increase over the past five years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, working remotely became essential for controlling the spread of the virus. Many individuals who now find themselves working from home may be unfamiliar with the challenges and benefits of remote work.
Companies that had remote positions before the pandemic were already equipped with tools to maximize productivity. However, those transitioning to remote work might need to adapt their IT infrastructure.
In this post, we’ll explore the steps your company may need to take and answer some frequently asked questions:
- How to stay focused and productive while working remotely
- How to work from home without distractions
- How to maintain productivity at home
Keep in mind that everyone is different, and some of these techniques might not suit everyone. The key is to discover strategies that work best for you when working from home.
One of the first questions you may ask is how to avoid distractions while working from home. Social distancing is the primary reason for remote work, and maintaining this mindset at home is crucial for productivity.
While remote work eliminates some traditional office distractions, you may encounter new ones at home.
Find a secluded space in which you can isolate yourself from your relatives but, most importantly, your furry friends. Make sure you have the conversation with your kids about when they can interrupt you when your working and set boundaries (This can be a lot harder said then done).
I know personally if I didn’t close my door, I would have my dog’s nose trying to lift my arm, as he is always demanding pets.
Take the time to set up your space. Having a clean, organized work environment improves productivity and helps you stay focused. Many studies and research shows that clutter can make it hard for you to focus on the task at hand.
Utilize spare monitors that are available to you. Having multiple monitors has been shown to boost productivity, especially for technical skills like web development. Don Reisinger wrote a great article about why multiple monitors increased his productivity and backed it up with evidence.
This one might be harder for some people. Run a physical Ethernet cable for internet (The significant other in your life might not like this one if it requires a cord through the living room). When working from home, you are often connected to a lot of your companies infrastructure remotely, whether it is through a VPN or web portal. WiFi tends to be unreliable for a consistent connection, especially if your whole family is at home using the network. In the end, you don’t want the microwave disconnecting you from your remote work server or the interference from you twenty WiFi sources in your apartment building. If you cant run a dedicated Ethernet and live a densely populated area with lots of WiFi connections then changing your routers channel or investing in Dual/Tri-Band router can help.
Make sure you have a webcam, mic and anything that will help you work with your team remotely. If you are constrained for time, you can often use your phone. Test your mic and video, try not to be the guy with unbearable screeching coming from your mic.
Work From Home Productivity Tools and Tips
How to stay organized and productive? Use the many tools available to you. A popular technique to use is called the: Pomodoro Technique
- Choose a task you want to be accomplished (or a part of a job)
- Set the Pomodoro (a timer) to 25 minutes
- Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then check off what task or subtasks you have accomplished.
- Take a short 5-minute break
- Every four consecutive Pomodoros take a more extended break.
There are lots of Apps that can help you use this technique as well as a host of other features. Some suggested also work well for managing a whole team.
I recommend the classic and straightforward TomatoTimer.
If you are looking for ones that offer more functionality checkout zapier’s in-depth Pomodoro review
Health care for your eyes
Staring at bright white screens for long periods can cause eye strain. This strain becomes worse at night as your eyes are naturally not accustomed to that intense light at those hours.
First, use dark mode when possible. I use Dark Reader for my browser (they support edge, chrome, safari and firefox) and find it quite useful and one of the better dark modes out there.
For applications that you will use to work from home, check out their support pages to enable dark mode.
The next consideration would be using a blue light filter. Blue light at night can damage our circadian rhythm and make going to bed that much more difficult. I recommend using Flux for windows and Flux for MacOS
Tools for Managers and Business Owners
As a manager or business owner, you want a balance between making sure your employees are productive while also not being too invasive. If you are skeptical of trusting employees to work from home, then here is an article that might ease your concerns.
Project management of your remote teams is vital. We use HIVE Desk at IT Partners as it allows us and the employee to keep track of time, update notes, built-in task manager, and many other features.
Keep in mind that different organizations have different needs. Take a look at the reviews and ratings for different solutions.
Communication is vital, so make sure you have access to a way to keep your employees working together effectively.
Some popular applications are
- Microsofts Teams (adoption strategy)
- Slack (Guide to success)
- Zoom (Main features)
- Facebook Workplace (About)
- Google Hangouts Chat (Guide)
For more options and reviews, check out the PC Mags article. Many other tools exist depending on your situation. Have a look at this site that outlines some other tools depending on your organization.
Cybersecurity At Home
When implementing any strategy, make sure that you prioritize your cybersecurity. We at IT Partners have many tools available to make sure that your small business, medium-sized business or enterprise is ready to work from home securely.
Please have a chat with us to make sure your team can work productively and securely during COVID-19.