- December 15, 2020
- by Jakub Szyszka
- No comments
Well, 2020 hasn’t been a boring year so far. The majority of companies shifted to a remote-focused work environment. Businesses like Zoom thrived at the opportunities that came with this, while others might have struggled to stay on track.
It’s no secret that transitioning to working from home is a challenge, so today, we’ll focus on how remote teams can increase their productivity.
Before all of the 2020-related chaos came down upon us, it’s safe to say that working remotely wasn’t that revolutionary of a work mode that some people might think.
Remote Work: The Beginning
Remote work was made possible in the early 2000s thanks to hi-speed broadband internet and communication and productivity tools that allowed distributed work.
The emergence of Skype (2003), Slack (2009), and Basecamp were a gateway to enabling remote work.
Most of the tech and ad sectors companies would allow remote work either full time or on a partial basis. This shift from office-only culture posed many challenges when building teams, establishing a company culture, and, most importantly, keeping a sufficient level of productivity.
It’s not a surprise that the coronavirus pandemic completely reshaped the way that we work. While remote work wasn’t a big revolution among tech companies, some industries, such as financial services, banking, and education, had to adapt to a remote-first work environment.
While companies relying on Slack channels and Skype meetings before 2020 didn’t have that much adjustment to make, other, more old-fashioned businesses had to reshape how they work in these new circumstances completely.
There’s no more way of getting your whole team in a conference room to discuss this month’s goals and quotas.
However, thanks to modern work tools such as Trello or Asana, moving your team home doesn’t pose that much of a threat as earlier, when you’d have to rely on e-mail or, even worse, multiple phone calls a day. (I mean, who likes to be micromanaged, right?)
How Has The Business Landscape Changed?
You know what they say, right?
Each challenge can be an opportunity.
And this is precisely what some companies took to heart as remote work became this year’s standard.
For example, WeWork from home is a job board dedicated only to remote jobs. See?
Also, multiple companies such as Cisco, GitLab, or Toggl managed to build a fully remote company culture. You can also get a glimpse of how many businesses took the chance to focus more on remote hiring in 2020.
How Employees Adapt
Although it’s not a new thing, working from home still poses some challenges to some.
Most of them are:
- lack of proper office space
- too many distractions related to housework
- for parents, well, taking care of their children
- lack of socializing with co-workers
- not having clear boundaries between work and home (obviously)
And while some employees thrive at remote work and the 2020 shakeup is more than a favorable circumstance, others might need some time to adapt and might suffer from lower morale and productivity.
So, here are a few ways to increase productivity throughout the day.
1) Office space
Make sure to set up your workspace at home, whether it’s a separate desk or completely rearranging your bedroom or home office. It would be best if you had an area dedicated only to work. Only!
Why is that important?
A home is a place with strong psychological associations or relaxation, leisure, and being with your close ones.
On the other hand, we associate the office with work, discipline, and focus.
That’s why it’s essential to set up your own home office, meaning: a place where you can mimic the office work-related associations.
2) Failing to plan = planning to fail
Although it can be applied to other work areas or even unrelated to your professional career, not planning is planning to fail.
Additionally, you can’t rely on your co-workers across the cubicle to let you in on today’s schedule or list of assignments.
Even crucially, a simple “Hey boss, what should I focus on today?” said across the room, won’t work.
That’s why keeping a tidy list of your assignments, tasks, and projects is your ally.
You can either stay old school and take personal notes or make checklists in your paper calendar or notebook, but if you feel like staying up to date with the latest tech, you can also use apps like Todoist, Trello, or monday.com to help you with your daily or weekly planning.
3) Don’t multitask
Just don’t. Seriously.
If you have many tasks and feel like some of them aren’t that much challenging, try to set up a timer for when you’ll complete them separately. You can also use the famous Pomodoro technique or just set up a simple timer for when you’re about to finish work.
Who doesn’t like a bit of competition, right?
Oh, and if you don’t know, the Pomodoro technique is a popular method to increase focus and stay productive at work by setting up a 25-minute work interval followed by a 5-minute break.
Although it has it’s pros and cons, be sure to give it a try and see for yourself if this is the right fit for you.
4) Take scheduled breaks
While staying at home, you might feel tempted to skip your lunch break and power through the day, but it’s a short-lived gain.
Breaks are good.
Breaks help you rebuild your focus and energy.
Remember: you’re here for the long run.
💡 Tip: Set a strict time during your work from home day to have your lunch break (or, any break, you can as well take a walk or run)
5) Use tools that boost productivity
Thankfully, working from home yields so much additional work tools to support your new work style that anything you do can be supported by a productivity tool just a few clicks away in day’s day and age.
- if you need to know how much time you or your team spends on their tasks/projects – give TimeCamp a try
- in need of a clear and straightforward project board – go for Trello
- a quick and easy to use app for conferencing – Zoom, Teams, or Whereby will save you the hassle
- want to stay in touch with the rest of the company – HeySpace or Slack will do just fine
already use Slack to communicate with the rest of your team? Quickly integrate with third-party apps like Standuply to manage projects from within Slack
6) Test, measure, and adjust
While all of these tips seem like a drug prescription, be sure to test all of them out and find the best fit for yourself.
As mentioned in a video by Hubspot, some people don’t mesh well with the Pomodoro technique since they have their productivity flow during the day.
Remember: we’re all different, and we might need other methods to thrive at work.
Companies’ Role in Increasing Productivity at Work
All of the methods employee-centered and require them to take a proactive approach. However, companies should also take part in helping their employees transitioning into a remote work environment.
After all, they rely on the productivity of their workers.
Companies that prioritize remote work culture also have adjusted their benefits proposal to match the new landscape.
Some employers, for example, offer the following benefits:
- an additional budget for employees to set up their home office
- covering an employee’s co-working space membership fees
- annual or semi-annual company retreats
- vacation stipends
As you can see, some employers can show some adaptability themselves, which is also encouraging candidates to consider transitioning into a remote-first working style.
Final Tips on Remote Work Productivity
Although the covid-19 pandemic is here to stay for a bit longer, there is an end-date for that.
However, some have already showcased that the work-from-home model is here to stay for good.
Companies had a chance to evaluate how important it is to have an ultra-fancy, perk-packed office. In most cases, the pandemic showed that it’s just an inflated cost that doesn’t yield sufficient returns.
Whether you enjoy it or not, remote work is the way to work for the future, and although for some, it might mean a significant shift, all of the modern technology is here to help us.
Adaptability is key.