A request to work from home (WFH) was once met with a roll of the eyes. Managers felt that employees working from home would simply not be as productive as they would be if they were working from the office.
This judgment has certainly been put to this year, as COVID-related restrictions have forced companies to accept the reality that their employees will need to WFH.
While articles quickly sprung up about how to be productive in the wake of forced WFH, it’s never a bad idea to revisit this topic several months into the pandemic. Are you utilizing any of these to be more productive?
No, this does not necessarily mean work in your pajamas in bed—though some claim this does make them more productive.
Getting comfy means creating a workspace that makes you comfortable. This includes choosing the right size chair and desk, in addition to figuring out desk height, light, proximity to windows, and other factors in your workspace that you feel will help you do your best work. A comfortable space can be a productive space.
Getting comfy also doesn’t necessarily mean wearing clothes that you would never be able to wear at the office.
Work culture website The Muse suggests dressing professionally even though you have to WFH. Dressing the part can help get you into the mindset of work; as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about changing clothes in the middle of the day to join a Zoom call.
Talk to the team—regularly.
While some work-related tasks require intense focus and concentration—making such tasks perfect for WFH—many do not.
Indeed, some tasks require creativity, and collaboration might just do the trick to nurture such creativity. Be sure to stay focused during regularly scheduled meetings during which the creative elements of a project can be discussed.
As a surprise bonus: ask the team for only 15 minutes of their time. Keeping meetings to a specific and short timebox can be an impressive way to stay productive.
But wait, are you being too productive?
Turns out, that some folks who WFH end up being too productive—meaning, they do not know when to turn off the laptop or silence their phones.
In an article about WFH productivity, it’s worth noting that balance is key. If employees are working too much or too hard, they will quickly get burned out and not be productive at all.
What are some ways to prevent burnout in a WFH environment?
Maintain separate devices.
This is more than simply being logged in to your social networks on your phone and not on your laptop browser. Maintain separate devices for your different identities: have one PC or laptop for work and another for personal use or fun.
Some employers provide work laptops for their employees so that they can WFH. If yours does not, ask if they can compromise in some way, perhaps by allowing you to use their corporate purchasing discount or extending you a loan so you can purchase a new computer for work. (And of course, make sure to keep your receipts so you can claim this on your taxes.)
Set aside time to check and respond to email.
As we’ve written previously in Smart Filters, our blog on email productivity, this is perhaps one of the more effective ways to prevent distractions during the day. Focus on how you can optimize your inbox by turning off or snoozing email alerts on your desktop/laptop/work computer AND even your phone. Minimizing your interruptions and distractions can do wonders for maintaining focus and productivity.
The best way to be more productive with email is to put your email on autopilot by taking advantage of InMoat’s Smart Filtering technology. Stopping unwanted and unsolicited emails will help you keep an organized inbox while not having to worry about Inbox Zero and focus more on Inbox Zero-Distractions.
Then, block off a certain amount of time when you are going to read and respond to those emails that you find important. Productivity expert Celestine Chua even suggests setting a limit for the time you spend in your inbox so you can get through emails as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Turn off alerts – all of them.
We’ve mentioned turning off email alerts, but all alerts should be turned off during the workday. Most productivity, communications, and project management platforms have alerts set up by default, so you will be pinged incessantly every time there has been an update or change to the project you’re working on. Many times, these are also pushed to email—and with email alerts turned on—you are pinged multiple times needlessly, especially if that platform is on both your desktop and phone.
Obviously, these software creators want their programs to be as visible and noisy as possible, but to keep things under control, find a way to minimize the alerts, or turn them off altogether.
The year ahead
WFH will be the new normal for the foreseeable future. Indeed, according to CNBC.com, COVID has served as the “wake-up call” to enact this change.
While some companies might publish internal tips to help workers feel more comfortable and be more productive while working from home, the truth is that it’s up to individual employees to find the perfect mix of strategies that enable them to work from home successfully while not overburdening themselves at the same time.
What can we expect from email moving forward?
It’s time email considered getting back to its roots.
It’s not going away anytime soon. It’s still a personalized, one-to-one communication method that people feel ownership of and connected to.
Email just needs a way to become more effective and efficient. It needs to be more intuitive with Smart Filters that grow with a user, so users can find and read the most important messages quickly. Users simply want more control, convenience, and inbox management.
InMoat helps them achieve this.