The coronavirus outbreak pretty much put the world to a standstill. And you may be bummed about staying at home and not being able to go outside or to work for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get any work done.
Working from home isn’t a possibility for everyone but technology has made it easier for some to be able to work in the quiet and comfort of their own homes. For salespeople, transitioning from an office environment to a work-from-remote scenario isn’t a major change at all since it’s normal to meet clients outside of the office or via virtual meetings. But while it may not be unusual, it hasn’t occurred at such a broad scale before. That’s why some people are taking some time to settle into the remote work culture.
If you’re one of those, here are some best practices you can observe to maximize your productivity when you work from home:
1) Establish a dedicated workspace
First order of business is picking a dedicated workspace. You want to create a boundary between your work and your personal space to avoid intruding into the lives of other house members. If you can have a room all to yourself, that would be ideal. But if it’s not possible, a work desk should be fine as long as it’s in a less crowded and quiet area. Make sure you’re in a place where there is minimal distraction.
Prepare a contingency plan in the event of a power or internet outage such as a backup computer or a mobile hotspot. If you’re in a situation where going out to a cafe or a co-working space isn’t an option, a PAYG wifi dongle can be pretty handy.
2) Define your scheduled work hours and stick to it
If you’re not following a fixed schedule with the rest of your team, be sure to utilize your most productive hours for work. Respect your team members’ and your clients’ time as well. Don’t email or call them outside work hours if it’s not an urgent matter. And avoid making frequent changes in your schedule unless it’s absolutely necessary.
A remote work environment offers a lot of flexibility for individual members of the team but there are minimal casual talks and in-person communication. It is hard to convey someone’s tone over an email or a quick chat. When you work from home, it is important to stay connected and to build stronger relationships with your boss and colleagues. Make it a point to always let them know your schedule. Respond to emails as soon as you can. Make sure you understand instructions clearly before carrying them out.
4) Always plan your day and track your progress
Just like working in an office setting, the key to getting a lot of work done is planning. Make it a habit to list your accomplishments and progress within the day and prepare your tasks for the following day. Do standups and recaps before and at the end of your shift. It’s a minor habit that can help you be more productive.
5) Keep your workplace clean
It’s not necessary to make your workspace as fancy as your office space. Some people like to work with a bit of clutter and some like to keep it tidy. Whatever is essential to keep your focus, do it. But as much as possible, avoid bringing food and eating on your work desk. Maybe limit yourself to bringing coffee and water but have your meals somewhere else.
6) Establish boundaries with your personal life
One major thing that remote workers usually struggle with is keeping themselves from getting distracted by a lot of external factors – which can’t be helped when you work from home and especially when you have kids. You’re not expected to eliminate 100% of your household distractions but there are things you can do to reduce them.
Staying off social media during work hours, for example, is one way to minimize distractions.
7) Take breaks throughout the day
Block off 30 mins to an hour for lunch or to take care of personal stuff. You can either do a few short breaks distributed throughout your shift or one long break in the middle of the day. Adhere to these breaks for doing chores or any unfinished tasks at home.
8) Switch your workplace up every now and then
When your work and living space are the same, it’s almost impossible not to get cabin fever. To avoid getting distressed by being in one place all day, try to switch up your workspace. Move around the house. If there are other places where you can set up a work desk, try it. You don’t know what a simple change of scenery can do to your productivity.
9) Dress properly
Wear comfortable but decent clothes during your official work hours. When you work from home, it can be tempting to just wear sweats and a baggy shirt but you never know when you might hop on a video call with a prospect or a colleague.
10) Don’t forget the water cooler
Staring at your computer screen all day, not talking to anyone except for a few phone and video calls with clients and teammates can be distressing. Break the ice by joining or initiating a virtual water cooler with the rest of the team. You can have fun polls, QOTDs, and other interesting discussions. It’s not just a necessary break from work, it’s also a great way to learn more about your teammates.
11) Virtual happy hours or lunches
Aside from random chat breaks during work hours, you can also host virtual happy hours with your team. Team building isn’t just a physical activity. With the help of technology, remote teams can still bond over some fun activities like movie night using helpful apps like the Google Chrome extension, Netflix Party.
12) Always sign-off for the day
Let your colleagues know when you’re done for the day and you’re about to go offline. It’s a good practice to do a recap at the end of your shift. But if you’re on different schedules or if you have to end your shift earlier, let them know at least 30 minutes before you sign off just in case there are any last-minute stuff that needs to be sorted out.