By Michele Don Durbin, Evernote‘s VP of Marketing
The global Covid-19 pandemic has seen many workers faced with having to work from home, whether they want to or not.
This has placed many workers in unchartered territory and put more strain on their lives as they juggle being productive in busy jobs with a new lifestyle away from the office.
This presents a particularly difficult challenge for UK workers as productivity is already below-par in this country, with research finding UK workers are 26% less productive than their German counterparts (ONS survey). Also, productivity levels are 16% below the average for the other six members of the G7 group of industrial nations (ONS survey).
So how can UK workers boost their productivity whilst also juggling the distractions and unfamiliarity many face when working from home in the current situation? As a home worker, how do you fix your productivity problems?
Here are five practical tips working professionals can follow to be more organised and productive whilst working from home in 2021.
Managing remote teams requires a different approach
The first point to consider is that if you manage other people in your job role you need to take a different approach to managing workers remotely than you would when doing so face-to-face.
Managers need to think about how working and communicating has changed and how they can approach these elements differently. One major problem is a lack of understanding from managers.
Every employee will be dealing with their own challenges when working from home. These can include things like having children in the home, coping with noisy building work in a neighbouring property, lack of appropriate working space or unreliable Wi-Fi.
Managers need to identify each issue and help employees to find ways to overcome any challenges as best they can. For instance, it could be a case that an employee with a young child adjusts their hours or the company pays for a Wi-Fi booster to help workers with unreliable internet connections.
Ensure clear communication
Communication becomes even more important when you’re working in teams composed of people working from home, because clearly understanding each other is crucial.
The day to day dynamic when working from home has changed – when you’re working from home you can’t quickly and easily ask the person on the desk next to you to explain something you don’t understand.
Plus, misunderstandings are five times as likely to happen when we move away from face-to-face conversations. That’s because a lot of human communication is nonverbal and relies on individuals interpreting each other’s body language.
Emails are the most prone to error because both parts of the conversation aren’t happening at the same time, so we don’t have the opportunity to instantly explain or correct ourselves.
Take care with all your communications, especially if your teammates can’t see your face and body language. Also, don’t be afraid to seek clarification or ask a question if something isn’t clear to you and encourage your teammates to do the same.
Use the right communication channels
Would you send an email to the fire service if your house caught fire? Absolutely not. You would ring 999. That’s because it is of course essential to use the right communication channel for the task in hand.
It’s the same for communicating within your team when you’re working from home. You and your colleagues need to pick the right channel for the right type of communication.
All team members should collectively agree on what type of communications should happen on which specific channels. Doing so will help you and your teammates to meet deadlines and build the trust that is vital for success.
At the same time, ensure all your communication with colleagues is clear about the three W’s: WHO, does WHAT, by WHEN. Achieving this level of clarity will make it much easier for you and your colleagues to meet deadlines and your team’s other commitments.
‘Go to work’ – symbolically it’s effective
There are clear benefits that come with working from home. For instance, you don’t have to battle the morning commute, queue for your coffee or get dressed into your office wear.
However, getting up at the time you would normally and getting dressed can make a big difference to your mindset. It will help you to maintain your daily structure and ensure you stay tuned into the daily rhythm of the working routine.
You can even take a short walk outside to act as your “commute” every morning, not only to help you maintain a good routine, but to start your day with the proven physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise.
Step away from distractions
To the inexperienced, at first working from home can seem to offer the time to combine a range of household tasks with your working day. It can be tempting to pop a load of washing on, call your friends or scroll through social media or news sites. But you must treat the day as you would do if you were in the office.
Use your breaks or lunch hour to do household chores and chat with family and friends, during working hours focus on the tasks you’re required to do for work.
Also, reduce or removing distractions whilst you’re working. For example, turn off notifications on your phone (or better still put it on flight mode) and close your email inbox.
On the flip side, many people find they’re more productive at home as the office distractions are eliminated so home workers often find they get more done. In which case you can finish on time and not have to stay late.
Ultimately, if you invest a small amount of time to follow these tips it will help make you vastly more organised and productive whilst working from home in 2021.