How to Make Working from Home More Efficient

Recently, many of us have started working from home. Although it sounded like a good idea at first, many professionals accustomed to working in large offices are now facing challenges in organising their working routine.

photo by andrew neel on unsplash

A day in your home office probably starts at around the same time as before. You open your mailbox, browse through your emails, make a list of tasks and get down to work. At some point, you realise you have forgotten to have breakfast, so you make a short break. Soon after, your mum calls to make sure that you are safe at home. Then a colleague calls to ask about a piece of information related to work. In the end, you spend more time moaning to each other about the effects of isolation on your social life than talking about work. When you finally get down to it, you realise that you need a report that still has not arrived so, instead of asking them personally if you were in the same office, you now need to write series of emails to your office mates to inquire about the status. Then your dog needs to pee. You begin to feel a headache and decide to have a coffee.

Many people who are forced to work from home report that now they need more time to finish their daily work than before.

For those not used to working in a home office, efficient working from home boils down to three factors: good organisation, self-discipline and focus.

I will share with you a few advice that at first may seem obvious, but nevertheless, it is good to be reminded of them.

Organise your office space.

First and foremost, do not switch places where you work. Have your office in a separate room or a working spot if you live in a small apartment.

Your home office should not have a TV or similar distractions that you normally do not have in your company office.

If you do not have a room of your own, try to isolate yourself from other members of your family by orienting your desk toward the window or a wall and by playing some relaxing music on your headphones while working, to avoid audio distractions.

Set your working hours.

Set fixed hours for work and stick to them. Avoid doing all other things except having short breaks. If you stick to this rule religiously, you will soon realise that you need less time to finish your work than while working in the company office.

Communicate with your colleagues that you will not be available after 5pm and ask them to respect your time so that you can all be more efficient.

Make it clear for your family members that you are not available for them during your working time. This can be very challenging if you have small children, so try to keep them occupied with their homework and arrange with them to have play-time after all of you have finished their work. You can also arrange work-shifts with your spouse and cover for each other by taking care of the children while one of you is working.

Forget about Instagram, Twitter, news portals with disturbing breaking-news and stay focused on your work. Sooner you finish, the more time you will have for other activities that you usually never have time for when commuting and working in the company office.

Teamworking while working from home.

If you are used to relying on your colleagues during work, this part will be most challenging for you.

The most straightforward rule is to have 30-minutes online meetings (using Skype, Zoom or Team Talk, e.g.) to discuss the details of your work. Plan your talking points in advance and share them with your colleagues so that everyone is prepared for the meeting. Try to stay focused on the topic during the discussion, and you will be amazed at how much you can achieve in just 30 minutes. Set tasks for each other to be finished before the next meeting. If you are a creative professional, use these 30-minutes meetings for brainstorming, not for group thinking or chit-chat.

Create groups of people working on the same project using Skype, Viber or WhatsApp and share with each other instant messages. Avoid spamming each other’s mail inboxes with numerous questions and service information.

Have mercy on your subcontractors.

If you are a client, be aware that we are all facing an emergency situation. Do not demand from people more than you would if they were working in normal conditions. Just because people have started working from home does not mean that you are now entitled to put extra pressure or workload on them.

I hope these tips help.

Stay healthy and creative.

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