In March of 2020, the world as we knew it changed. As the COVID-19 pandemic was ramping up, people were stocking up on household essentials, turning in-person social gatherings into virtual ones, and baking an absurd amount of sourdough bread.
Meanwhile, the workforce was going through its own transformation: Moving work from the office to people’s homes.
Working From Home By The Numbers
Among employed adult Americans:
- 20% worked from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 72% work from home currently.
- 54% say they would want to work from home indefinitely.
Source: Pew Research Center
Unlike home-baked bread and hoarding toilet paper, working from home became more ingrained in our society than ever before, and many companies are vowing to stick to a remote work environment. There are plenty of reasons for this, from saving money to valuing a true work-life balance to enhanced productivity.
At CareContent, we’re part of the original work-from-home group. Our team has been mostly remote since our beginning — way back in 2013. As a result, we know a thing or two about how to work from home effectively in a way that benefits both our company and employees.
Here are 8 tips for working from home to boost productivity and your mental well-being.
As A Company …
1. Set clear work hours.
The days of being in the office from 9 to 5 may be gone, but that doesn’t mean the idea of regular work hours should be.
As a company, set hours so employees know when to work — and when to sign off. This boosts communication and even morale. At CareContent, we start the morning off with a round of “good mornings,” and even though we might not chat much until later, it reminds us that we’re working together.
At the same time, the beauty of working remotely is that it allows for flexibility. If some of your employees are morning risers, let them sign on (and sign off) a little earlier. The same goes for your night owls — but in the reverse. Just make sure everyone meets in the middle for the amount of time your company needs to be productive.
2. Find a project management system that works for your company.
If your team is working remotely, your project management system matters immensely. But there are more than 300 project management tools out there, so choose one that fits your needs.
If there’s a free trial, have a few employees give one (or a few) a spin and report back. And if you decide on one only to realize it’s not your cup of tea, don’t hesitate to switch. At CareContent, our needs have changed over the years, and so has our project management software.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
When your team is working from dozens of different locations, it’s critical to foster as much communication as possible to enhance efficiency and avoid mistakes.
There are plenty of ways to do this. To start, use a communication channel to allow for ongoing interactions. At CareContent, we use Google Chat, but there’s also Slack, Teams, and Jabber, to name a few.
Keep in mind — communication requires more than just one touchpoint. Schedule check-ins with the whole team, smaller groups, or one-on-ones.
Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone every once in a while. Sometimes, written forms of communication can lead to misunderstandings — ones that talking on the phone can quickly diminish.
4. Set aside time to chat about non-work-related items.
Your team members are more than cogs in the machine. They are human beings with emotions, important life events, and a need to socialize. By setting aside time to chat about personal updates, world happenings, or anything else that is taking up the mental space of your employees, you’ll foster connections, boost morale, and enhance productivity.
At CareContent, we leave time for personal updates at the beginning of each team meeting. When one of our team members has something to share — like a life update or a need for positive thoughts and prayers — we share and we listen.
5. Gather feedback.
Once you take the time to craft a work-from-home situation that allows your company to thrive, ask the people who are working in this environment for honest feedback.
There are plenty of approaches to getting honest feedback from your team. Choose one — or multiple — and make sure that your workflow and processes are working for everyone. If they’re not, change them.
As An Individual …
6. Stick to a morning routine.
Your morning prep sets the scene for your day. Take the time to craft a morning routine that makes you feel good, such as a morning meditation, workout, or cup of coffee. Whatever your morning self-care routine is — use it to set yourself up for a positive workday.
Consider getting dressed for work, too. Whether that’s putting on lipstick and a nice blouse or simply combing your hair and brushing your teeth, try to avoid simply rolling out of your bed and into your office chair.
7. Keep your workspace separate from your home space.
Once you’re ready to sign on, do so in a place that’s separate from the rest of your home. This can be a full office or a designated area in a room — but it should not be on the couch in front of your TV. A dedicated workspace will help your mind recognize that it’s time to work.
Invest in a few quality office items, too, such as a chair with great lumbar support, a large monitor, or even a nice candle that makes you happy while you work.
8. Be mindful of your time.
Time is something that you can never get back. While it may be tempting to work long hours at home (especially if you’re a bit of a workaholic), take breaks throughout your day to boost your mental well-being and productivity.
Be sure to take vacation days from time to time, too — even if that just means staying at home and relaxing. And if you’re sick, do not push through a regular workday. Give your body the rest it needs.
At CareContent, working from home is second nature to us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t change things up when necessary. By establishing a company routine — but not allowing it to become “too routine” — you can ensure your remote team stays productive, happy, and supported.