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Work-from-Home Coronavirus Tips: 6 Ways to Be Productive, Efficient and Engaged

Category: B2B News

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we work drastically. Those who spent most of their days in their offices now find they have to work from home in the time of the pandemic. Many will understandably find their world turned upside down and are hardly ready for it. That is because the software that organizations use within the office may not qualify as remote work software.

Employees need not be at a loss on how to proceed with remote work, however. And there’s no need to fret: for you, we came up with this guide on work-from-home coronavirus tips that can aid you on how to stay productive, efficient and engaged.

work from home coronavirus tips

In 2019, only 7% of civilian workers in the US could telework. Meanwhile, 4% of government workers had that benefit. And the one thing they had in common was the fact that they are some of the highest-paid in their organizations.

The demand, however, is higher than that. Indeed, a survey shows that 94% of employees would gain an advantage from remote work. A few of the benefits they believe they would get from remote work are less stress and work-life balance. On that note, one study shows that 24% of employees feel happier and productive if they work from home at least once a month.

employees are happy with remote work

Though the pandemic has forced this large-scale remote work experiment, it can turn out to be advantageous. Previous research, such as those involving the US Patent and Trademark Office, have shown that working from home increases productivity. Indeed, USPTO examiners showed a 4.4% boost in output by working remotely.

Of course, there are challenges. Among those are keeping a proper work-life balance. Experienced remote workers may have achieved this already. But for those who are new to it, this article has pointers that can aid them in becoming productive remote workers.

1. Separate Work from Personal Life and Get a Second Desk

It is easy to blur the lines between work and personal life when you are working from home. So one of the things that you have to do is to dedicate a space purely for work. Even a tiny second desk could be a huge help. This is one of the most important aspects of making remote work successful.

But that is not the only thing that you need to do. Here are more tips that can assist you in setting a clear line between your home and work life:

  • Get dressed for work! This works for some because it makes them feel like they are indeed working. If this is not for you, at least get out of your PJs and wear something else that is comfortable, like jogging pants.
  • Treat your other desk as your workplace. Only do work when you are at that desk to discipline yourself.
  • Keep only essentials on your work desk. Avoid cluttering your workspace and only keep what you need in that space.
  • Free yourself from distractions. Do away with anything that could distract you. Yes, these include your pets.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it. When it is time to start, begin. When it is time to go off the clock, halt.
  • Breaks are okay! There are studies that show taking a 5–15-minute breaks from work every hour can make you more productive. It can even fuel your creative juices. But take care not to overdo it, or you will find yourself working overtime.

“Home distractions” is the fourth biggest challenge faced by remote workers. By delineating a work-vs-home line, you can minimize the issue.

Source: Buffer State of Remote Work 2019

2. Organize Your Workday and the Tools that Can Help

Your daily routine in your office can differ largely from your day-to-day activities while working from home. This sudden change from onsite to remote work may throw you off, and this is why you have to establish a routine immediately. It all starts with planning your workday.

  • Set a time for responding to yesterday’s messages. The best time to do this is as soon as you begin working. This lets you see whether there are updates or changes to your tasks. After all, nobody likes to keep working on a task and find out later that there have been modifications in the specifications when it is almost completed.
    Tool you can use: Email management software like Microsoft Outlook. It can organize your emails using categories and tags.
  • Make a list of priorities. This depends largely on what you have on your plate, of course. Determine which tasks require your utmost attention for the day. Then, work your way down the rest of your list.
    Tool you can use: If you are working with a team, then you may want to look at monday.com, which many consider the gold standard for collaborative project management, whether in the office or for remote settings.
  • Avoid multitasking. There is no such thing as multitasking. What really happens is you make sudden shifts between tasks. While it sounds like you are productive, you are actually being less efficient. You can do more when you focus on one task and start on another once that is completed.
    Tool you can use: Todoist is another to-do app that lets you keep track of tasks.
Mondaycom PM dashboard sample

A good collaboration platform like this monday.com dashboard helps you organize, prioritize and monitor tasks.

3. Separate Work Files from Personal Files

The coronavirus pandemic has thinned the line between work and life more than ever. For some, they already overlap. It is not just in daily activities; it happens in the virtual world, too. By this, we mean that you could be using your work computer for personal reasons and vice versa.

Fortunately, there are multiple techniques you can leverage to help you prevent accidents like sending memes to your boss. Here they are:

  • Set up work folders. Windows 10 has an option that lets you create separate Work Folders. You can access this in the Control Panel. Or better yet, just type it in the search bar. You only have to enter your work email or URL to begin configuring it.
  • Create a new desktop. Another trick on Windows 10 is a new desktop. When you use three fingers to slide up on your mouse pad, you will bring up thumbnails of open or active windows. You will also see an option for a new desktop. Click on that, and you can see Desktop 2. It will still have the same installed programs, the same folder set up. But the difference is there are no open windows so you can bring up a fresh browser with only work-related links open.
  • Configure another user account. Windows PCs let you configure different accounts on a single machine. You can leverage this to separate work and play.
  • Use a web browser for work. By that, we do not mean your Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. There is a new breed of software that bundles numerous applications and lets you work on a single interface with them. In this way, you can keep your work apps in one place.

4. Essentials for Collaborating with a Remote Team

One good thing about working with people together in one place is that you can have interactive discussions. But at this time, that just isn’t possible. But this does not mean you have to give up on having engaging conversations with your teammates.

Fortunately, some solutions allow for interesting and productive discussions online. The list is not even limited to video conferencing software and collaboration solutions.

But before we move on to those tools, here are some tips that can help you hold productive online meetings:

  • Create a set of guidelines. Before everything else, list what are the expected behaviors among teammates during the conference call.
  • Practice clarity. You may fall into abbreviations or other shortcuts during the conversation. When that happens, confusion may ensue because unless you have established their meanings beforehand, it is likely that others may not understand.
  • Be succinct. Everyone has a task they need to finish. And for them to complete it within the allotted time without sacrificing quality, well, they need time. On that note, make sure to keep your meetings succinct. Also, avoid discussing unrelated matters like someone’s birthday party unless that is what the meeting is all about.

Collaboration Tools

These tools ensure that team members are always on the same page, a feat that becomes difficult when teams don’t share the same space. These software usually offer features for task management, allowing users to create, assign, and update tasks. As a result, teams enjoy more efficient collaboration and improved productivity.

  • Wrike. An excellent collaboration and project management tool all around with all the functionalities you’ll need while working at home. Wrike is also a great choice if you’re looking for remote workforce management software.
  • Trello. Easily one of the most popular tools for collaboration that you can find, one that uses the most of kanban boards, cards, and lists.
  • Zoho Projects. From Zoho, the house of well-received productivity suites, this one built to satisfy organizations and their team members.

Document Management

If your team has numerous documents you need to exchange back and forth, you may want to use a document management software. This kind of solution lets you organize documents in the cloud. There are even examples that let you edit documents with teammates simultaneously and with chat, comment, and annotate features.

  • PandaDoc. This cloud-based document managing platform has familiar functionalities like document creation and sharing. On top of that, it has support for esignatures.
  • Vitrium Security. This content security software offers asset protection while enabling seamless file-sharing or distribution.
  • PDFelement Pro. Though a PDF-focused software, this tool lets you convert documents with OCR technology at a fraction of the cost.
pandadoc co-authoring

A file-sharing platform like PandaDoc allows co-authoring between remote workers.

5. How to Communicate and Build Strong Relationships with Teammates

Just as it is important to build strong relationships with your workmates in the office, so it is crucial to do the same with remote colleagues. Of course, it can be challenging, as you can neither see the physical signals your coworkers send nor can you send your own (unless you are doing video conferences).

What you can do instead is rely on text. Here are some guidelines you can follow when chatting with your teammates:

  • Be clear. We mentioned this earlier, but it deserves repetition: do not risk others missing the point or context with your abbreviations or shortcuts.
  • Come up with a code word. Chat is an always-on communication line so most people send messages to their coworkers anytime. And sometimes, it is not even about work. So, to prevent frustrations due to interruptions, it is a good idea to come up with a code word. Employees can use these when they want to focus wholly on work and do not want to be disturbed unless necessary.
  • Use emojis wisely. Emojis are fun, but they can be misunderstood.  That is why you need to use the proper emojis or use them only when you need to express something that you are unable to do so in words.

We are so used to long-winded emails and email threads that it is almost a fact of life in the office. However, it is easy to lose important information in any of those exchanges. Instead, your team can use communications tools that allow you to send instant messages and collaborate in one interface.

  • RingCentral Video. Instant messages, voice calls, or video conferences. However you want to communicate with your team, you can do it with RingCentral Video.
  • JustCall. This support software streamlines communication with customers but also makes it seamless for sales and support professionals to collaborate with each other.
  • Flock. You can stay connected with the entire team on this platform.

6. What You Can Do to Stay Sane, Healthy, and Productive during the Pandemic

We are all staying within the confines of our homes because of the pandemic. We might have taken the upper hand in mastering the ABCs of how to work remotely from home, but we still need to take good care of our health because even remote work can be stressful.

  • Stay hydrated. When you are busy, it can be easy to forget little things like drinking water. But keeping a glass or bottle nearby can serve as a constant reminder to hydrate. Don’t fall for the myth that sipping water every 15 minutes can kill the new coronavirus, though.
  • Take your vitamins. A healthy immune system is one of the keys to overall well-being. One way you can achieve that is by taking vitamins, especially those that promote immunity. Plus, having a strong and healthy body means you do not have to miss workdays because you got sick.
  • Move it, move it! You do not have to go to the gym to exercise. Even a small space would suffice. If you do not like to huff and puff too much, you can still opt for simple yoga or stretches. This is important, too, considering that remote workers spend most of their time sitting. And sitting for long periods can reduce your lifespan.

Develop a Routine

Recently, health officials have called for social distancing in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This means that people need to avoid being in large groups to stop the spread of the disease. And this also means that people cannot work in their offices anymore as it would violate social distancing rules. Suddenly, teleworking became a reality for a large body of civilian workers.

However, working from home can both be a boon and a bane. Indeed, some of us may loaf around or do other things except for work during a workday. That is not very productive, and it can only lead to frustrations because you have to cram to meet a deadline.

To combat being unproductive, you need to set up a routine. If you are a business owner or a manager, you have to walk the fine line and master the best practices indicated by an excellent remote team management guide.  You do not need to have one from the get-go, but you must come up with it sooner than later. In this way, you can round up as many tasks as possible within the day.

Louie Andre

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. From pitch deck to exit strategy, he is no stranger to project business hiccups and essentials. He has been involved in a few internet startups including a digital route planner for a triple A affiliate. His advice to vendors and users alike? "Think of benefits, not features."

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