With more and more governments enforcing lockdowns and social distancing measures due to coronavirus, the likelihood is that you’re reading this article in your loungewear.
Working from home gets a pretty good rap. But is it all it’s hyped up to be?
While there are undoubtedly upsides to remote working, like ditching the morning commute, enjoying home comforts, and spending more time with your cats, there are negatives too.
Perhaps the biggest downside is the hit to productivity that comes from a lack of routine, a larger number of distractions, and, crucially, an inability to brainstorm and connect with team members.
So if you’re struggling to stay productive while maintaining social distancing and working from home, we’ve got four easy tips you can implement right now.
1. Take Advantage of Underused Video Conferencing Features
Video conferencing is the single best antidote to social distancing. It allows you to meet with colleagues for meetings in pretty much the same way as you did before. And virtually all companies understand the need to replace traditional face-to-face time with digital alternatives.
But most people overlook the large feature-sets at their disposal when video conferencing, many which help bolster productivity. Most apps have tools like noise-cancelling technology for eliminating background sounds, automated zooming which instantly focuses on the main speaker, and even digital whiteboards. Familiarize yourself with your software’s secondary features and make use of them whenever possible.
2. Target Distractions With the Nuclear Option
The lure of news websites, with their stream of continuously-updated, breaking corona news stories, is almost irresistible. You’ve probably got at least one tab open now.
The temptation to check your Facebook feed or favourite news site is strong. But you need to fight it. One study showed that employees typically waste 60 hours every month on time-sapping distractions. And when you’re at home, away from the watchful eye of your boss, it’s much easier to fritter away those precious working hours.
So how can you resist that oh-so-frustrating pull towards social media and breaking news stories? If you’re like most other people, merely saying to yourself, “I’m not going to give in to distractions!” won’t cut the mustard.
Instead, you should download a browser extension or mobile app that will force you to stay on-task. These tools enable you to block tempting sites, turn off internet access for specific periods, and even set penalties for breaking your own distraction rules. Even better, most apps are free.
3. Use One Collaboration App Wherever Possible
If you’re a business owner, manager, or team leader, you should opt for a single project management solution that employees can use for a myriad of different jobs.
By enabling your team to complete tasks in one place, you’re increasing the likelihood that they’ll stay connected with colleagues, whom they can message through chat boxes, joint document editing tools, and collaborative workflow management areas.
Building communication right into the fabric of everyday tasks is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that employees don’t lose contact with each other when they’re not working in close proximity as in an office.
4. Keep Up-to-Date With Colleagues on a Personal Level
“Water cooler chat” – a term used to describe office small-talk which derives from the tendency to exchange pleasantries around the water cooler – is generally seen as something to be discouraged by managers. But it can actually have a range of benefits from a productivity standpoint.
Office small talk is important for fostering personal relationships between colleagues, which has been linked to increased happiness at work. It also gives employees some downtime and an opportunity to float ideas and suggestions.
Social distancing makes water cooler chat impossible. That’s why it’s good practice to create a personal space online, such as a chat area in your project management app or an online Facebook group, where employees can let off some steam and connect on a personal level.
Struggling to Make Sense of the Changing Corporate Landscape?
If there’s one thing that the coronavirus has shown, it’s that nothing stays the same. And this is perhaps more true of business than any other area.
At the EU Business School, our courses are designed to equip students with the tools, understanding, and experience they need to constantly and consistently adapt to a rapidly-shifting environment.