A man working from home during covid lockdown

4 steps to work from home efficiently

The current situation related to the COVID-19 crisis suddenly pushed us into a necessary remote work life. Freelancers are used to it and already know the struggles. Working from home is not always the best choice on a daily basis even if some may say that it works for them, that they reached a good work-life balance, they are productive and happy. But the reality for many people is that remote work can sometimes be really hard to manage. Social isolation, distractions, time management, loss of productivity, you name it.

Here are 4 useful tips to help you work from home more efficiently.

1. A good work space

1.1 Set your workspace

As you are going to work from home, it is important to separate and delimit your work space. A proper office room or just a corner of your house that you dedicate to work. A good and comfortable office chair is just as important as … your laptop for example. If you don’t have a good chair for the moment, don’t worry there are other solutions, that we will detail in the following point that actually apply for everyone.    

1.2 Don’t sit in the same position for too long 

We all know that office work is responsible for back pain and injuries. You need to take care of your back even at home. 

In order to avoid long periods of sitting in front of your computer, you need to change your position frequently. In coworking spaces for example you will find a large variety of work stations: standing desks, sofas, futons, office chairs, etc. Then let’s reproduce that at home. Your sofa must definitely not become your office space but you can definitely get some work done there for a short time before moving back to your desk. Stand working is also very good for your spine. It is all about balance and alternation, so take advantage of all your furniture at home.

1.3 Use ergonomic tools to improve your comfort

There are some super useful tools and gadgets to help you improve your position in front of your laptop. You can also check our article about Body mindfulness and the importance of ergonomics.

The laptop stand (+ keyboard and mouse)

It is one of the first basic tools you should buy, most of our coworkers are using it at the coworking. It allows you to adapt the position of your computer to your arm position and head position. You will find many models to adapt depending on how portable and adjustable you want it. You can find portable stands that fit in your backpack or strong and adjustable ones. You also have the DIY version which consists in choosing a nice collection of books in your personal library and using them to raise your laptop. 

  1. Adjustable standing desk 

You can take ergonomics to the next level at home with an adjustable standing desk. The piece of furniture can be quite expensive (from €130 to €400) but is really practical. It is adaptable to any standard desk table and allows you to move from sitting position to standing position.

2. Time management 

2.1 Structure your time

Your working hours should start and end. Meaning, be careful with flexibility, it can easily lead you to send your last email at 10pm. You should always schedule your agenda, specifying your working times, coffee breaks, lunch break, personal activities and try to stick to it as much as possible. 

2.2   Track your time

When you are working alone at home time can pass very fast. There exist many Time Trackers Apps that can help you manage the time you spend on every task and stick to your schedule. Some of them are free like Clockify, then you have infinite  options with monthly or yearly subscriptions. 

2.3 The Pomodoro Method

Distractions are a big challenge when you try to be productive, When you work from home, you can be disturbed by emails or tempted by social media, the fridge in the kitchen or the sofa in the living room. The pomodoro technique consists in blocking slots of 25 minutes where you must complete a task with zero distraction. After those 25 minutes you are allowed to have a 5 minutes break. You will repeat this cycle 3 times  and then get a 20 minutes break. If you want more tips, you can have a look at our article on How to avoid distraction and focus at work.  

2.4  Break time 

To be productive at home you need to have efficient break times! Take a moment to have a walk, get some fresh air you can enjoy this time to do some sport or stretching to keep your back and your neck strong and healthy. You should always practice some Stretching and sports during the day. We are working long hours sitting in front of our computer and now with the confinement situation, our movements  are getting really close to zero! 

It's always a good idea take some break while working from home

 3. Communication

3.1 Keep in touch with your team 

It is important to maintain good communication with your team. You need to share the information, insights and progression in order to be on the same page with your workmates. You might work on a shared virtual workspace like a Google Drive where you can easily work together on your projects. You should have weekly meetings preferably always at a fixed time. It can be a Monday morning briefing via video conference. Video calls are a  good way to stay connected and clarify points to avoid long email exchanges.

People doing online meetings during quarantine for good communication

3.2 Apps and tools

Good communication is the base for efficient teamwork and this is even more important when you are working  from home and don’t have direct contact with your team. You have many good software that are really practical when you do remote work. 

Slack for example allows you to create different channels depending on the team, department and projects to keep in touch and structure conversation.

For video conferences you can use Google Hangouts or Zoom.

 4. Get dressed!

No kidding here guys. You are WORKING from home and if you want to be productive,  you need to set your mind as such. The temptation is big, no one will see you, you could stay in a pyjama sitting on your sofa with a cup of coffee by your side, but no. You need to have a morning routine as you would if you were going to the office or if you were working from a coworking space. You wake up, have a shower or do some meditation and stretching. Have a nice breakfast in the kitchen reading the newspaper and you get dressed before to start your working day at home. 

Work-life balance is never easy to reach. When you work remotely from home, the frontiers between personal life, private life and professional life are inexistent. You work at home and sleep at work. If you do not structure your time properly, working from home can quickly become overwhelming and depressing but if you are serious enough it can also be very comfortable and satisfying.