Work from home best practices
Young man talking on the phone in his home office

This week, an increasing number of businesses are shifting to remote work arrangements. While some of us are already acquainted with this set up, there’s a possibility that a huge number of professionals are doing it for the first time. Thankfully, Industry 4.0 accommodates this arrangement perfectly and allows us to meet any challenges related to working from home adequately.

Cutting down on commute time, not getting distracted by a chatty coworker, being able to dodge office celebrations when deadlines are tight – the benefits of working from home are many. However, the best of all, is probably the fact that it lets you steer clear of notorious traffic and tiring preparatory routines. In fact, it actually offers you a genuine chance to be more productive, both professionally and personally.

Working from home can be fun… until it is not!

You might have successfully avoided workplace distractions, but that’s not to say you have avoided them altogether. Distractions at home can spring from any corner, at any time. The lack of workplace rules or obligations can be as disconcerting as it is liberating. How do you deal with such situations, especially if you are the one causing it?

As a former freelancer management adviser myself, I strongly abide by the following tips and tricks to manage remote work scenarios. Here’s how to not lose it while working from home:

1. Compartmentalise Your Space

Having a specific space for work is the best way to isolate yourself from regular household distractions. The significance of the space you occupy works both ways, it is reflective of your mood while also affecting it. If you are not able to manage a home office (a separate room dedicated for work), even a work desk will go a long way. Keeping your personal and professional spaces separate will help you stay focused. Organisation is key, so declutter your desk and organise your work essentials. Make sure all your devices have full battery capacity to avoid running out of battery in case of a power cut. Additionally, keep your power and network backup supports ready. Afterall, you don’t want to go offline when everyone in the team is trying to reach you.

home office for work from home

2. Stick to a Schedule

Don’t toss your schedule out of the window just because you are working from home. Going into the day with a plan of action and a timeframe in mind will help you be more productive. Don’t keep snoozing your alarm because you know you don’t have to rush through the traffic. Start off early in the morning when your energy levels are high. Write down your core deliverables for the day for a better clarity and course of action. Design your day by following a task/timeline routine. There’s no better reassurance than to tick items off your task list.

3. Netflix isn’t White Noise

We know work from home can get a little lonely. We know white noise helps you shut off distractions. Unfortunately, Netflix ain’t the answer. C’mon, it’ll be a real shame if you seriously considered all the award winning content on Netflix (and Prime) to be whitenoise. Subscription based entertainment is as distracting as television or social media, so stay clear off them until you are done with your work. Here’s an idea, let getting back to your favourite show be an incentive to finish off your work in time. 

cut from from distractions while working from home

4. Allow Yourself Regular Breaks

Breaks are important, probably more so when you are working from home. These breaks might not allow you to socialise with your coworkers but it more than compensates by giving you a chance to spend time with your family . However, you need to schedule them properly to optimise the work/break ratio. Whether it is the lunch break, petting your furry friend, or tending to your plants, regular breaks will rejuvenate you for the next work session.

5. Set Boundaries

Be careful as to not overdo the breaks. It’s very easy to get distracted while working from home, especially if you are staying with your family. Don’t mix chores with professionals commitments. Understand and define your own boundaries while interacting with family and pets. Work-from-home isn’t quite so if it doesn’t allow you flexibility. Be smart about it to increase your professional and personal productivity.

6. Communicate Well with the Team

Communication is king when you work from home. A daily huddle with the team before you start your day’s work is the best way to ensure you are on the same page with them. As part of the work-from-home ethics, you are always expected to be available on the office communicator and your work phone. You will need to put an extra emphasis on communication to compensate for your physical absence while working from home. It’s good to choose phone conversations over emails. Even while writing emails, always be considerate of your recipient’s current disposition. In case of a disagreement, draft your email with kind words. A little support goes a long way.

7. Know Your Tools

There are a number of trustworthy tools that you can use to stay on top of your work-from-home game. Whether it is office communications, work management, or time management, there’s a tool for all your work-from-home requirements.

  • Slack: Use it for internal team communication, sharing files and more
  • Trello: Track the progress on your individual projects, tasks and stay updated on team projects   
  • Toggl: Track your productivity and optimise your time management
  • Google Suite: Use it for excel sheets, word files, presentations and more. Collaborate with multiple teammates on the files directly without starting cumbersome email threads. 

Giant companies like Google and Microsoft are already offering their tools for free to help other companies make working from home more effective. 

8. Share Daily Task Reports

Create and share a daily task report with the team to ensure transparency. Daily reports will help the entire team to stay updated on the progress of any project and identify bottlenecks in time. It will also help you document your own work for future reference.

9. Stay Positive

Working from home has several challenges which can often lead to miscommunications, unclear instructions, work not getting delivered on time. Try to stay calm and push through these boundaries. Getting perturbed will not help in any way but might affect your and your coworker’s morale in a negative way. Compassion is the best way to navigate through the possible hurdles. Once you have an understanding of what’s causing the delay or failure, try to help the team to resolve it. Staying positive through complications is not the best way but the only way to move forward with your team.

10. Use Your Time to Upskill

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Italy, US, several European countries, and Asian countries including India is taking all the precautionary means to prevent further contamination.

Most companies are asking their employees to work from home – which leaves you with more time for your personal development. Utilise this time to develop a new skill. Not only will learning a new cognitive skill keep your mind occupied constructively but also add another feather in your cap by the time you join back office.

Artificial intelligence has proved to be an asset in such difficult times for humanity. Read how AI is helping in detecting and preventing the spread of the Coronavirus

Upskill in this domain to unlock its potential and create new opportunities for yourself and the disruptive economy with Great Learning’s PGP-AIML course

You can also choose from other domains to create your own niche. Great Learning offers courses on all the major technologies like:

These are testing times, and we need to act responsibly to bring out the best in each of us. I hope these tips will help you manage your work seamlessly and meet the challenges associated with working from home. Let us know if you are facing any other issues while working from home in the comments section and we will be sure to help you. 


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