Three Tips to Improve Your Remote Work Productivity
No commute. No sudden meetings. No dress code. Telecommuting can be very convenient as long as our personal lives don’t get in the way. It can be easily ignored in the office, but at home it can be difficult to distinguish between personal and work time. Employee surveys have show that a bad management of work and familty responsibilities has major effects on employee productivity. People are too used to working in the office, as an example from March to May during the day time the number of active players on casinos not registered with Gamstop in UK increased by 34%. It might be a perfect indicator that we do not know how to manage our time properly and how to be concentrated when you should be.
Imagine a friend calling you in the midst of a project. You know you have to finish the job, but it’s impolite to refuse the conversation if you can basically talk. Or remember how, when making a plan for the day, you have to decide where to squeeze your personal affairs. It seems that loading the washing machine in the middle of the day will not take long, but in reality you can do it only late at night. As a result, it is completely unclear when you are busy and when you are free.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders tells you some tips to help make telecommuting more productive and enjoyable, whether you work from home every day or from time to time.
As someone who has been working from home for 12 years and advising other telecommuters on time management, I’ve seen good, bad, and terrible. In my experience, the most organized and efficient employees set their own boundaries. This allows them to get the job done successfully.
Determine business hours. This may sound silly, but if you want to work with concentration, pretend you are not working from home. Before I became a time management consultant, my work schedule was chaotic. I didn’t have an exact time to start working at the computer, I often had meetings or did my personal affairs during the day. Since my personal life did not have a clear time frame, neither did my work. At home, I felt guilty if I didn’t check my mail all the time. It always seemed to me that I did not deserve the right to truly rest.
Everything changed a lot after I set office hours for working from home (in my case, the working day lasted from 9 am to 6 pm on almost all weekdays) and clearly defined what can and cannot be done at this time. I asked myself, “Would I be doing this task if I was in the office?” If the answer was no, then this should be done before or after office hours. Household chores, various other things and meetings with friends had to be postponed to non-working hours. Of course, I could sometimes answer a call from friends during the lunch break. If I had an urgent matter like repairing a car, I could also schedule it for the daytime. But that was just an exception to the rule. Having set boundaries, I not only set aside specific times for work, but found out that outside of work hours I could focus on my personal affairs without remorse.
Plan a successful work day. According to BBC, by scheduling your time differently from your normal work day, you can maximize your efficiency. For example, if you work from home once a week or as needed, skip appointments during that time. If it is impossible to refuse them, devote at least half a day to concentrated work. Choose the appropriate hours based on your own strength and schedule of meetings.
Then select one or two tasks that you want to complete during this period. These can be tasks that require one or more hours of continuous work or a creative and strategic approach. It’s also helpful to skip email for a while, or at least not be distracted by it more than once an hour. Alert your colleagues about planned disconnections so they understand why you are delayed in answering.
Set limits for others. Explain to friends, family, and acquaintances that the days you work from home are not free time and are therefore not meant for outside activities. For example, if you are staying at home with your husband or wife, say, “Today I plan to work at the computer from 8 am to 5 pm. We can chat over lunch, but the rest of the time I’ll be busy.” If you make a promise and keep it (for example, you actually quit at 5pm), people tend to understand the limitations and don’t think you are consistently available.
Be diplomatic when visiting unexpected guests. Has a neighbour dropped by? Talk to them for a couple of minutes, as if it were a colleague who is stopping at your table. But don’t invite him over for a cup of coffee or start a long conversation. Instead, close the conversation politely with “It was great to talk to, but I have to finish work,” and make an appointment outside of office hours or over the weekend.
If you still need to fulfil a non-work request, check your “office schedule” for the amount of time you can allocate. For example, if relatives ask you to do household chores, imagine what you would have done during your lunch break, and agree to do household chores only during this period of time. Say, “I can pick up my dry cleaning and buy bread at lunchtime, but buy all the groceries after work.” You can complete orders in parts. You can say, “Today I will take the car for repair, but I will not be able to find out about health insurance until tomorrow.”
No need to explain that your time is limited in an apologetic tone. Be fact-based and value the time you spend remotely as much as the time you spend in the office. By being consistent and sticking to your promises, others will accept your new circumstances, and you will have more time to focus on your work.