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How To Stay Productive and Sane While Working From Home: 5 Tips From Our Remote Employees

by Celtx

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding the concept of working from home as of late. As organizations make preparations to shift their workforce to remote status, concerns do arise about how working from home will affect their employees’ productivity and morale.

Celtx is a company that thrives on collaboration, and we know it can seem frustrating, inconvenient, and straight up nerve-racking when the entire team is working in separate spaces. We’re here to put your mind at ease.

The Celtx Team, especially our remote teammates, have tons of experience with working from home while keeping things collaborative and communicating efficiently. With Snowmageddon in our not-so-distant past, we’re positive that our advice will prove useful to you and your team if you find yourselves making the transition from #officelife to setting up in your spare bedrooms.

ONE: START YOUR DAY THE RIGHT WAY

If you roll out of bed and pour yourself directly into your emails, it’ll be 3PM before you realize that you haven’t brushed your teeth and are still wearing a housecoat.

Our Team’s Advice:

Wake up and go about your morning routine as though you’re going to leave the house. Don’t deny yourself the joy of working in your pyjamas every now and then, but it’s best to stick to a morning ritual: have breakfast, get dressed, establish a few goals of things you want to accomplish during the day, and write them down. Refer back to your goals during breaks throughout the day and make sure you’re staying on track.

TWO: STRUCTURE YOUR TIME

When working from home, it can be super tempting to try to mix all of your domestic activities with your work activities. You may feel like you can take ten minutes from whatever it is you’re doing in that spreadsheet to do some laundry or sweep up the kitchen.

Don’t do this.

Our Team’s Advice:

Structure good, solid working blocks. We’re talking three to four hours where the only thing you focus on is the work you have to do. When you take breaks during this time, don’t start doing household chores. Actually take work breaks: breathe, stretch, and take some time to look away from your screen.

TL;DR: Structure your time to resemble that of your normal office schedule.

THREE: SET BOUNDARIES

If you find yourself starting to work from your couch, pretty soon your couch won’t feel as relaxing. If you start working at your kitchen table, over time you’ll get annoyed when the kids want to sit there. If you have the ability to establish a designated working area, do so. Much like setting up boundaries for your time, you can also set boundaries for your space.

After an eight hour work day in the comfort of your own home, it’s going to be difficult to switch into home mode if you haven’t physically changed your location. You’ll find yourself carrying a lot of that work with you into the sacred time meant for decompression and relaxation. The opposite is also true; if you’re working directly in front of the television where you usually play video games, guess what you’ll probably end up doing….

…playing video games.

Our Team’s Advice:

Having separate spaces and environments, even material objects like clothes or coffee mugs, that are designated for work time will help you better separate your professional life from your home life.

These boundaries are important! Not being able to separate yourself from your work will lead to burnout, especially when you’re changing your routine. Remember, dealing with change can make people cranky and irritable, even if they’re not aware of it. Establishing healthy boundaries and routines will help cope with that.

FOUR: VIDEO CONFERENCING

Video conferencing with more than one or two people can become difficult and stressful. Being on a video call and experiencing an audible or visual lag of anywhere from 1.5 – 3 seconds can make irritation and interruption much more likely. In person, we try to be considerate and not interrupt. On a video call, it can be extremely hard to avoid.

Our Team’s Advice

If you find that someone is interrupting you a lot while on a call, it might be because you’re not providing them with opportunities to speak. This might be because you’re missing the cues and body language that indicate they want to say something, which you would normally see in-person and would naturally respond to by pausing and listening.

As mentioned before, changes in routine, new experiences, and stress can all make people more grumpy. Conference calls are an excellent opportunity for that grumpiness to be spread around to everyone. Keep patience and kindness top-of-mind during this time.

Remember: you’re all on the same team, and you all have shared goals. No one on your team is obstructionist or doing anything other than trying their best. A great way to not let this negatively affect your productivity is to extend a lot of kindness and good cheer to your teammates.

FIVE: COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Last but certainly not least.

Something that teams might not appreciate while in their workspaces is just how much work gets done through ambient office interaction. A lot can happen when you bump into someone in the hall, talk in the kitchen, or go for lunch.

There’s two important points wrapped up in this observation:

  1. Ambient office interaction encourages and supports productivity.
  2. Ambient office interaction is how many people achieve social belonging.

A lot of work happens when two people are standing around and talking in the hallway, and that’s something that people who are working from home miss out on.

Our Team’s Advice:

Make checking in with remote teammates a regular part of your day. It’s not possible to replace bumping into someone and having an impromptu brainstorm session, but touching base frequently keeps the avenues of communication open.

The second part might be a little more personal, and maybe a little bit more emotional than we’re used to when we talk about work, but we do think it’s important: most people need some kind of social interaction and a sense of belonging to feel like they’re impacting the environment around them.

Checking in with each other is a way of making your teammates feel like they’re still valued and important contributors whose expertise is being listened to. It also helps in maintaining overall morale and productivity.

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