Including how to stay productive, plus tips on conquering teamwork remotely…
So you’ve found yourself working from home again? Thanks COVID! Yes, we’ve been there, done that, but that doesn’t mean we’ve mastered the art of the home office quite yet. While working from home is often considered a perk or luxury, that doesn’t mean it can’t bring about its own set of challenges. Especially when you’re stuck indoors in a tiny Hong Kong flat.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide looking at how you can work from home in the most efficient and comfortable way possible. From staying productive to creating the ideal work environment, plus tips on how to communicate with your co-workers remotely, here’s everything you need to know…
How To Create The Ideal Work Environment
First things first, it’s important to create a separate workspace apart from where you normally live. Whether it’s a different room, or a designated space within a room, this will really help to create a distinction between work and play.
Next, take a look at your workstation and ensure it is set up for comfort. To avoid repetitive strain injuries, it is best to borrow or buy a keyboard so that you can raise your laptop screen up to eye level and have the keyboard at desk level. As a temporary solution, if you don’t have a keyboard for your laptop, you can raise it up for part of the hour to eye level so that you are not tilting your head down. Then put it down back down to normal desk level. Moving the screen between this up and down position can help prevent any issues with your wrists, arms and neck.
Finally, you want to ensure that your chair is at a height so that your elbows rest just above table level. If your feet are not touching the floor, then try and find something to rest your feet on so that you ease the pressure on the back of your legs. Small changes like these can make a huge difference to your health and well-being.
How Can I Keep My Focus And Concentration When Working From Home?
Concentrating at home is easier said than done when there are plenty of potential distractions (afternoon naps and 4pm TV breaks, we’re looking at you!). However, there are a few techniques which you can try in an effort to maintain concentration and productivity at the highest level.
Our number one tip is to create a workday behaviour pattern. Set yourself a routine! Yes, that means getting out of bed and dressing in actual clothes, as if you were going to work. Then move to an area where you have your workstation set up to get started with your day.
We’re also fans of using the Pomodoro Technique – a system of working which sets time intervals for high-level focus and concentration. As an example, try the following:
- Choose some work that’s going to take 25 minutes or more that you really need to focus on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and turn off all distractions, including emails and phone notifications. Let the people around you know that you will need 25 minutes of peace.
- Focus on your work for the full 25 minutes, then take a three minute break.
- Repeat x four.
- Then take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat from the beginning.
At least once an hour it’s a good idea to get up, step away from your desk and take a walk. This helps with a change of perspective and mental reset. Extended time focusing on a task, especially in a small place where you live and work, can be challenging. Stand up and walk around or take a look out of the window. Changing state and moving is great for mental rest and replenishment!
How Can I Communicate With My Co-Workers Remotely?
Let’s face it, part and parcel of the office experience is having the opportunity to catch up and collaborate with co-workers. But how can that happen when you’re all stuck at home, away from each other? Here are some top tips:
- Create a Google Meet, Skype or Zoom online huddle so you and your team can catch up once or twice a week. This ensures nothing is missed, whilst simultaneously giving everybody the opportunity to voice any issues or concerns. It’s also a nice way to remind your team members that they’re not alone!
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. If you have something to say and you normally walk up to that person in the office, call them. Just because they’re working from home doesn’t mean that you can’t speak to them. If it makes you feel more comfortable, send a WhatsApp first to let them know that you’re going to be calling shortly or ask them if it’s a good time. This creates a two-way conversation to help prevent any misunderstandings. Encourage your team members to talk to you and each other to maintain cohesiveness.
- Video call when you can. If you can see the person that you’re speaking to, it really helps with non-verbal communication cues (i.e. body language). If there are any issues arising, you may be able to understand them far better on video than on an audio call. This is certainly better than via text or email, where messages can be more easily misunderstood.
How Can I Look After My Mental Health Whilst Working From Home?
Some people absolutely love working from home and enjoy the solitude. Others find the adjustment difficult, especially when they are used to working in a large and vibrant team. Staying connected with your co-workers using the methods outlined above is important. Remember that it’s okay to ask for help if you need it. Reach out to people when you can. If you’re finding things difficult, make sure to speak with your manager – chances are you won’t be the only one struggling!
We also recommend planning lots of fun, social-distance appropriate things to do for when working hours are over. When there’s no distinction between work and home, the days can easily start blurring into one. Burn out is a very real risk! So, go ahead and break up the monotony. Whether it’s a fancy takeaway treat, a lunchtime online fitness class or an early night with a good book, this down time will do wonders for lifting your spirits.
As a contrast to being alone, being in close proximity to people for extended periods can be just as challenging. Asking for space from your family and/or flatmates, taking time out when you are sharing an apartment or creating your own private space when you need it is equally important. Remember to take care of you as well!
Read more: 8 Habit To Improve Your Mental Health
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March, 2020, and was most recently updated in February, 2022.