How to really maximise your time when working from home

From 22nd September, the government advised that to help contain Covid-19, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the coming months. For those of us who had just started to ease back to the office in some form or other we now have to acknowledge that there will be working restrictions in place, certainly for the next 6 months or so.

The shock and adjustment of working from home that was sprung on us back in March has now somewhat alleviated, and we’ve better found our rhythm over the summer months. I don’t think anyone still envisages the home worker as a skiver in pyjamas enjoying a ‘rest’ day from their daily commute anymore! All the same, just because you can lounge around at home does not actually mean that you should. Getting up, having a shower and dressing for work sets you up for a meaningful working day at home. Most of us have managed to settle into a much more productive routine, all the while enjoying some of the perks of not having to actually be physically in an office.

Have a separate workspace
Your workspace does not have to mean a specific office within the home which for many of us is just not feasible. However, having an area where you can mentally prepare for work and that others in the household recognise as a designated area where you are going to be, will help you enormously. Ideally this should not be your bedroom or a room you associate with relaxing in, because it needs to be somewhere that will enable you to focus on work. It might mean moving yourself to an area of a room where there are fewer distractions and sitting in an upright chair, or it could actually be sitting on the sofa with your laptop – it just needs to be somewhere conducive to getting work done.

Set up a routine
One of the major issues with remote working is that we have made ourselves completely accessible all the time. We are much more likely to check our emails, or finish off a piece of work, when we really should be switched off from the ‘office’ and enjoying our home life. To help with this it is so important to try to work regular hours, starting at the same time each day with scheduled breaks. Make sure you use these breaks to get away from your work and go and have a cup of tea, grab some lunch or breathe some fresh air.

Try to finish at a reasonable time, although this does depend on your workload and other commitments. Unlike leaving an office which provides clearer boundaries to the workday, when working from home it is vital to switch off fully for the evening and allow yourself time to relax and spend some quality time with your loved ones. Answering emails late at night does not look especially professional – leave them for the morning when you are rested and ready to face a new working day.

Communication is key to working from home. It is essential to know exactly what is expected from you and your work day-to-day. Working remotely can feel unstructured and isolating so try to ensure you interact with your co-workers regularly, perhaps by utilising messaging apps like Slack, and having meetings over Zoom or other platforms to keep yourself in the loop with what is going on. Interacting just by email is not enough to keep you motivated and engaged. Reaching out regularly to your co-workers and managers will help you to feel more connected with what is going on.

There are obvious benefits working from home which include the flexibility, autonomy and the comfort of working in your own space. Generally speaking, it is usual to see an increase in productivity as well. A great way to maintain your work momentum, keep yourself motivated and look after your own well-being is to make sure you take the time at the end of each day, or even each week, to acknowledge what you have accomplished rather than fixating on what still needs to be done.

Email JMVA to find out how we can help you to prioritise your time and set up an efficient work routine to maximise your working day to achieve its full potential.