Remote work has been steadily the fastest growing sector of employment. According to the Global Remote Working data, the global force is spending less time in the office and more time working remotely, with a 62% average of global companies offering a flexible workspace policy. Recent events have increased the number of people working from home. According to EUROSTAT, the percentage of remote workers in the European Union has increased steadily over the years.
Many of us are working from home for the first time. If you lately found yourself working from home, and you were used to working in a structured office environment thriving on social interactions, the change can be stressful, adding to it the uncertainty that we are all experiencing these last months. But being productive, feeling motivated, and happy when working remotely it’s possible. You only need to organize yourself in such a way that you reduce the disadvantages and use the advantages in your favour.
How to organize your remote work to set yourself up for success?
1. Choose and personalize your workspace.
Auditing your home space for business use should be at the top of your list because it will impact almost every aspect of your work. The space you choose to work, and the way you place objects in this space, can all help to support your optimal wellbeing.
Do you know the practice of Feng-Shui? The basis of this ancient Chinese system is arranging our living spaces to maximize the characteristics of each space in order to feel well, and succeed in whatever we want to do there. The word ‘Feng Shui’ refers to two fluid elements: the wind and the water. In your office space, you could balance these elements having an orderly and minimalist office environment. An environment where light, wind, and ourselves move together with fluidity, just as water slides between rocks and the wind between trees.
We all respond to the atmosphere of each space. You cannot deny that when you enter a room, or when you open the door to an office, the view, the colours, the images and the arrangement of the objects has an effect on you, giving you a feeling of tranquillity or the opposite.
But here we will not delve into this ancient system we will only take from it, its essence. By this, I want to tell you that you should not leave the choice of your vital workspace to chance or to the need of the moment. Take practical considerations and organize what you have so that you build a space where you feel comfortable, full of energy, and motivated.
Questions to ask yourself, and considerations to take to create your space.
Considerations: If you live with family or roommates, the first thing you should do is consult them on how to divide the space. If you have the option, choose a place with natural light and good ventilation.
Key questions to ask yourself to help you create your vital workspace:
- What objects do I need around me to create my ideal work atmosphere? A plant? Coffee maker? A frame?
- What chair do I have available? Adopting a comfortable and correct position when working whilst sitting for long hours is essential for health and productivity. If possible, choose an ergonomic chair to avoid slouching, your spine will thank you.
- Is the lighting adequate? Appropriate lighting without shadows and glare will reduce fatigue.
- Is it a noisy space? Will you need headphones to cancel the noise?
Now, how does this space feel to you?
Once you have chosen and organized your workspace, it is time to identify the distracting elements that can affect your productivity.
2. Do you know what things distract you? And does it matter?
Who does not dream of having more time available? I am sure you can find more time in the day. Just review some personal habits, be aware of your distractors, and structure your environment in such a way that keeps you engaged.
How often are you diverted from a task by the beep-beep of somebody posting in your social networks? We are ultra-connected from when we wake up till the moment we go to sleep. It is not a secret that social networks are the greatest distractors of our time.
- WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among other social networks, are very useful, especially in this time of isolation, they give us the possibility to feel connected and informed. But if you access them when you are working on a task, they will distract you, and make you lose focus. What can you do? Silence them! Don’t let them control you, but be the one who decides when to use them.
Your mobile phone
- If you have social media applications on your cell phone, put it in “Airplane Mode.”
Visits or interruptions
- Maybe your partner, your children, or your roommates, with the noblest of intentions, interrupt you, and as this could happen not sporadically but frequently, the best thing you can do is to keep a consistent routine, if necessary hang a visible sign with your work and breaks schedule.
Ask yourself that question and come up with a strategy to eliminate the distraction!
3. Dressing up or not dressing up. Another dilemma.
Have you heard about the term Enclothed Cognition? It describes how what a person wears impacts the person’s psychological processes. Even when you work from home, what you wear can influence your work performance.
Although working in pyjamas can feel ideal for some people, most studies have found that preparing yourself as you normally would when working in your office, makes you a more productive person. Then dressing up comfortably you can create a sense of structure and a sense of time. It doesn’t mean you should not take advantage of the flexibility of working remotely. If at any time you want to work in your pyjamas from your bed, do it! But make it an exception and not the rule.
4. Schedule your workday
Most probably, you have control over your schedule. But, how to make the best use of your time?
This will depend on your habits and personality. Your goal is your wellbeing and productivity, to optimize your most productive times of the day and keep focused without stress.
Everyone is different, but for all of us, a morning routine helps the regulation of our circadian rhythms affecting our circulation and our mood. This routine will help you set an enthusiastic working mood, reduce stress, and ensure you are relaxed and productive.
And, what will you do with the time you will have ditched without commuting? These precious minutes are in your hand to use, sleep more, read a book, have a leisurely breakfast with your family, take a calm shower, whatever you want, enjoy that time, and more than anything feel thankful!
5. Incorporate breaks into your workday. Disconnect for a few minutes.
Sitting for hours on end without getting up, is counterproductive and affects your health. What breaks should you take?
This will depend on your habits and personality. But for optimal health, it is important that you pause, get up from your desk and take a break, even if you don’t feel you need it. You have many options, get up and stretch your body, take a power nap, practice a proper breathing technique, or enjoy a few minutes of power walking.
Do not forget to take your breaks. You can set the alarm on your computer so it will warn you when it’s time to stop.
Don’t miss your lunchtime.
Make the most of your lunch break. Reward yourself with healthy food, while you are working, you’ll need brain food. Eating healthy is eating food that gives your energy and also involves eating slowly and on a regular schedule.
6. Avoid feeling isolated, socialize with your colleagues.
Most of our communication is non-verbal, thus body language plays an important role.
How do you bond with your colleagues when you are not meeting face-to-face?
You could organize a weekly virtual coffee break, an informal chat about non-work stuff just to have some fun, to learn about each other’s interests or dislikes. You can chat about hobbies, ask for recommendations about films, or cooking recipes. If you are older you can offer mentoring, if you are younger try to appreciate the older colleague’s experience. If you work with other cultures you will need extra work to be understood but you will get to know your colleagues, and perhaps you will find similar interests.
Your working day is ending, now you have a few minutes of additional free time because you do not have to commute to go back to your house, you are already there!
These weeks or months dedicated to working from home will bring you self-knowledge, the ability to motivate yourself and to better manage your time.
The Guru lies within.
Mgr. Liliana Sanchez G.