Seven ways to work remotely and stay productive

Innovation and skill development expert, Petris Lapis, shares her seven tips on how to keep the ball rolling when working from home.

There’s an increasing number of us who will be working remotely at least some of the time over the next weeks or months as the COVID-19 situation plays out. Although working remotely comes with some unique challenges, especially if the decision is made to close schools, there are some things we can do to stay productive.

1. Plan your day

At the start of the day plan the tasks you are going to do for the day and follow the same guidelines you would while working in the office. Do your highest priority tasks first during your greatest energy periods. Nobody can be highly productive all day, so plan your tasks around your energy periods and the demands of the other people in your home. It is important that you have clear breaks throughout the day and set time limits on how long they will be.

2. Keep a routine

If you can keep to your regular routine including getting out of your pyjamas, it will help. Getting dressed makes it feel more like a real office. Set up regular times for breaks and have a start and end time to your working hours. One of the traps to working remotely is that you have to be careful to keep good boundaries between home and work. It is incredibly easy to walk past your laptop after you have put your children to bed and just sit down to do another hour of work, rather than spend some quality time on yourself.

3. Have a stoplight for family members

Have a visual symbol for family members to tell them when you are working. It might be anything from a closed door on your home office to a red hand towel hanging over the chair near where you are working at the dining table. This lets other family members know when you are working (in a meeting or making a call etc), so they can practice being quiet and come back later with their question.

4. Have a separate comfortable workspace

We don’t all have the luxury of a separate home office, but if there is some way you can delineate your workspace and have a comfortable chair you will be more productive.

5. Use technology to connect

You may not be able to connect and communicate with your colleagues in person, but there are a lot of ways you can use technology to check in with their well-being, have meetings and collaborate on projects even while working remotely.

6. Use technology to stop distractions

It can be easier to distract yourself when you are not in an office environment. You can help yourself by removing browser shortcuts for social media, removing them from your toolbar bookmarks or signing out of all your social media accounts during working hours.

7. Stay tidy

The cleaner your home and your working space, the less inclined you will feel to distract yourself by doing the other tasks that need doing. Having mess around you can add to procrastination when you are struggling to work out what to do next.

As challenging as working remotely can be, it can also be incredibly productive and rewarding. There are opportunities to create new work habits, to find new ways of doing things and to do things you enjoy in the time you would otherwise spend commuting.

Petris Lapis has worked in accounting, law, academia, banking, business and training. She has consulted for government and industry and published several books and hundreds of papers. She has studied commerce, law, coaching, NLP and hypnosis.