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Staying motivated and productive while working from home

Ratna Wright Ratna Wright

“Leave work at work.” We’ve all heard a version of this saying. But what happens when you have no choice but to bring work home?

COVID-19 has put countless people in this very situation. Governments worldwide are shutting down cities and encouraging (or requiring) citizens to stay home. Even in countries where the government is not enforcing self-isolation, many companies have decided that the best course of action to preserve the health and safety employees and to have them work from home whenever possible.

For many, this will be their first experience with remote work which can bring many challenges – both personal and professional.

To make things easier, and to get the most out of your working hours at home, we can recommend a few good habits to get into to help ease you into the situation.

1. Create a morning routine and stick to it

Do all the same things you would typically do before work, and this includes waking up at your usual time, showering, getting dressed, and having breakfast. If you aren’t already in the habit of exercising before work, now is the perfect time to start. That morning commute time can now be morning workout time. Not only is this good for your overall health, but studies have shown that it makes you more productive too. Getting dressed as you would for an ordinary workday helps you get into the proper frame of mind, and if you need to have an unexpected video conference with a co-worker or client, you’ll look your professional best. 

2. Set up a proper work environment

Organise your workspace like it is at the office. A comfortable chair with a clean desk, brightly lit space, and few distractions will be ideal. While you’re sitting at your desk, your mind should be set strictly on business. If possible, try to break for lunch at the same time every day and leave your workspace for it. You should also schedule regular short breaks throughout the day, where you stand up, stretch, and walk around a little. When you sit back down at your workspace, you’ll find it easier to stay laser-focused.

3. Stay social

Stay in contact with your colleagues as much as possible. Group chats are a great way to keep spirits up and maintain a semblance of your usual office culture. If you need to discuss a project with a co-worker, consider having a video call. If you’ve been home alone all day, it’s nice to see a familiar face. Plus, a conversation is usually a far more effective means of communication than an email exchange. After work hours, stay in touch with friends and family. Even though most of us have to stay home, we can still support each other. Thanks to the technology of the digital age, self-isolation and remaining social need not be mutually exclusive. 

4. Go outside (if you can)

Going outside for fresh air can do wonders for your body and mind, as long as you’re feeling healthy and you remember to practice social distancing. It’s especially crucial for you to get some sun, as it boosts your body’s production of vitamin E and helps you maintain your circadian rhythms. Getting out in the daylight will help you sleep better at night, letting you wake up feeling recharged and ready for the day. 

5. Share new skills

Out of necessity, you’ll be relying heavily on technology for your telecommuting needs. You’ll probably also pick up some useful new digital skills along the way. But you don’t need to stop there. Consider sharing these new skills with your co-workers, either through one-on-one calls or webinars. On a company-wide level, remote work presents some significant opportunities. It’s an excellent opportunity to make adjustments that improve current work processes. If your company isn’t already making this effort, take the initiative and suggest it.

6. Log off at the end of the day

While working from home, it’s of even greater importance to maintain an excellent work-life balance. Barring unusual circumstances where you have an urgent project to complete, stick to regular work hours. When the workday ends, log off, and try to put work out of your mind until the following day. That way – at least virtually and mentally – you can indeed leave work at work. 

Things will feel different for a while, as we try to get through this pandemic. But these tips can help keep your work productive and your spirits up, as you protect the health of those around you. Eventually, we will overcome the worst of this virus. By taking the right precautions, and following the proper routines, you can stay motivated and productive, and even build up some useful new skills that will continue to serve you well when life and work go back to normal.