work from home office

The Ultimate Guide to Working From Home

Working remotely has become a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have shifted their workforce to remote locations or allowed employees to telecommute. It is a shift that looks like it is here to stay.

The Future of Workforce Pulse Report by Upwork estimated that  by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

This shift, however, has affected everyone differently. Some people thrive in a remote environment, while others struggle. In terms of productivity,  90% of respondents were either confident or very confident that their productivity levels would only increase when working remotely. On the flip side, remote workers often report feeling isolated and disconnected from colleagues. They also experience challenges such as lack of motivation, low productivity, and stress. These issues can be mitigated by implementing some simple strategies. 

How do you stay productive at home? What strategies do you use to get things done?

3 Keys to Finding the Ideal Work-From-Home Routine

① Stick With the Original Work Times

Working from home can significantly reduce the time spent commuting, leading many people to sleep until the last possible minute before working. However, to get to a state where you can give 100% at work, buffer time is essential. Therefore, it is recommended to maintain the original schedule and use the original commute time to have a leisurely breakfast, a morning shower, or a simple yoga session to keep your mind and body in balance. It is equally important to eat on time and to rest at the right time. Although the working environment has changed, developing a consistent daily living habit is the basic way to make it easier to enter the "home office" state, and so continuing to follow the original times of your routine will help you to stay on track.

② Write a To-do List Every Day

Working from home means increased separation from your boss and colleagues, so no one will be watching or supervising your work closely. Self discipline is your own responsibility, and is incredibly important to maintain if you want to excel. It is recommended to write down a to-do list of everything you need to do before you get to work, so that you can master the progress of the work in a more planned way, and don’t forget anything important.

A useful suggestion is to be very specific when you create a to-do list, prioritizing your tasks based on how urgent and important they are. Additionally, ticking each box after completion will provide you with a sense of achievement, and keep you motivated through the more difficult tasks. It is also recommended to do the harder tasks first, so you can get them out of the way while you have the most energy.

③ Take Advantage of Online Communication

In addition to self-discipline becoming an obstacle while working from home, communication with colleagues has also become a major issue, since you do not see them every day in person like in an office setting. In addition to communicating through messaging and communication software, you can also try to use cross-platform collaboration tools such as Notion and Trello, so that members of the work team can all be on the same platform, working towards a similar goal. We compiled a  list of the best productivity apps, many of which are designed to help you and your colleagues connect and work virtually. Since working from home inhibits face-to-face discussions, many opportunities for communicating and socializing are lost, but for creative workers, the smaller opportunities found on these programs can provide the same inspiration as in person interactions would.

Having Trouble Concentrating? Wondering How to Stay Focused At Home? 

Follow These 3 Techniques for Maximized Focus and Concentration When Working Remotely

① Keep a Strong Divide Between Work and Home

A big worry of many people just starting to work from home for the first time is that it will be difficult to concentrate. An important suggestion to follow is to divide the space of your home into 2 parts, a “work area” and “personal area”. Your home should always be the place where you can allow your mind to relax the most, so by delineating parts of your home to work, you make sure that the parts you keep as personal space still allow you to feel the same relaxation. Not only will being more relaxed in your spare time increase productivity when you are working, but having areas that you only do work in helps your brain to understand when it is time to work, versus when it is time to relax, so you have an easier time focusing when you need to.

② Dress For The Job

When working from home, it may seem like the perfect opportunity to embrace your newfound freedom, and wear comfortable pajamas all day. But if this is how you’re dressing, then you’ll likely feel distracted and unfocused. People tend to act the way they feel, and if you feel like you're about to go to sleep, you won't have a very productive day. Instead, dress professionally. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you have. No matter what you need to do, dressing appropriately will help you focus on your work. You should always choose clothing that makes you feel good about yourself, and ready for the challenging tasks of the day. If you’re wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you won’t perform well, so find a good balance between comfort and professional wear.

③ Create a Ritual to Get into Work Mode

Having a routine that you follow each day will prepare your mind for anything that comes up during the day, and get yourself into the working mindset. There isn't one specific routine that works for everyone, so you should try out what you think is best, and find out what leads to you feeling more motivated and productive during the day. Here is an example morning routine that you can be inspired to follow to get into a working mode:

1) Wake up to your alarm clock
2) Start with a cup of coffee
3) Read the morning news
4) Listen to music
5) Exercise
6) Meditate
7) Dress professionally
8) Sit at your desk, ready for the day

The key to being more productive and concentrated when working from home, at the end of the day, is finding what works best for you and brings you the most happiness, and committing to it. The tips above are just a few things you can start using today to become more successful while working remotely, so you can remember what it is that you are working for, and enjoy the entire journey there.

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More about the author

Lily Cooper

Writer at RISEDESK

Lily is a Rotman Commerce student at the University of Toronto, and is the Creative Content Writer at Risedesk. Pursuing minors in English and Economics, Lily is also the Film and TV Representative at RCEM, and has a passion for journalism, literature, and entertainment.