Even before the coronavirus pandemic started impacting our physical work environment, the number of work from home employees had been steadily increasing. According to Global Workplace Analytics, the regular work from home population has grown 173% since 2005, with 4.7 million people working at least part time from home.
For those employees working from home before the pandemic, it was a concept that added convenience to them and their employers depending on their job profile. However, working from home during the pandemic has an added pressure beyond the typical telecommute and remote work environment. Companies should take this into account when distributing work and should adjust their expectations accordingly.
The most crucial aspect that employers need to address are concerns related to their team’s work from home productivity. Help them overcome these concerns and provide your team with applications that will allow them to be productive and stay connected. Provide employees with tools, including video conferencing apps, team messaging apps, project management tracking tools that allow your team members to have a smooth experience and enhance their work from home productivity.
Employers should also ensure that their employees have access to essential tools that are necessary for a smooth transition to an online work from home arrangement. Video conferencing accessories and IT peripherals like charging docks, speakers, headsets, chargers, keyboards, etc. are essentials that help your employees in conducting their daily operations without any hassles.
Either a series of one-on-one calls or team calls on a daily basis is highly recommended. When these calls become regular and have a fixed routine, the team will look forward to interacting with each other. These calls allow workers to consult their superiors and raise their queries. Let the employees' concerns or stress be the focus of this conversation; as a manager you can offer encouragement and emotional support to address this sudden change and crisis situation. These interactions must serve as a mechanism to address employee concerns related to work from home productivity, and benefits of working from home.
Set aside some time for non-work topics. Allow the team to catch up with each other, crack jokes, and have some fun time. Once in a fortnight, you can even arrange for a virtual party where pizza or snacks are delivered to the employee's home, and they all can enjoy it simultaneously during a video call. These types of events will help reduce the feeling of isolation, encourage work from home productivity and promote a sense of belonging.
It is a good practice to monitor progress regularly. Bring in clarity among your employees as to what tasks have to be prioritized, how many hours of work should be put in daily or who is the contact point if and when issues arise. By monitoring progress, you would be able to foresee any issue or additional support that the staff may need, thus allowing you to make necessary arrangements. As an employer you need to place trust on your staff. If you find any reliability issues, have a one-on-one conversation with the individual and address any problems. Employers have to remember that micromanagement is simply bad management, especially in a pandemic situation, and it can impact their work from home productivity and efficiency.
The work from home scenario can put a question mark in the employees’ mind about their progress at work. Some employees may feel they do not have the right skills to work in a home setting while others might feel that they are not progressing professionally. These factors can demotivate employees and affect the overall work from home productivity. To solve this issue:
· Arrange virtual training sessions provided either by senior staff or external training agencies
· Assign mentors to the junior staff
· Encourage team members to speak about difficulties they faced with a certain project and how they succeeded in overcoming it
Such sessions encourage and motivate individuals to improve their work from home productivity.
Since working from home lets you save on travel, you can use those extra minutes to have a more relaxed start to the day and also to increase your work from home productivity. Setting an alarm helps you to start working at a set hour instead of being flexible. Take a set coffee break and lunch break, and you will see yourself create a pattern in just a few days. Prioritise your set tasks for the day and start just as you would at work. It would even help to get dressed to work. There are chances that working in pajamas or shorts would make you psychologically less productive.
You can take a break of a couple of minutes at spaced intervals to stretch yourself and talk to your family members; this is a way of replicating your behaviour at the office where you would mingle with your colleagues. Having a fixed login and logout time would help you differentiate between work and personal time, thus creating adequate work-life balance.
A dedicated workspace at home might be the hardest to adhere to, as our laptops can be used on the couch, on the sofa or on the dining table. By not working at a desk, you are creating an environment for easy distractions. However, having an established workspace and dedicating a corner table and an ergonomic chair for work, you get to have a comfortable seating arrangement and helps you maintain boundaries between work life and home, thereby helping to achieve improved work from home productivity. You can talk to your employer and take their help in procuring the appropriate office furniture. Having a dedicated workspace will also let your family members understand that you need a workspace where you should not be disturbed. A workspace by the window would be ideal, as it would not make you feel isolated.
Try and keep your workspace minimalistic and simple. With fewer distractions around, your eyes will remain focussed on the tasks at hand. Try to keep your favourite books, magazines or e-reader separate from your work desk. Duplicating your workspace at home is a great way to have a working mindset with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm.
The work from home situation can cause a blur when it comes to differentiating between work and personal life, affecting one’s work from home productivity. It is therefore recommended to keep track of how you spend each hour of your work shift. Creating a to-do list allows you to keep track of your progress. This helps you to assign the more critical tasks in your most productive hours. As you complete one task after the other, check them off the list.
Working at one’s own pace can boost their work from home productivity. However, even after keeping a fixed routine and setting up a neat workstation, you can experience low work from home productivity and efficiency if the technology used by you is not up-to-date. Ensure that your system is up-to-date with all necessary software installed. Identify a good internet service provider that gives you good speed and connection. It is advisable to have a backup network connection in case of any outage.
One of the benefits of working from home is that you can take short breaks to tackle personal or family matters, but you should make it clear to your family that it should not be an expectation. Focus primarily on work during your shift, or else you will not be able to get your work done on time.
Healthy eating and sleeping habits are vital to increase your work from home productivity and improve efficiency. Hence, keep a check on yourself and adhere to a good diet. At the office, you eat only what is available in the cafeteria or the lunch that you have brought from home. But at home, you have access to a variety of foods, drinks and snacks, tempting you to run to the kitchen to get something to munch on. Overeating can cause one to be lethargic and sluggish, thereby affecting our efficiency.
Another important aspect that goes unnoticed when working from home is one’s sleeping pattern. Maintaining a sleep schedule keeps your head clear and is important to deliver best results at work. To achieve this, a good diet and a decent level of exercise is necessary.
By keeping our mind and body active and communicating with family, friends and colleagues, we are certain to make it through this pandemic without the fear of isolation. Working from home will soon be a preferred choice for many, as individuals will see the time and cost-saving benefits, and employers will notice increased work from home productivity, efficiency and creativity. Both employers and employees need to bring to light distractions and obstacles they face and find ways to get around them.
Both, employees and employers can take advantage of the extensive selection of work from home accessories and communication devices that are offered by Amazon with exclusive business discounts.