Since 2020 was a year of big changes in the workplace, we decided to make a continuation of our popular productivity tips blog for our readers. According to a study done at Stanford University, 42 percent of America’s workforce is full-time remote, and there are no indications this will change anytime soon.
Before the pandemic, remote work and occasional work-from-home days were more of a job perk than a necessity. Full-time remote work was the milieu of small businesses, consultants, and freelancers – and while these sectors continue to thrive in unconventional environments, many of us have been forced to adapt. And it hasn’t always been easy.
Those with children and families learned how to better manage their time, set boundaries, and organize their workspaces for maximum efficiency. We necessarily embraced communications and productivity apps and tools, like Zoom, Asana, Slack, and more. We had to redefine work-life balance and find new ways to ensure our teams remained engaged and aligned, despite the enforced distance constraints.
Most important of all, and I think we can all agree on this – we’re always looking for new ways to improve productivity and make our working life more manageable. In the absence of direct contact, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in the universe, and that’s not the best way to get things done.
So let’s look at some more of the top productivity tips that have come out of these times. As cliché as it sounds, necessity is the mother of invention!
More Productivity Tips For Working Remotely
First Things First: Upgrade Your Internet
When you think about all the new processes and workflows you’ve had to adapt to make working from home possible, they all have one thing in common: you need a good, stable, fast, secure, and reliable internet. And unfortunately, what worked for you and your family before might not be viable now.
Consider this: if you have kids, spouses working from home, or roommates who share your connection, you’ll be competing for bandwidth – so you’ll either have to lay out a few new ground rules or upgrade your connection to support your needs. Our vote is always for the upgrade. After all, you’ve probably got better things to do with your time than troubleshooting or arguing with your living partners.
Video calls lack stability without enough capacity. Plus, with virtualized company systems, you need to ensure easy access to the documents and apps you need, and also that your network is secure.
If you can access business-grade internet in your area, that’s the ideal approach. However, you might need to shop around for the fastest connection, the most bandwidth possible, and a new firewall, VPN, or malware protection app. If you need to upgrade, you can probably expense it – and it will be worth the effort when you don’t have to deal with dropped calls, missed communications, and cyber threats.
When you had a workplace to go to, it was a simple task to separate home life from work life. However, working from home means you can’t just walk away. Of course, everybody’s home environment is different. While working from the couch was okay for the first few days, you quickly discovered how easy it is to get distracted, let deadlines slip by—or maybe the opposite, where you’re working inordinately longer hours simply because you can’t walk away from what’s on your desk.
All of this adds up to increased stress, anxiety, and often depression. Once the lines begin to blur, it’s easy to let the gloom take over, and suddenly, there’s no joy left for anything. You might also be dealing with other issues at home – like home-schooling or caring for a loved one who’s sick, making it doubly critical to gain some separation just to maintain sanity.
Here are a few quick tips to help you compartmentalize for maximum productivity:
Set working hours and stick to them. Start and end your workday at the same time each day.
Make sure others in your household know when you’re not to be disturbed. You might use a sign on the door, a light, or whatever works to set clear boundaries.
If there is one thing we can all learn from successful remote workers, it’s that communication is a tried-and-true recipe for smooth sailing. Since you can’t just saunter over to your teammate’s office, the next best way to stay connected is to check in regularly.
Don’t rely on people reaching out to you; whether it’s clients, managers, or co-workers, take the initiative to connect. Sure, you likely have meetings, scrums, and check-ins scheduled periodically, but don’t limit your outreach to just that. If you have a question, ask. If you need help, go get it. If you want to call a Zoom huddle to brainstorm or have an impromptu coffee break, do it. If you’ve finished a project, make an announcement. If your stapler finally bit the dust, say a few words in memoriam. The point is, the more you reach out, the more you’ll get back, and that’s good for everyone.
Check out our Managing a Team Remotely blog for more communication tips and tricks here.
Accept The Perks (And Concern) You’re Offered
The best companies are always mindful of their employees’ mental health. Of course, they want you to stay on track and be productive, but they genuinely care about your well-being too.
Companies like ThankView are offering their employees monthly boxes from SnackNation, reimbursing for new work-from-home equipment, and scheduling regular social events in addition to their standard benefits.
Other organizations offer a paid day off every couple of weeks, and most have implemented one-on-ones to stay in touch with each individual on a personal level. At Searchspring, during their daily Slack standup, the first question is always “how are you feeling?” to which most reply with an emoji or GIF, which helps others understand where they’re at without an awkward conversation. It’s a way to be heard and get validation without all the stigma attached to it, and it’s incredibly empowering. In a time when we’re all dealing with various issues, knowing that you don’t have to hide it—and that others are in the same boat—helps to keep you on track.
Earth Class Mail’s Virtual Mailbox
Virtual mailboxes are just one of the many tools that have helped companies stay agile as they pivot to remote work. Take Basecamp, for example. When they decided to go 100 percent remote, they needed a solution for their postal mail. One of their biggest challenges was finding a virtual solution to handle confidential documents, deposit checks, and scan and forward mail to different people – and Earth Class Mail delivered.
Our HIPAA certified mail technicians and customizable options sealed the deal, enabling Basecamp to go totally remote. The time they would normally spend sorting and distributing mail can now be used for higher-value tasks. Plus, they no longer have to deal with unwanted mail as it’s sorted out immediately. Fast, efficient, and value-driven, our virtual mailbox services are a big part of their success.
Our new collective reality may have forced us out of the office, but it’s also spawned many new observations, approaches, and strategies that support productivity and engagement. Perhaps most poignantly, we’ve learned to value ourselves, our time, and our innovation in ways that might not have been completely evident before.
To learn more about Earth Class Mail’s virtual mailbox and how it supports your work-from-home initiative, reach out today. We’d love to show you how we can help.