Stay productive while working from home: A 13-point essential guide
Telecommuting, teleworking, working from home, mobile work, remote work, flexible workplace… whatever you want to call it, it amounts to the same thing.
No chats about last night’s match at the watercooler. No comparing notes about the movie you watched. And no after-work drinks.
Just the work, I’m afraid.
But, looking on the bright side, you don’t need to commute for an hour by bus or drive to the office.
You can eat when and what you like and you get to see more of your family.
That’s great for work-life balance and managing stress levels, isn’t it?
And there are plenty of ways to make working from home incredibly productive too: strategies you can use to get more done and tools that make connecting with others a breeze.
7 Tips for creating a more productive workplace at home
- Separate work life from home life
Establish ‘do not disturb’ guidelines, work hours, break times, and a policy on handling personal matters.
For example, no doing dishes or laundry or taking out the trash during work hours.
The best advice is to treat your home office as if it were a ‘real’ office located somewhere else.
- Establish “office” hours
While telecommuting offers lots of flexibility, you’ve still got to stick to a schedule or time will run away from you.
Try to set daily work hours throughout the week to maintain a routine.
- Set up your space for work
Carve out a space in your home that becomes your dedicated workspace.
Ideally, it should have a door so that you can shut out noise or interruptions.
Making your workspace at your kitchen table or in your bedroom is asking for trouble.
- Keep the lines of communication open
If you’re working remotely, be sure that you’re not totally disconnected from colleagues.
Check in at least once a day by email, online chat, phone or videoconferencing with your onsite managers and co-workers.
- Get out of the house
Working from home can get lonely.
Make sure you get out of the house and spend time around other people at least some of the time. Take a walk after lunch, for instance.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is the best idea for connecting to a network that you don’t control.
This includes the Wi-Fi at co-working spaces, cafes, libraries, and airports, where your connection is not secure unless you set up a VPN.
Working remotely requires you to “over-communicate”.
Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so.
6 tools to make working from home much easier
- Slack for chat
Slack is a communication management app that is especially well-suited to remote work.
You can create team channels for every department and send direct messages. Slack also lets you drag-and-drop files, bookmark messages, and pin documents for quick reference.
This app cuts down on internal emails since it’s quicker, more efficient, and more user-friendly.
For remote teams, Slack can serve as a virtual watercooler, helping team members bond or blow off steam.
It provides a hub where you can meet other remote workers for both professional and team-building purposes (don’t underestimate the importance of that in the absence of a real office).
If your business uses Office 365, Microsoft Teams may be a better option for you than Slack.
- Zoom for video meetings
Zoom is the Swiss Army Knife of video conferencing.
Combining HD video with increasingly important features like screen sharing, content sharing, and local recording, it is an obvious choice for organizations in need of an end-to-end conferencing solution.
Zoom makes meetings more accessible and only one person needs to download it; everyone else can click the meeting link to jump in from their phone, desktop, or tablet.
As for point 1 above, if your business uses Office 365, Microsoft Teams may be a better option for you than Zoom.
- Zapier for sharing information between apps
Zapier lets you automate workflows by “bridging the gap” between your many other tools.
Busy team members dislike having to switch between apps. Zapier solves that problem by making sure that all of your customer and team information is synchronized between platforms.
Facilitate the integration of your other tools and keep your whole team in the loop while saving everyone valuable time.
- Trello for task management
Trello lets your whole team create, design, and assign tasks in a straightforward visual interface.
You can create “cards” for every task and sort them by department or assignee.
As a task progresses, team members completing their parts can slide the relevant card from one category to the next.
Trello’s collaborative tool lets your whole team stay informed of the progress of projects in a more instantaneous, visual, and engaging way than a series of emails or memos.
- Toggl for time tracking and reporting
Toggl is a great tool for assisting with productivity.
It incorporates a simple time tracker with powerful reports and it works across all your devices.
- Loom for screencasts
Loom is screencasting software available via Chrome extension or a desktop app. They have a free version and a paid plan.
You can use Loom on Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks.
It allows you to record your camera and screen with audio. You can then download your video, embed it on your blog, or share it via social media or email, etc.
That’s it. Now you have all the tips and tools to work productively and contentedly from home – without feeling that you’re not getting much done or missing the “buzz” of the office.