How to maintain communication and productivity when working from home
By Vanessa Cole
Working from home comes with many perks, but as dedicated employees we owe it to ourselves and our employers to make sure that we are maximizing our time and communicating efficiently. Below are some useful tips to not only surviving the workday, but thriving!
Here are some ways you can choose to handle these new work conditions to make your remote work more effective.
- Maintain a strict schedule and routine. Keeping the same wakeup, coffee, lunch, break, and end time will help you distinguish the workday from your personal life. If you are used to a long work commute, a quick morning walk might help you to wake up or get in the right headspace before working. The same goes for winding down after work – a small walk to turn your work brain off for the evening will help you feel more refreshed for the next work day!
- Have a designated work space. Find a comfortable and secluded space to transform into a small office in order to ensure that you are as productive as possible. Not only is this great for setting boundaries with family, but it will help separate your work life from your home life and eliminate unscheduled naps.
- Mimic workplace conditions. Music and radio will help to create a familiar office ambiance in the absence of your coworkers. As an added bonus, you get to pick the station and volume! Avoid TV during work hours – unless your office is consistently streaming Friends, you shouldn’t be either.
- Socialize with coworkers. This may sound like the opposite of productivity, but if you didn’t sit silently for 8 straight hours at the office, don’t do that at home! Water cooler chats and coffee runs are expected during the work day. Replace these connections by checking in on your coworkers and staying friendly. These small breaks will separate your day and make you feel less isolated.
- Mimic face to face communication when possible. Communicating via text and email is excellent, but when the only real conversation you’ve had all day was with your dog, video-chatting with someone who is experiencing similar workday changes can be refreshing! Plus, some tasks are just easier to handle through verbal communication
- Schedule phone calls with coworkers. If you are typically in close communication with particular coworkers in order to complete tasks, schedule phone or video calls with them. The communication is much more open and efficient than messaging. Group calls can also eliminate a lot of back and forth.
- Find some good headphones with a microphone. Calls from home can be difficult, especially with kids or pets at home. Using a smaller mic can eliminate sound feedback from the video call, and minimize any background noise at your house. The headphones will also help you to dissociate from your surroundings better. Gaming headphones work wonders for this!
- Communicate your extended breaks. If your office thrives off of collaboration, your coworkers are likely to expect that you are reachable from 9-5. When you take a lunch or coffee break, be sure to communicate this with your coworkers so as to avoid confusion or lack of communication. Departmental chat groups are great for small updates like this.
- Schedule daily check-ins with your department. Scheduling departmental meetings once or twice daily is great for maintaining accountability, encouraging effective communication, and breaking up the day! Setting voice calls for 9AM and 2PM is a great way to do this. Visit our management blog for more advice on how to manage employees when working remotely.
- Socialize! Offices are social places, and jumping from seeing 50+ coworkers in a day to sitting alone in your home can take a toll on your work performance and mental health. Don’t be afraid to check in on your coworkers to make sure they are doing ok. Schedule a virtual coffee date. On a more broad scale, having a company group chat can be great for productivity and socializing! Maintaining light conversations such as exchanging photos of your new furry coworkers can help maintain a sense of community.
With so much change taking place at once, it is important to not only plan for productivity, but to look for a silver lining! When you aren’t heading into your office each day, you’ve successfully cut out your commute time. Take advantage of your extra availability in the morning or evening to exercise, spend time with family, or get a jumpstart on dinner!
For more advice on how to benefit from WFH, see our other blogs here:
- Tips for working from home during COVID-19
- How to stay mentally and physically well during COVID-19
- 12 tips for parents who work from home
- How to manage newly remote employees