10 Ways to Make Working From Home More Productive
Thank you, Webroot, for sponsoring this post and for helping keep our devices and information safe while working from home.
Welcome to the new reality, where working from home isn’t a luxury or a fun company perk — but a necessity. And while working from home for a day or a two at a time may be kind of fun, when that becomes the new norm, your productivity may suffer.
I think that it happens because you’re lacking a lot of the systems that you have in place at the office, and working from home may feel chaotic and disorganized because of that. So here are 10 systems that you can create at home that will get you back to productivity and an easier workflow.
I’ve also made a video on the topic in case if you prefer video format:
Communication is the first thing to suffer when you start working remotely. It’s just so much easier to communicate with your team in-person, while remote communication requires more intentional effort. This is a slippery slope that leads to miscommunications and a lack of efficiency, so let’s look at how you can make sure you have a proper communication system in place.
First, identify the types of communication that need to happen between your team members. For example:
Quick updates and back-and-forth communication that doesn’t need to be via email
Once you have a list of those, explore different tools that work well for those types of communication. For example, email works great for external communication and announcements, while chat-based communication tools work well for quick updates.
Figure out what works best for your team and work on a communication structure. It’s also a good idea to set times or triggers for updates between team members. For example, you update each other at 12pm every day — or team members on a certain project send updates to each other once a task is complete.
Photo by Gabriel Beaudry on Unsplash
2. Project Management
Project and goal management is another way of communication which helps with prioritisation and transparency between team members. If you don’t use a project manager tool on the team or company level, make sure you implement something. It can be as easy as tracking statuses, goals, and tasks using a Google Spreadsheet — that’s actually what we used when I worked at Google!
Make sure that everyone’s goals, projects and tasks are aligned with company/team priorities and that everyone is working together and staying on track. Implementing a system like this can take some time, but it will help add better structure to everyone’s day and get rid of feelings of disorientation and chaos.
3. Securing Networks and Devices
Since most of our work and lives are online these days, we are exposing ourselves to more cybersecurity risks — that would be true just from a statistical point of view. However, there’s also been an increase in the number of malware and cyberattacks in the recent weeks.
A lot of them are disguising themselves as sources of knowledge and information around COVID-19. There’s a ton of malware and ransomware floating around the internet right now and a lot of the time they’re hard to identify.
Unless you would like to be a victim of cybercrime, securing your devices with antivirus software is essential. I’d recommend looking into Webroot’s Antivirus software, as it helps protect multiple devices — not only your computer, but also your phone and tablet through a secure browser, backup, and password management.
Webroot’s Antivirus will scan your computer for malware and ransomware in just 20 seconds, and also help secure your data and identity and while protecting you from phishing attacks. Try it for FREE for 90 days!
This brings me to my next tip:
4. Protection from Cyber Attacks
Statistics show that phishing attacks have spiked by over 600% in the recent months, which is absolutely insane. And what’s incredibly sad is that a lot of them are hiding in those COVID-19 email outreaches and some are even pretending to be the World Health Organisation.
Webroot security analyst Tyler Moffitt said:
“If anything, we will only see an increase of attacks and ransom amounts since this is when infrastructures of modern civilization are needed most, but have the least amount of time to react and debate on paying or negotiating the price.”
He also pointed out that cybercriminals now have more time because they’re also staying at home or may have been laid off, so they have the opportunity and motivation to come up with creative ways to trick us.
I can’t say that I love that idea, because even though I think I’m good at spotting phishing attacks, I know there are some seriously good ones out there. I mean, I’ve been tricked by my previous employer twice when they sent phishing training emails!
So you should treat every email that has links, requests information (including your password or even things like your date of birth), or that has attachments as potential phishing emails. Contact the sender using a different method to make sure it was them and never ever share any information or open suspicious links and/or attachments.
To feel safer, use Webroot’s Antivirus — as it has real-time anti-phishing mechanisms and helps block harmful websites. And if you’re able to, try to implement it on the team/company level, as anyone can become an entry point into your company’s system. Try it for FREE for 90 days and see how it does its magic 😉
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
5. Audit Tools for Security
Since we are on the topic of security, this is also the time to ensure that the tools you are using to store and share information between teammates are secure. Especially when it comes to confidential files!
Run an audit of all of the software you’re using as a team to see whether it is encrypted or not, ensuring that there won’t be any leaks.
6. Blocking out Distractions
When you’re working from home you don’t have the social pressure that keeps you away from social media or other online rabbit holes. This makes it so much easier to get distracted and drift away, which will obviously affect your focus and how much you actually get done at the end of the day.
You know what distracts you, so make a list of those websites and apps — and block them for the times when you should be focusing. There are a ton of tools that will help you do that — it’s the only reason I wrote my undergraduate dissertation back in the day!
If it helps, find an anti-distraction buddy (it can be anyone, such as a friend or a team member) so that you can keep each other accountable when it comes to distractions.
7. Calendar Blocking
Calendar Blocking is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a technique that helps you block out time for certain tasks on your calendar. Want to spend two hours working on a report? Block them on your calendar. Do you need to do a brainstorm or write an article? Block the time for it on your calendar.
This technique helps you plan out your day and keep you accountable. It also helps you organise your calendar and take back control over your time if you use shared calendars with your team — and they can schedule meetings at all times.
One more note on Calendar Blocking: Make sure you also block out time for breaks! You need to take breaks to stay productive.
Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash
8. Meeting Days/Times
This is the next level of taking control over your time: if you schedule meetings and calls close to each other and only on certain days, you will be able to free up solid chunks of time to do deep and creative work.
I don’t know about you, but it takes me some time to properly get into my tasks and meetings distract me. It takes me longer to get back into the work and there are often follow-up items after meetings that don’t help. So I try to plan and create those times when I can just focus on producing something — it’s especially important when your work involves creating or building.
9. Virtual Team-Building
Just because we are all online doesn’t mean that team building should be abandoned. Building strong bonds between team members is essential to keeping everyone happy and working together which, in turn, has great effects on productivity!
I’ve heard of so many ways in which teams are being creative and are organising virtual happy hours, coffees, and general hangouts. Make sure you do the same with your team!
10. Creating Boundaries
Finally, don’t let work get in the way of your personal time. Just because you can continue working all evening doesn’t mean that you should. You have to intentionally create expectations and boundaries!
Create rules around when you are online and offline. I’ve also made a post about creating boundaries with the people you work with, which you can find here. You also should try to make physical boundaries too. One of the ways to do that is to create a dedicated workspace that should only be associated with work. This way you will literally be changing environments within your home for work and relaxation time, creating a boundary. Another way is to change your clothes at the start and at the end of your work day: Wearing something more put-together during the day and something more relaxed in the evening.
Working from home is an adjustment, but it is doable. I hope these systems help!
Let me know which ones you already have in place and which ones you need to implement for working from home in the future! And if you don’t want to be a victim of cybercrime, consider protecting your information and devices with Webroot’s Antivirus — it’s super easy to set up and will bring you peace of mind. Try it for FREE for 90 days and see for yourself.