pets can help decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels because they provide more opportunities to get exercise and move while providing the positive mental health benefits from companionship.
For many apartment dwellers or those not ready to take the leap into pet parenthood, plants are also a great option to liven up your living space.
In addition to providing some color in your workspace, certain types of plants can provide health benefits including improved air quality and reduced stress. One study from the University of Hyogo in Awaji, Japan, found that workers’ anxiety decreased significantly when plants were added to their workspace.
4. Prep meals and handle housework on the weekends
Weekday schedules can get crazy, especially if you have to factor in family and pets, in addition to your own tasks and household chores.
At the end of a long day, it’s hard to have the energy to go grocery shopping, plan out a meal, cook, and then clean. This can seem daunting and often leads us to make unhealthy choices like ordering delivery or takeout. That’s perfectly fine on occasion, but it can take a toll on your health and wallet if that behavior becomes too frequent.
While sometimes all we want to do is relax on weekends, committing some time to productive activities like household chores and meal prep can lead to healthier choices and decreased stress levels during the rest of the week when you might have less time.
“In fact, I find that when I dedicate just an hour or two to a productive chore during the weekend, I feel better and more energized the rest of the day,” Sharp says.
5. Set timers to keep yourself accountable on getting work done quickly and avoiding perfectionism and overtime
Time blocking can be one of the most helpful things when it comes to keeping yourself accountable and staying on track with deadlines, Sharp says.
The idea is to dedicate a reasonable block of time during which you remain focused on a single task, and afterwards can enjoy a short break to mentally reset and prepare for the next task. For all types of work styles, from procrastinators to perfectionists, this habit can lead to an array of positive benefits and improve overall productivity.
For procrastinators, time blocking can help increase motivation and set up a rewards system – if you work on a project for an hour, you can reward yourself with a walk outside or watching a video online.
If you’re a perfectionist and tend to pick things apart, this habit could help you remain cognizant of how much time you’ve spent on a task and set limits so you can prevent this behavior from becoming detrimental.
6. Allocate quiet time where you ignore chats, emails and comms
At one time or another, we’ve all had days where it feels like we hop from meeting to meeting and never have enough time for the projects and priorities we actually need to work on. Add in the constant onslaught of chats and emails and it’s hard to get even a moment to yourself.
Setting “quiet time” where you turn off these notifications and focus on one task is important for taking back ownership of your schedule and increasing your autonomy. This can result in higher quality work and prevent you from spreading yourself too thin.
7. Move and diversify your work environment periodically – just changing rooms or getting some fresh air can make a big difference
Changing your environment every once in a while has been proven to improve creativity and productivity.
Even something as simple as moving from the desk in your living room to your dining room table can have huge benefits for your mental wellbeing. If time and meetings allow, move while meeting.
“I’m someone that likes to move while meeting,” Sharp says.
“Don’t be afraid to turn off your camera and walk. This might be simply pacing around the room or walking on treadmill or if it’s nice out, take your work outside for a bit! Staying in one static location for too long can be monotonous and cause creative blocks.”