For significant portions of today’s workforce, the challenges of the past year have forced an all-new reality: working from home. And while some workers are naturals at the telecommute and welcome it with open arms, others sorely miss the structure of the office and have struggled to maintain their productivity levels without it.
There is good news for the latter group of workers, though. By employing the right technologies and taking a few deliberate steps to tailor a workspace that minimizes distractions, it is possible to clear the hurdles the home environment can create. Consider these five ways to pump up productivity levels in the home office:
- Maintain a dedicated work area: Even without a true home office, workers can tamp down some of the typical distractions of home life during work hours by setting up shop in a lightly trafficked area of the house. With a comfortable chair, an internet-connected computer and a clutter-free work surface all assembled in a space where TV screens, family activities, visitors at the front door and other such distractions are less prominent, it is much easier to maintain a steady, uninterrupted focus on the workday to-do list.
- Establish boundaries: Especially when other family members are also at home during the workday, it is important to lay down some ground rules that minimize productivity-hampering interruptions. Workers should politely (yet firmly) ask that loved ones respect their workspaces and, unless there is truly an emergency, avoid unneeded interactions with them during work hours. It is also reasonable to ask that any potentially distracting activities such as listening to loud music or having high-volume conversations near the workspace be kept to a minimum during work hours.
- Keep IT help handy: Most telecommuting workers’ computers are company-issued because using personal devices for work purposes can often pose security risks. And many at-home workers use a virtual private network (VPN) or a similar setup to remotely access and submit their work-related files and applications. Of course, for devices and systems such as these, it is important to ensure that everything is functioning properly at all times to maintain high levels of productivity, and all of this is generally the territory of the employer’s IT staff or provider. To avoid time-consuming slowdowns, it is a good idea for workers to have their IT contact’s (or contacts’) information readily available at all times. Whether that means workers need to store IT phone numbers in their mobile phones, have IT contacts’ instant messaging (IM) information stored on their computers or simply maintaining a hard-copy list of IT contact information, it can be a big time-saver when troubles arise.
- Tap into technology: The videoconference has become a near-daily occurrence for many of today’s workers, whether they are in the office or working from home. And while most modern computers have built-in cameras, speakers and microphones that can be used for videoconferencing purposes, there can be big advantages gained by upgrading this equipment with higher-end solutions. These devices can support much higher audio and video quality, and, thereby, support clearer communications and understanding during videoconferences. For an add-on tool that delivers an especially high return on investment, there may be no better choice than a professional headset. These tend to be relatively inexpensive, and by using them, workers can gain much more control over their sound quality during video meetings and calls, take big strides toward minimizing background noise during their meetings, and even free their hands for taking notes or typing during calls.
- Ensure optimal internet speeds: As all workers who have suffered through lagging internet connections while on the job can attest, having ample bandwidth is critical to good workday productivity, not to mention ensuring clear communications and understanding during videoconferences and the like. To find out if they have the right speed for their needs, workers can use a tool like the FTC Speed Calculator to determine whether their current internet connection is up to the task, then adjust their plan accordingly to ensure a good connection.
Seeking a better work-from-home experience? Visit ftc.net/services/internet to explore all of FTC’s home internet plans with speeds up to a blazing-fast 1 Gig available. And to learn more about our Voice plans and packages, visit ftc.net/services/voice.
Are you a business owner who could use local, expert IT assistance to support your employees’ ability to productively work from home? Help is nearby and easily accessible, with no costly full-time IT staff required. Visit FTC IT Solutions whenever your business needs professional IT help in a number of tech-related areas, including Managed IT, Cybersecurity, Hosted Services, Point-of-Sale and Hardware Sales.