01 Jun 5 Tips for Optimizing Effectiveness While Working from Home
Due to the current global pandemic, life as we know it has changed significantly. Many companies have tried to abide by physical distancing measures while ensuring that operations continue as normal by adopting a working from home model. DPRA Canada recognizes that the shift from working in office to working from home comes with some changes and potentially, some challenges. Even for those who have experienced working from home, the current global context may disrupt existing routines due to the enforced measures of physical distancing and the current state of emergency across provinces and Territories. This has the potential to completely restructure the work-life flow and essentially cuts off any face-to-face interaction with those outside of the home.
Given the nature of our consulting work, the DPRA team has experience working remotely both with our clients and with our peers. This experience has prepared our team to be able to work from home during this time of physical distancing. While many organizations and individuals are adapting to working from home routines, DPRA is sharing our tips that we promote internally for optimizing effectiveness while working from home.
- Establishing a Routine
Establishing a routine while working from home is critical. If your employer expects you to be responsive and engaged during specific hours, it is important to structure your day to meet these expectations. On the other hand, if you no longer must follow a strict 9-5 schedule, it is crucial for you to set boundaries around this and continue to assign particular hours for working. When we set specific work hours, we create a clear division between which hours are for working and which hours are for the other parts of our day such as eating, socializing, and recreation.
To organize our schedule and set goals for the week, it is useful to use a planner. In addition to scheduling tasks and projects in the planner, it is also useful to schedule breaks. When we schedule breaks we are more likely to actually take them and research shows that breaks make us more focused and productive.
- Creating Functional Workspaces
It can become difficult to effectively work from home without an adequate workspace. If possible, it is important to set up physical boundaries for your office space. If a closed off area is not accessible, it is important to dedicate a space where you feel comfortable and can “walk away” from at the end of the day. Setting up your office space somewhere with good natural light is useful because it can significantly improve wellness and overall productivity. If you don’t have many windows you can reflect light by rearranging furniture, hanging up mirrors/pictures and/or painting the walls a lighter colour.
Additionally, it is important to have the right software and equipment to adequately carry out the work. If you need a certain computer, screen, or software, it is important to talk to your boss to see what options are available.
- Connecting with Colleagues
Interacting and collaborating with colleagues is an important element of the office environment. Communicating with colleagues can help us to feel connected with our jobs and with a few small modifications, you can establish some fun activities to stay in touch with colleagues while working from home. In order to maintain team cohesion; it may be useful to have a “team chat” application that enables colleagues to send simple – less formal messages between one another (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, etc.)
Additionally, if you previously had team rituals and routines such as taking a coffee break together, it might be nice to schedule a weekly virtual coffee date where you can both drink your homemade hot drinks together on a video call and have a quick chat.
- Stretching and Movement
Working from home, and physical distancing, often leads to an overall decrease in physical movement. When we sit or stand at our desks for long periods, our bodies may become stiff and sore, especially if we don’t have a proper desk chair at home. It is important to make time to move your body: stretch, stand up, and walk around. Research finds that sitting for long periods of time has many health risks associated with it such as obesity and high blood pressure. The muscles that are most affected by long periods of sitting include, hip flexors, hamstrings, neck, back, and calf muscles. If we don’t make the time to stretch these muscles during the day, our muscles may develop adaptive shortening in the long term which will reduce flexibility and range of motion.
Other types of movement are important too; when we exercise we stimulate flow in the body which leads to hyperoxygenation in the brain which can increase energy and attentiveness. Types of movement that can stimulate the body at home may include walking up the stairs, standing during meetings, taking a pet for a walk, or walking to a further bathroom. Because as a population, we are generally moving less during this global pandemic, it is important to intentionally build movement into your new routine.
- Setting Clear Boundaries
When your office is doubling as your home, it can sometimes be difficult to set clear boundaries for yourself to maintain focus and productivity. As mentioned previously, having a routine is important, especially for creating boundaries. It is important to work during the hours you have planned and once you are finished your day it is vital to “clock out” so that you are able to find a healthy work/life balance. Stepping out of work-mode is important for mental health and sustaining long-term motivation.
It is also important to make time for a proper lunch break. It might be easy to walk into your kitchen, grab something and head back to your workstation, however, it is important to allow yourself proper downtime during the day in order to stay motivated. When we set clear boundaries for ourselves, we are far more likely to have a better work/life balance and to be productive during our work hours.
During these uncertain times, DPRA Canada remains committed to serving our clients while respecting physical distancing and continuing to work remotely. Our organization has been working tirelessly to ensure that our clients have extra support during this difficult time. Please visit www.dpra.ca to learn more about the services we provide and call us toll free at 1-800-661-8437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.