The best practices to utilize to be more productive when working from home are to designate a workstation, establish boundaries with family or roommates, plan for IT needs and use apps designed to maintain connections with staff and customers. While remote work might sound like an excellent option for many workers, it can be difficult for some to adjust to a work-from-home schedule without proper planning. But by giving staff proper guidance, support and tools, an employer can make working from home even more productive for employees. These five steps will help work-from-home staff stay on task and boost their productivity:
1. Maintain a Dedicated Work Area
By creating a workspace in a lightly trafficked room, workers can tamp down the distractions of home life. It is much easier to maintain a steady, uninterrupted focus on the workday to-do list when working from an isolated, clutter-free workspace that is removed from TV screens, family activities, visitors and other distractions.
2. Establish Boundaries With Family and Roommates
It is important to lay down some ground rules with family and roommates to minimize productivity-hampering interruptions. Workers should 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.
3. Plan for and Use IT Services
Companies can save time and boost productivity by planning around the IT needs of work-from-home staff. Without proper planning, a small IT hiccup can become a major obstacle.
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) to remotely access and submit their work-related files and applications. Whether using a VPN or another connection, it is important for the company’s IT staff or IT provider to keep everything functioning properly at all times to maintain high levels of productivity. Managers should provide their IT contacts’ phone numbers and email addresses to their work-from-home staff to avoid slowdowns.
4. Use Communication and Project-Tracking Apps
New apps are launched every day designed to help staff better communicate and manage projects and progress. Zoom, Slack and Teams are just a few of the apps made to keep employees connected via instant messages and video calls, and, as a result, speed up progress.
In particular, videoconferences have 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, big advantages can be gained by upgrading this equipment with higher-end alternatives. These devices can support much higher audio and video quality and thus support clearer communications and understanding during videoconferences. For an add-on tool that delivers an especially high return on investment, there might be no better choice than professional headsets. 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 and take big strides toward minimizing background noise.
5. Ensure Optimal Internet Speeds
As all workers who have suffered through lagging internet connections on the job can attest, having ample bandwidth is critical to good workday productivity. Using work apps and files like videoconferencing and uploading large documents can strain slower internet connections and slow down productivity. 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 existing internet connection is up to the task and then they can adjust their plan accordingly to ensure a good connection.
Does Working From Home Increase Productivity?
Whether working from home increases productivity depends on the individual workers and their ability to create a structured work environment. Just about anyone can be successful in a work-from-home situation and managers can further ensure success by providing structure, tools and resources to their employees as they would in an office setting. Above all, workers and managers must optimize communication before they can increase productivity at home.
How To Stay Focused While Working From Home
The best way to keep your focus at home is to create a dedicated workspace isolated from distractions that can occur in the rest of the house. While a kitchen counter might be an attractive place to work, kitchens are often the center of activity in the home and can be a source of constant distraction. Instead, designate a corner in a quiet common room or even a bedroom to use as an isolated workstation.
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