20 Working From Home Productivity Tips

More and more companies understood that to attract and maintain for longer periods the talents they need for their business to be a competitive one, they have to adjust the working program, to switch towards flexible and remote working hours.

The effectiveness of remote work depends on the nature of the business and individual employee preferences. While some employers believe their workers will be unproductive, while others think employees will be happier and more productive. Working from home has advantages, such as flexibility, but challenges, including distractions and blurred work-life boundaries. In the following lines, we provide the details on maximizing the effectiveness of working from home and making it a pleasing experience.

Working from home can be hugely rewarding for all involved, but only if the employees keep their productivity level up, maintain a healthy work-life balance and nurture business relationships.

Everyone working from home has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between work life and personal life.

Here is our top 20 tips for working from home efficiently, while keeping the boundaries between work and personal life.

1. Maintain regular hours

Set a schedule and try to stick to it. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop helps many workers from home to maintain a work-life balance. Remember, maintaining regular hours requires discipline and self-motivation. It's important to set boundaries and avoid excessive work outside of your designated hours. To achieve better success, consider implementing daily routines, implement daily/weekly planners and commit working within your designated hours.

Image via 99designs

2. Create a morning routine. Get started early

It is very important to create a routine that gets you started in the morning: make a cup of coffee, have breakfast, take a shower, returning home from a jog… whatever ends with you starting work. Believe it or not, one way to work from home productively is to dive into your to-do list as soon as you wake up.

The team at Reclaimai recommends the following Morning routine: 

  • Wake up, drink a bottle of water, and make the bed.
  • 15-minute sun salutation yoga flow and 5-minute meditation on the patio.
  • Coffee and breakfast, reading the newspaper.
  • Get ready for the day.
  • At your WFH desk.
  • Start the workday with a deep work session to maximize productivity!

Image via Reclaimai

3. Set ground rules with people in your space. Close the door

It will be very easy to leave the door to whatever room or space you set apart to be your workplace open. Don't do it. If the door is open, that represents something to you and your family. To you, it represents the idea that if it's a bit tough, or you don't feel like working today, you don't have to. To your family, it represents the idea that you are around, and available.

4. Structure your day as you would be in your office

When working from home, you're your manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus. To stay on schedule, segment what you have to do and when you'll do it over the day.

If you have a daily plan, it's much more effective than just doing random work. You will get closer to your goals faster, see outcomes easier, and the critical tasks will not slip through your fingers. Also, at the end of the day, you can say, wow, what a productive day I had.

When you believe you need some support to achieve more, you can download our free daily planner template to help you get more out of your workday at home.

Download the daily goal planner

Note: If you are looking for a work from home request form, we have an email/letter template that you can use any time you need it.

5. Keep a dedicated working space

Just because you are not working at an office doesn't mean you can't, well, have an office. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch - spaces that are associated with leisure time - dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work. Keep your desk and your working area tidy.

6. Turn off the telephone and social media

Social media is designed to make it easy for you to open and browse quickly. At work, though, this convenience can be the detriment of your productivity. Turn off messengers and email notifications too.

Tip: Stoping distractions is one of the key ideas of our top time management tips, where we go more into details on the essential on how to boost results in less time. Here is just a teaser:
1. Schedule and plan ahead,
2. Use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize Urgent vs. Important,
3. Reduce interruptions,
4. Use the Pomodoro Technique,
5. Track your time,
6. Organize your to-do list,
7. Use the 80/20 Rule.

7. Don't stop working if it's a hard day

There will be times when you haven't got any ideas, or just don't feel productive. Train yourself to do some work anyway. It is a shortfall from "It's just not happening at the moment" to "It's a bit tough, I'll stop for the day". Next thing you know, you never seem to get anything done.

"At the end of the day, you put all the work in, and eventually it'll pay off. It could be in a year, it could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off."" - Kevin Hart

8. Work when you are most productive. Schedule your day around your natural schedule

To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you will be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.

9. Give yourself breaks

Don't be locked in the room all the time. Know your company's policy on break times and take them. For every hour you work, have a 15-30 minute break. Give your mind time to digest what is done, then come back. You will improve the quality of what you produce a hundredfold.

10. Be careful what music you listen to while you work

Music, TV, the weather… Just about everything will influence your mood. Some you can't change, some you can. Make sure that you surround yourself with things that will give you the best frame of mind for whatever you're about to do.

Research showcased that music helps workers be more productive, so here are some ideas of playlists you can close from: 

- Classical. Think about Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven, or Bach. You might like the Sonata for two pianos in D, as much as we do.

- Coffee shop sounds - The soft chatter, jazzy songs, cups clanging, and raindrops will get your brain to get into the zone. And if you want a long song that you can play with such white noise from a Starbucks shop, listen to this

- Ambient music - slow beats (Lofi) are great for relaxation and concentration, according to a recent Spotify survey with 4000 respondents. This Spotify playlist is for you if you’re searching for such sounds 

- Nature sounds to relax your senses and make you feel calmer. Think about ocean waves, birds singing, fire burning, or river-flowing noise. Among our favorites is this tropical beach sound, with an eight-hour video included.

11. Over-communicate. Interact with other human

Working from home requires you to over-communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability. When you finish a project or important task, say it.

Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they're not your coworkers. It is a good idea to see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary.

Tip. If you want to boost the engagement among employees that are working from home, consider organizing virtual team building activities.

12. Make time for people

When people ask, give them what you can. Respond in some way to every email. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get around to it. You don't have to reply to that day. Just make sure you do. It matters.

The employee - manager relationships need to be constantly improved. You need to let your employees feel valued, resolve issues quickly, have 1 to 1 meetings regularly, and give constructive feedback.

If you're a manager, we recommend to check the people management skills article, where we detail the abilities needed to be successful in working with demanding employees.

13. Prepare your meals the night before

When you're in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself. Don't use precious minutes making your food the day of work, cook it the night before.

Preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat, and that you aren't performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.

14. Pick a definitive finish time each time

Set an alarm at the end of the day to indicate your normal workday is coming to an end. You don't have to stop at exactly that time, but knowing the workday is technically over can help you start the process of saving your work and calling it quits for the evening.

15. Commit to doing more

Projects always take longer than you initially think they will. For that reason, you'll frequently get done less than you set out to do. So, just as you're encouraged to overestimate how much time you will spend doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you'll do during the day. Even if you come up short of your goal, you'll still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under 'complete.'

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” —Mark Twain

16. Keep a notepad and pencil nearby

Write down ideas for blog posts, projects, anything that springs to mind. Then have a pinboard to stick them on. Look at it twice a week to refresh your mind of things that could be done sometime. Some of the best work you will ever do will come from random bits of inspiration.

17. Don't go back to work when you've finished

Did you just have a great idea for a post? Fantastic, write down the basics on a note, and pin it up. Don't turn on your computer if it's not crucial, once you've finished your day.

18. Know when to stop

Don't work late into the night. Set defined times when you are going to work, and then when it passes, stop. Even if you don't stop right away, but make sure that you don't end up letting work run your life.

19. Don't be hard on yourself

The most successful employees working from home have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. But everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and booking flights for your upcoming vacation the next, don't be too hard on yourself: allow yourself this break and then get back to work.

20. End your day with a routine

Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the end of the workday. It might be a sign-off, an evening dog walk, or a snack with the family. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.

Benefits of working from home

The numbers are speaking for themselves: there is no doubt that “working from home” gains more attention in the current working world.

For most people, working from home is seen as an employee benefit, with workers gaining more from flexible working arrangements than employers. Next, we will emphasize the benefits that working from home can bring for all involved.

Benefits for the employee

Many employees value flexibility in their working arrangements for several reasons, often depending on their circumstances and priorities.

Healthier Choices And Lifestyle

This is the most common answer when people are asked why they like to work from home. Eating healthier, being able to go to the gym or to take a walk, taking breaks when they are needed help the employee working from home to relax and relieve the stress; thus, when he/ she is back to work, is more focused and therefore more productive.

Another stress-related factor that disappears when working from home is the commute. Many employees get to work already frustrated after spending precious time getting there. For employees who work far from the office, cutting out the commute can make a world of difference for their stress and overall health.

Increased Flexibility As A Parent

The parents represent one common group that chooses to work from home instead of other benefits.

Working at home allows parents to be a part of their children's routines throughout the day; not just early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Working from home, parents can take a lunch break with the toddler, hear all the day's news when they get home from school, and so much more. Of course, working from home parents don't have unlimited time with their kids, but they do have more frequent opportunities to be with their children. Working from home also saves money on childcare costs for children who are not yet school age.

Money Savings

There has been a lot of discussion in the flexible job market about how working from home will save money. According to flexijobs.com, the average person can save at least about $4,000 per year by working remotely, by eliminating the costs with:

  • gas consumption;
  • car maintenance;
  • dry cleaning and laundering;
  • lunches & coffees;
  • office wardrobe;
  • tax.

Benefits for the employers

Besides being an effective talent recruiting and retention tool, letting employees work from home can save employers money in myriad ways.

Increased productivity

Employees working from home have greater autonomy, face fewer interruptions with useless meetings and other time wasters and they can focus on their work.

They often have higher morale and enjoy their job responsibilities more than those in a traditional office environment. Increased morale often has a positive impact on the quality of work and productivity, which benefits the business in terms of bottom-line earnings.

Reduced costs

The advantages of working from home can be easily observed in the office-related cost reductions. The company providing work from home for its employees is cutting the costs with office spaces, rents, office supplies, utilities, snacks, IT equipment.

Hiring the best, no matter where they are located

Opening the talent pool seems to be one of the biggest employer benefits when it comes to working from home policy. Allowing employees to work from home, a company can hire the best of the best while not limiting by geographical restrictions.

Increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover

This helps companies cultivate long-term staff that develops an increasing degree of knowledge about your business. Greater employee loyalty also means less time and money spent advertising for open positions, screening, interviewing and hiring new staffers and bringing them up to speed on job responsibilities.

Working from home makes employees happier. Happy employees don't quit. Simple logic.

Tip: Now since you know the benefits of working from home, you might be interested to discuss with your people about flexibility within the working hours.

Environmental impact

Employees who work from home often communicate with colleagues and managers via email, telephone, and videoconferences, reducing paper consumption. And if you want to become paperless, we have a solid set of recommendations on the topic.

Conducting virtual meetings and facilitating communication electronically helps protect the environment through reduced automobile emissions. This helps the environment and can allow you to position your business as a good corporate steward.

Work From Home FAQ

What are some common work-from-home jobs?

Many tasks can now be completed from home just as efficiently as they do in an office. Here are a few choices for remote employment:

  • Virtual assistants
  • Specialists in social media
  • Translators / Transcriptionist
  • Content writers
  • Consultants
  • Book-keepers
  • Video producers/editors
  • Personnel that provide customer service
  • Data transcribing/data interpretation
  • Online teachers and coaches
  • Coders/developers.

Wrapping up

Of course, there are other types of leave of absence options beside those presented in this guide that you can offer to your employees, but at the end of day, it is very important that your company's goals meet the employee's need.

While employee absence can have huge impacts on a business, and despite an employer's best efforts at minimizing the time employees spend away from work, life happens, and it is inevitable that employees will find themselves in circumstances that require them to take some time off work.

Knowing the situations when you are required to grant your employees a leave of absence not only helps to keep your employees loyal, happy and productive, it can also keep you from finding yourself and your company facing costly legal suits for not complying with regulations pertaining to employee leave of absence.

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