The interest in working from home has steadily increased throughout the years, with a whopping 63 percent of companies reporting that remote workers were among their ranks in 2018. Fast forward to 2021, and working from home has become a vital way of life for many people in America and abroad amid a pandemic. 

While some believe that working remotely can make an individual more productive, those currently experiencing the shift may disagree and find it more challenging than they ever thought. There are many questions surrounding working from home that people are answering at an accelerated rate, and it can sometimes become overwhelming if you don’t have the proper practices in place. 

How do you stay focused during the day with increased downtime? How do you collaborate with co-workers? How do you dress? This guide will cover some of the basics and provide you with tools to execute your workday in a professional and fulfilling way. We also hope that it encourages you to share these practices with fellow co-workers to help make each day a little easier.  

Is Working from Home Here to Stay? 

This quarantine will eventually end, but will remote work stick around long-term? 

People all around the world are quarantined due to the rapidly-spreading virus known as COVID-19. COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It’s thought to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s believed that COVID-19 can transfer more easily when people are in close contact with one another. Protocols have been put in place to practice safe social distancing, which, in the United States, includes putting people under mandatory Stay at Home orders. 

Many people whose jobs are considered non-essential are required to work from home for the first time. While it’s been an unexpected adjustment, many employees want the option to keep working from home after states lift Stay at Home orders. In recent years, employees have increasingly sought out positions that provide the option to work from home so they can find a better work-life balance. According to Unum’s top non-insurance benefits for U.S. workers, 30% of 1,512 working adults found that flexible and remote working options are the main benefit they sought in 2019. 

While it’s too early to tell if working from home will be as relevant in the future, it has shown that businesses can remain resilient in unforeseen circumstances and gives people a choice in when, where, and how they work. The work practices unfolding during the pandemic are one big and unexpected experiment that both employers and employees are taking one day at a time. 

How Do You Stay Productive While Working from Home? 

Many employees experienced a complete change in their work routines overnight. Their workday went from commuting to their office in their car to walking from their bedroom, to their coffee maker, to their kitchen table. While many people enjoy the benefits of working from home, there are also just as many challenges. 

Here are a few ways to create and maintain a routine, which can help you become more productive throughout the workday: 

  • Do not work from your bed. Set up an area that’s a dedicated working space, so you do not start to feel as though you’re always at work. 
  • Follow your usual routine. Following your daily routine will give you a sense of control during a time when you feel as though you’re lacking it. Feeling as though you’re in control will allow you to remain confident to tackle any hurdle the workday might throw at you. 
  • Start with challenging tasks. Do not start your day with easy tasks. In the morning and early afternoon, you’re performing at your best. Tackle the work that requires your attention and creativity. Do not use small tasks as fillers, use them as “easy” ways to end the workday. 
  • Take a lunch break. Taking breaks is a key part of remaining productive. It’s easy to get stir-crazy and when this begins to happen, take a small break to eat a snack or go for a walk to get your creative juices flowing again. When you do not take a break, it’s easy to get burnt out, which can lead to procrastination. 

How Do You Dress While Working at Home? 

When working from home for an extended period of time, it can be easy to fall into a uniform of sweatpants and oversized t-shirts. While there is nothing wrong with relaxing your style, some people dress up to maintain a sense of normalcy. This is especially true during high-stress times, such as what we are all currently experiencing with COVID-19. 

Since your normal routine is interrupted when you work from home, it’s recommended that you dress up for work to help you feel as though you’re keeping up with that routine. Your routine will allow you to maintain a sense of control when it feels as though you have none. Lacking a sense of control can lead to feeling stressed. Stress can cause anxiety, which sometimes cripples your ability to stay productive during the workday. 

Staying productive is one of the main concerns both employers and employees have regarding working from home permanently. Since many people would like the ability to continue working from home, wearing business attire can help you remain productive, which proves to your workplace that you can continue to produce results. Researchers have also found that people feel more competent when they wear business clothes, which can lead to increased confidence outside the office.

Communicate Clearly for Best Results

Communication is one aspect of workplace culture that takes a hit during a mandatory lockdown. When in doubt, always over-communicate with your team about any project, task, or concern. When working from home, we do not have the same instant gratification in receiving answers on the spot like we do in the office. We also can’t see or hear how we’re communicating with one another. Instead, we’re speaking through email, text, or communication platforms like Slack, which reduces the quality of our messages. Sometimes, this leads to miscommunication between team members because we often miss context in plain text. 

Over-communicating is always better than making assumptions. Let your coworkers know what your daily tasks are so they have an idea of how often you’ll be available to help them. Don’t be shy about telling a team member that you’re working on a monthly report so you won’t be able to answer them right away. Let your manager know that the graphic you’re working on is taking longer than expected. Remember to communicate even the smallest of details, so there are no surprises. 

If an issue arises that you don’t feel confident handling, or you get behind on a project, don’t feel as though you need to figure it out on your own. Schedule a video call to discuss it “face-to-face” with your teammates and talk as you would in the office. You’ll get a clear answer, needed support, and some social engagement.

Conclusions on Working from Home

Adjusting to a new work situation can be scary and stressful but it does not have to be this way. Working from home can be a stress-free, productive experience, but you need to make sure you have the correct practices in place. As long as you and your team remain aligned and focused, working from home can be just as productive as being in the office. The entire leadership team remains committed to you and your staff while making sure we’re adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Our team at Market My Market is here for you!