Staying productive while remote – A complete guide

12:39 AM | 14 May, 2020
Staying productive while remote – A complete guide
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With the COVID-19 situation spiraling out of control, most offices have turned to remote work. A remote style of work is one that allows the employees to be able to carry out their daily office work from wherever they are located. It is up to people if they want to work from home or from a café or coffee shop. However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is almost impossible for people to go into cafes or coffee shops to carry out their office work. With cloud communicative and, team collaborative tools along with remote assistance and management software, it is now quite easy to carry out remote work outside of an office environment.

It is, however, challenging for many businesses that have never worked remotely to transform into remotely functioning companies. This transition is not carried out only at the level of the company and its SOPs but also at the level of each individual employee. With the remote work environment, it is quite hard to stay productive and motivated. It is vital that all teams and the managers work in a similar fashion to deliver the same levels of productivity that they show in offices.

A work-at-home situation may seem all fun and games- you get to work from the cozy confines of your bed in your PJs. Additionally, the hours are of your choice and you do not have to deal with nosy co-workers while saving the money you spent while commuting to your workplace. It just sounds too good to be true. The downside of working remotely is that it is quite difficult to keep yourself focused due to the lack of productivity, low energy levels, and the shallow slope of procrastination that you keep slipping into. There is always a higher chance of getting distracted when working at home.

An important dilemma right now is keeping your focus while working from home to maintain the quality of your work. There are many productivity tactics that are now being carried out by people who are working from their homes; from the CEOs to the entry-level staff. The following tips and tricks are meant to keep you involved in your work while maintaining productivity in a remote working environment:

Start your work early

It is always a good idea to start working as soon as you wake up and grab your morning coffee. Stalling can cause you to become lazy and you will end up curling back into your bed. Moreover, the most productive time to work is a few hours after you wake up. This is why most offices have morning timings. When you look at it from a productivity standpoint; there are lesser distractions when you wake up early in the morning thus making it easier for you to focus on your work and be more productive.

Don’t work in bed

Most people make the mistake of starting their work with sleepy eyes without even getting out of bed. Turning on your remote work software right when you wake up is never a good idea. Find a spot where you can work. It may be your dining table or your sofa but make sure that is a place that you do not change every day. Let your mind associate that area of your home as your working space. Working in your bed is a productivity killer because your brain is trained to fall asleep or carry out leisure activities there as it is your personal space.

Put your phone away while working

One of the main distractions that you face is in the palm of your hand - your smartphone. While in an office environment you may refrain from checking those Instagram notifications incase a senior may pass by and see you scrolling through your feed. This fear is absent when you work from home so it is required that you self-discipline yourself by putting away your phone. Checking your phone every few minutes distracts you from the task you are working on and reduces your productivity.

Ensure that your voice is heard

When working remotely make sure that your team is hearing what you have to say. Do not hold back on new ideas and aspirations that may have popped into your head. Even though virtual meetings might sometimes feel awkward but you have to put in your two cents to make sure that you stay productive and involved in the projects. This shared sense of leadership that is generated when you give your input is actually quite helpful in creating a sense of responsibility and work-driven energy.

Murder that temptation

It is quite easy to get intimidated by the tiniest things when you are at home. This may be something as small as your siblings playing a game of badminton that you might feel like joining or a TV show that you might hear being aired and want to see. Try to fight off these temptations and resist the urge to your best ability. A good idea is to ignore those temptations altogether by choosing a spot at your home that is least close to all the distracting factors.

Keep close track of your progress

There is no one who can motivate or push you like your own self. Keep close track of your progress by using different software. Make sure you give yourself a pat on the back on days when you are being productive and scold yourself on days when you are unable to keep that focus aligned. If you keep a track of how many hours you work every day, along with the number of tasks completed; you can spot your strengths and weaknesses and improve your performance.

Do not stray from good meeting etiquette

Even though you are working remotely, do not forget the meeting manners. Whatever you do when carrying out in-person meetings, make sure you implement it for virtual meetings. If you are a CEO or a senior, make sure that you send a proper email prior to the meeting to all the participants. Make meeting minutes as you would do in real-life meetings, send a meeting agenda to all the participants a day before the meeting, and start and end meetings on time. Just because everyone is at home, it does not mean that they will be available for meetings 24/7.

Creation of a virtual office space

Try creating a virtual office by using tools such as Asana, Slack, or even Skype to create a real office feel. As a senior, this will allow you to observe who is available and who is not. For mid-level employees, you can see the co-workers that are online, giving you a sense of accountability. Make sure you schedule coffee breaks for the team at the same time to create a feeling of united working space.

Communicate, communicate and communicate

Do not forget the importance of communicating much more when working remotely. One of the main reasons why remote work fails is that peers do not communicate with one another, giving birth to a sense of isolation that leads to a lack of productivity. You might have a habit of falling into a radio silence but make sure you pull yourself out of that habit over a remote working situation. Over-communicate if you have to but make sure you and your colleagues stay motivated.

It all comes down to whether you have children live alone, or a noisy neighbor who seems to yell the loudest when you are in the middle of an important Zoom meeting, it can be tedious to strike a balance between work and home life — without sacrificing your productivity.

The writer is an Islamabad-based doctor and writer. She works for women empowerment and the creation of a better place for those less fortunate. Her writing varies from poetry and prose to throwing light upon the harsh realities of life.