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Working from home tips for productivity and well-being

Working from home is hugely salient now with many of us having to become rapidly acquainted with how to implement, manage, and use it.

As well as mastering the technology, we’re also having to adapt and pivot key elements of business, including: working practices, communications, and maintaining team morale. It’s also important not to overlook our own well-being.

Here are some tips for those working from home:

Working from home technology tips

  • Using video conferencing to communicate with staff, customers, suppliers, even prospects, is the most effective way of replacing face-to-face contact (and many of us are quickly becoming familiar with it)
  • MicrosoftTeams and Zoom are popular packages. Another is GoToMeeting. Those you invite to a meeting don’t need to have the package themselves, they simply receive a link from you
  • If employees are accessing your intranet or sensitive files you might want to install a VPN
  • Remember, this is currently the new normal, many of us are doing it - you are not alone.

Working practice and productivity

  • Prepare a To Do list the night before
  • Maintain regular hours and have a schedule and routine, block out chunks of time to get specific tasks done
  • Start the day on time – consider a morning routine that helps you achieve this
  • Dress as usual (or at least get dressed!)
  • Create a dedicated workspace where disruption is minimised and where you are comfortable - whatever’s best for you, but lounging on sofas or in bed is usually not ideal – this helps with productivity and mindset, and also switching off at the end of the day
  • Agree ground rules with the rest of your household to minimise disturbances
  • When preparing for a meeting, either video or on the phone, try to have a few minutes to prepare and focus
  • Don’t send too many emails – use the phone or online chat (keeps you connected, keeps energy up, your messages won’t get ‘lost’)
  • Change things that are not working for you (or your team) – this may all be new to you and them, the first way you approach things might not be the best

Support your staff/team

  • Frequent communication – consider a daily catch up (perhaps an hour into the day when individuals have dealt with priorities, emails, etc.)
  • On group calls, have structure and a chairperson (to avoid people talking over each other) and consider circulating an agenda and using an icebreaker to start
  • Consider rotating the chair and including one small ‘personal’ item from them to help with team morale (e.g. best thing personally that happened yesterday, photos, etc.)
  • If not having a formal daily video meeting, consider a quick video catch up with your team, an informal chat to maintain social contact
  • Make sure everyone has everything they need – paper, pens, ink jet cartridges, etc; suggest they check; order them in
  • Lead effectively – be proactive, keep your team up-to-date, be sensitive to challenges of employees working from home

Look after your well-being

  • Schedule breaks – short ones (say 5 minutes every half hour) and a good lunch break that you keep to …
  • … remember to eat properly – it can be easy to forget (especially when you can’t just pop to the sandwich shop)
  • Get outside, exercise – fresh air away from your computer, a short walk
  • Set boundaries – avoid work life blurring into home or family life
  • Keep in touch with your support network – this is not a time to be alone or feeling isolated
  • Make the most of the additional time you’re likely to have with immediate family

If you're interested in more tips as a business owner during this period, check our support and advice for small business owners during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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