Staying Productive While Working at Home During COVID-19

The trend of remote work from home has grown by 92% in the last five years. With COVID-19 (Coronavirus) working from home is now a necessity to help flatten the curve. Most people who find themselves working from home are probably not accustomed to the challenges and opportunities that remote working has to offer.

Remote working jobs before COVID-19 already had the tools in place for you to be productive; however, a work environment that needs to make the switch might require adaptation to their current IT infrastructure.

We will take a look at what steps your company may be required to take and answer some of the web’s most searched questions.

  • How to stay focused and productive at work
  • How to work from home without distractions
  • How to stay productive at home

I want to preface that everyone is different, and some of these techniques might not be the best for you or unavailable. What is important is that you find strategies that work for you when working from home.

Work Environment/Setup

The first question you might ask is how not to get distracted while working from home. Social Distancing is the whole reason why you’re working from home in the first place. Continuation of social distancing theme inside the home is required for productivity.

The bonus is that you actually will escape some of the traditional office distractions; unfortunately, you will find new ones when working from home remotely.

cross-section of an average home
mom working from home with distracting kids and pets

Find a secluded space in which you can isolate yourself from your relatives but, most importantly, your furry friends. Make sure you have the conversation with your kids about when they can interrupt you when your working and set boundaries (This can be a lot harder said then done).

I know personally if I didn’t close my door, I would have my dog’s nose trying to lift my arm, as he is always demanding pets.

Take the time to set up your space. Having a clean, organized work environment improves productivity and helps you stay focused. Many studies and research shows that clutter can make it hard for you to focus on the task at hand.

Hand of a woman wiping work desk, close-up.
a office desktop with two monitors. Could be described as a battle-station.
Utilize spare monitors that are available to you. Having multiple monitors has been shown to boost productivity, especially for technical skills like web development. Don Reisinger wrote a great article about why multiple monitors increased his productivity and backed it up with evidence.
This one might be harder for some people. Run a physical Ethernet cable for internet (The significant other in your life might not like this one if it requires a cord through the living room). When working from home, you are often connected to a lot of your companies infrastructure remotely, whether it is through a VPN or web portal. WiFi tends to be unreliable for a consistent connection, especially if your whole family is at home using the network. In the end, you don’t want the microwave disconnecting you from your remote work server or the interference from you twenty WiFi sources in your apartment building. If you cant run a dedicated Ethernet and live a densely populated area with lots of WiFi connections then changing your routers channel or investing in Dual/Tri-Band router can help.

 

Blue Snowflake mic and Logitech Webcam

Make sure you have a webcam, mic and anything that will help you work with your team remotely. If you are constrained for time, you can often use your phone. Test your mic and video, try not to be the guy with unbearable screeching coming from your mic.

Work From Home Productivity Tools and Tips

How to stay organized and productive? Use the many tools available to you. A popular technique to use is called the: Pomodoro Technique

 
  1. Choose a task you want to be accomplished (or a part of a job)
  2. Set the Pomodoro (a timer) to 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then check off what task or subtasks you have accomplished.
  4. Take a short 5-minute break
  5. Every four consecutive Pomodoros take a more extended break.

There are lots of Apps that can help you use this technique as well as a host of other features. Some suggested also work well for managing a whole team.

I recommend the classic and straightforward TomatoTimer.

If you are looking for ones that offer more functionality checkout zapier’s in-depth Pomodoro review

Health care for your eyes

Staring at bright white screens for long periods can cause eye strain. This strain becomes worse at night as your eyes are naturally not accustomed to that intense light at those hours.

First, use dark mode when possible. I use Dark Reader for my browser (they support edge, chrome, safari and firefox) and find it quite useful and one of the better dark modes out there.

For applications that you will use to work from home, check out their support pages to enable dark mode.

The next consideration would be using a blue light filter. Blue light at night can damage our circadian rhythm and make going to bed that much more difficult. I recommend using Flux for windows and Flux for MacOS

Tools for Managers and Business Owners

As a manager or business owner, you want a balance between making sure your employees are productive while also not being too invasive. If you are skeptical of trusting employees to work from home, then here is an article that might ease your concerns.

Project management of your remote teams is vital. We use HIVE Desk at IT Partners as it allows us and the employee to keep track of time, update notes, built-in task manager, and many other features.

Keep in mind that different organizations have different needs. Take a look at the reviews and ratings for different solutions.

Communication is vital, so make sure you have access to a way to keep your employees working together effectively.

Some popular applications are

For more options and reviews, check out the PC Mags articleMany other tools exist depending on your situation. Have a look at this site that outlines some other tools depending on your organization.

Cybersecurity At Home

When implementing any strategy, make sure that you prioritize your cybersecurity. We at IT Partners have many tools available to make sure that your small business, medium-sized business or enterprise is ready to work from home securely.

Please have a chat with us to make sure your team can work productively and securely during COVID-19.

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