Tips to help you work from home more effectively in 2021
Updated: Jan 6
Working from home isn't easy. The spread of COVID-19 around the globe has meant more people are working from home than ever before. Although working from home received a push due to the pandemic, increasing numbers of people have been switching to remote working before this. Thanks to ever-improving technologies like Skype, Facetime, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Vxt Call, it’s no longer essential to work in an office full time to be a productive member of your team. Working from home policies have also been shown to boost productivity, reduce turnover and lower organisational costs.
With some parts of the world on full lockdown, and others encouraging people to work from home, it’s likely you will find yourself working from home at some point. Whether it's caused by COVID-19 or because you’ve switched to remote work, you’ll need to adjust your habits and routines to make working from home work for you. You’ll also need to ensure your team stays motivated and that you have the right tools for working remotely. We want to help you be more productive and efficient so we’ve listed some tips below to help you work more from home more effectively in 2021.
Set ground rules and define your work hours
When working in the office, your colleagues can often be the greatest distractions. The social benefits are nice, but can quickly cause issues if you are easily distracted. When working from home, you can become your own worst enemy because of this lack of socialisation. At home, no one’s watching you, so you have no obligation or responsibility to get things done. Also, home life has its own set distractions that can put you behind in work. Normal interruptions like power outage, accidents, pet or child needs will also be combined with stretched personal boundaries. You need to explain to others that working from home is still ‘work’. That means you can’t help them move during the workday or just chat on the phone. Setting limits on interaction with your children can be especially difficult. This is why you need to set working hours and boundaries and why it is crucial you stick to them.
A time tracking app like RescueTime can also be handy when figuring out the times of day you are most productive. Using that information you can set your schedule and save your important tasks and your focus for the hours of the day where you are most effective. Another benefit of working from home is the flexibility this offers. Sometimes you will need to accommodate someone else’s time zone by extending your day, or starting early. Make-up that time by finishing early or starting late the next day. If you set work hours and boundaries that work for you, then you will find it much easier to stay on task and have a high work output while working from home.
Keep a dedicated workspace
Just because you’re not working at an office doesn't mean you can’t have an office. Often people work from spaces associated with leisure time, such as a lounge room or couch. However it's crucial you find a specific area to work from each day. Although it's not always possible to have a designated home office, it's important to try and find a private and quiet workspace. Ideally, this would involve a separate work space from personal areas and you would use two separate devices, one for work and one for personal use. It's more secure for the employer and reduces the likelihood of distractions.
However, owning two computers isn’t realistic for most, and you may not have the space for a separate office area. Instead a desk, and some other tools can help you distinguish any space as a place of work. For instance, when your laptop is connected to an external monitor and keyboard, that can be considered work time. When you use it as a laptop, that can be personal time. You might even go as far as using a separate hard drive and user account for work. You want to make your home office feel like a place you can get work in and can maintain focus and productivity thanks to it being a tidy space. There’s great power in habit and having a certain place as your consistent work space everyday can help you get in the right frame of mind.
Use Technology to stay connected
For some, working from home seems like a net benefit, as it is easier to focus in the short term. However, as time goes on, you can start to feel cut off from the larger operation taking place in the office. Messaging and video conferencing tools can make it easier to check in with coworkers and remind you how your work is contributing to the bigger picture. Also, if your internet connection is of reasonable quality then your phone service can be delivered through the internet rather than your phone carrier. A VoIP service (short for Voice over Internet Protocol) like Vxt Call is a great alternative to a traditional phone services. Vxt Call offers lower costs than traditional phone carriers with increased functionality. The app can also help you set up a second phone number, meaning you don’t need a landline, a second mobile phone, or even a SIM card for your business calls. This can also help you better manage your work-life balance.
Also if your job involves making and receiving a large number of calls, a voicemail assistant like Vxt might be just what you need. Vxt can help you stay on top of your voicemail and the many time-consuming tasks associated with running your business and working from home. Vxt is currently available on both iOS and Android and is quickly gaining popularity due to its clean design and range of valuable features. This service includes automatic voicemail to email forwarding, contact-based greetings, and in-app dictation with Vxt Notes. Unlike alternatives, Vxt also offers integration through Vxt Web with other useful tools such as Slack, Pipedrive, Salesforce, and more. Using a voicemail assistant means you can manage your missed calls, increase your responsiveness, and save loads of time.
Schedule clear breaks and finishing times
It can be easy sometimes when working from home to forget to take a break. Don’t let the guilt of working from the same place you sleep stop you from taking time out. Rather than scrolling on social media though, take a walk outside or spend time with others in the house. You don’t need to work every second you are home to be more productive. Find what works best for you. Don’t short-change your breaks either. Make sure you take breaks in their entirety. Find out your company’s policy on breaks and take them. If you’re self employed, give yourself a suitable amount of time away from the screen. A lunch break of half an hour to an hour and two 15-minute breaks are common for most full time employees, depending on the organisation.
Breaks have been proven to improve productivity and it therefore makes sense to find what works best for you so you can be at your most productive. It’s also important to find a set finishing time for the day and to stick to it. This can be a motivating factor for you to finish on time, but also reward you for a hard day’s work. When the office is always there and with that deadline looming over your head it can be hard sometimes to leave your work space and acknowledge that you’ve finished. Many of those that work-from-home log in work time on nights and weekends because the work’s there and they can’t ignore it. Having a clear schedule for when to work and when to call it a day are essential to maintain a sense of work-life balance.
Working from home can be more efficient and more flexible than working at an office. However, you need to be realistic about your goals and about the pros and cons of working from home. Whether you have chosen to work from home or you've been forced to due to COVID, it's important to find what works best for you. You’ll need to make sure you have a clearly defined workspace, that you have set hours and also that you have the technology required to work effectively from home. There are added responsibilities, planning and discipline that come with the freedom of working from home. However, there is also the opportunity for hours of uninterrupted work. It’s not easier to work from home, it’s different. Hopefully this guide will provide you with some strategies that will help you boost your productivity so you can work better from home.