Switching to working from home (WFH) mode is not easy. As well as technical and network security concerns, daily communication requires more effort. Motivation weakens, performance decreases because of constant distraction, work-life balance is affected, and - well, panic ensues. So these 12 tips for a healthy and successful WFH routine will definitely make your life easier.
Separating work and non-work areas is key to a healthy work-life balance. Set up a personal home office that encourages productivity - at the dining table, on a window sill, near a standing desk, or in a bean bag - wherever household distractions are minimal. Make sure you do not limit the personal space of your family members, especially if you plan on video-conferencing throughout the day.
Rule 2: Draw a Line Between Working Hours and Private Life
People who are not used to WFH often complain that, when at home, they start working early, say at 9 a.m., and still find themselves replying to emails as late as 9 p.m. No wonder their productivity decreases exponentially after just a few days! Do not fall into this trap. Plan your activities and workload, and stick to schedule. Remember: when you are done, you are done. Stop checking your mailbox and team chats after working hours.
Rule 3: Be Your Own Manager
It is advisable to maintain your office-time habits even at home. Get up at the usual time, have breakfast, and get ready for work in the way you usually do. Put everything on your calendar and mind a few simple rules:
Dedicate time for planning complex tasks
Define key stages and milestones - both daily and weekly
Estimate effort and duration, and allocate the corresponding time.
Keep your calendar 80%+ full, so there is reasonable pressure to maintain discipline, with extra room for possible emergencies, yet no temptation to let it all slide.
Rule 4: Have HIIW Sessions
Similar to high intensity interval training (HIIT), high intensity interval working (HIIW) will help you to remain productive. Work in short, intensive intervals (30-40 minutes), then switch to a different task or take a break and eat a snack, breath fresh air, or exercise. There are plenty of guides on short workouts online, like a 10 minute energetic office workout without equipment, short yoga, breathing, or meditation sessions.
Rule 5: Read News Once a Day, From a Single Source
Avoid excessive scrolling through social media and video platforms feeds. This keeps you unfocused. Checking news all the time kills productivity and adds to your stress. Choose a single, reliable news source and check it only once a day, preferably in the morning or after work. You will still keep abreast of events, but also preserve your wellbeing.
Rule 6: Use Your Usual Commute Time to Relax
WFH saves the time you used to spend on commuting. So you can use this time for little pleasures, like watching an episode of a TV show, scrolling through a blog, or adopting new healthy habits, such as a morning workout. You probably used your commute home to switch your “work” persona to your “home”/”loving parent” one. When WFH, learn to do this quicker. Turn off your workstation (or at least notifications), cook something delicious for dinner, or play a board game with your family. It is that time of the day.
Rule 7: Follow Online Communication Etiquette
Your team should agree on a means of communication while WFH. Make sure you have the messenger launched during working hours, turn notifications on, and check the team chat from time to time.
Prepare for the daily team sync-up call in advance: check your Internet connection and headset, inform family members you are not to be disturbed for a while, and do not multitask on the calls. Mute yourself when you are not talking.
Rule 8: Use Video to Compensate for the Lack of Office Social Life
When holding a call from home, video often seems excessive – you have to dress up, comb your hair, clean whatever part of the room is visible in the background, and make sure your cat does not appear in the frame. But, after several weeks of remote work, we are likely to forget how our colleagues look - not good for teamwork and productivity. So turn on video, at least occasionally. And let’s face it, sooner or later you need to introduce your cat to your colleagues anyway (and meet their cats as well)!
Rule 9: Follow Corporate Compliance Guidelines
Check with your compliance manager whether there is a set of mandatory or nice-to-have corporate compliance guidelines, and follow them precisely. Data breaches are sometimes perpetrated if guidelines are neglected or not taken seriously, for instance regarding a prohibition on storing confidential information on personal laptops.
Rule 10: Lock Screen Every Time You Step Away
Locking your screen every time you are away from your workstation - whether in the office or at home - is a good habit. The keyboard is shiny and warm, and it is a tempting object for both kids and pets. You do not want to have to explain to your colleagues what gibberish in the team chat is all about.
Rule 11: Enhance Security Measures for Network and Devices
Home networks are less secure than corporate ones, so use extra measures, especially if you work with sensitive corporate data. Turn WPS off. Configure WPA2 with AES as an encryption algorithm for a home Wi-Fi network, and set up a strong password to protect your Wi-Fi connection. Generate strong, completely new passwords for corporate resources. Minimize the use of Bluetooth whenever and wherever possible, especially on old mobile devices. Protect the devices you use for work with anti-malware solutions.
Rule 12: Beware of Phishing and Fraud
Unfortunately, any critical situation spawns fraud. Beware of suspicious emails prompting you to “click this link to learn more about coronavirus protection measures” or similar spammy scams. Business espionage groups are becoming more and more creative these days, targeting entire industries. Be extremely attentive to ensure you do not fall victim to them.
We hope these tips will help you preserve your wellbeing and remain productive while in WFH mode.