Since the Coronavirus pandemic struck, millions of recruiters have been forced into remote working after the government ordered the nation to ‘stay at home’ in an attempt to slow the spread of infection.

Many of us were thrown into working from home life with less than an ideal office setup and plenty of distractions, as the industry suddenly faced a very unique challenge that tested productivity.

Initially, you may have been looking forward to ditching the office for your dining table as it sounds great in theory. You can save money and time with no longer having to commute, wear comfortable clothes, plus your favourite snacks and beloved pets are always within reach. You may have wondered what’s not to like about working in the comfort of your own home?

But now into our third lockdown and almost a year later, I think it’s fair to say that the novelty has worn off for most and that the virtual office has had its drawbacks too. Staying productive and focussed has proven difficult when the distinction between work and home has been blurred. Suddenly our attention is being drawn elsewhere, like towards the dirty dishes on the kitchen counter or to Netflix which is now just a few clicks away. That’s not to mention restless children running wild in the confines of your own home due to school closures, which makes it extremely difficult to find a peaceful spot for an important Zoom call (I’m sure we’re all familiar with that BBC live interview that went viral with Professor Robert Kelly explaining South Korean politics when his children barged in!).

Consequently, maximising productivity when working remotely is high on the agenda for employers and employees alike. Especially when it looks like more and more businesses are swapping rigid 9-5 schedules and adopting this new approach to flexible office environments. Either way, the office will not look like it did before Coronavirus as we look towards embracing new working practices and more of a hybrid work landscape.

So how can you ensure you’re as productive as possible when working from home? Here are five tips to help you remain focussed and on track to hitting your targets.

1. Establish A Routine

As we adjust to our new working environment, we find ourselves waving goodbye to our familiar in-built structure that breaks up the working day. Events such as the daily commute, coffee or tea breaks, face to face meetings and lunch time helped to keep us focussed and boosted productivity. Now we find ourselves sitting at our desks non-stop whilst struggling to set boundaries between our work and home life, causing issues with motivation and even over-working and burnout. Some of us may go the entire day without any social interaction at all which can lead to feelings of isolation and anxiety, both negatively impacting productivity.

Even though the place we work has changed, there is no reason why we can’t maintain a sense of routine. If you’re no longer having to commute you’ll suddenly find yourself with an extra hour, maybe even 2, a day. Isn’t that what we’ve always wished for? We’re always complaining of not having enough hours in the day, so seize the opportunity to make a positive change. Why not go for a walk or a run in the morning that allows you to focus your mind on the day ahead?

Even though you won’t be interacting with another person from the office face to face, it’s still important to dress for success no matter how tempting it is to stay in your pyjamas. Treat your day the same and remain professional to help stay motivated. Another positive aspect of working from home is that you have more flexibility over the hours you work and can factor in your ‘peak’ productivity times into your new schedule. For some, early morning is when they get the most done and others might get the bulk of their work done after lunch and so on.

Regular breaks are also key to boosting productivity as if you work non-stop at your desk, you will experience a decline in your performance as the day goes on. Try to get some fresh air on your lunch break or do some meditation, as both will help to reduce the impact of stress and help you to stay focussed.

2. Healthy work-life balance 

Many of us are struggling to preserve healthy boundaries between our professional and personal lives. Some are finding that they’re working longer hours and having a hard time switching off, leading to stress and burnout. It is very important that you set boundaries and take care of your own well-being.

Admittedly it can be difficult setting boundaries between your dedicated workspace and where you relax and unwind when living in a one-room apartment. Having separate areas for work and play make it easier to mentally move between work and home mode. If you are tight on space, it is still important to create dedicated areas for different activities, even if that’s your own personal space on the dining table that’s set up for work.

Although we’ve all been limited throughout various lockdowns, it is still a good idea to plan your after-work time. Whether that’s making a nice dinner, going for a walk in the park or scheduling a video call with a friend, activities like these will help you finish for the day and escape from your working routine.

3. Stay connected 

Although working remotely allows you more freedom and autonomy, it can leave us feeling lonely due to a lack of social interaction. Stay in touch with your team members so that you maintain a sense of engagement and feel involved in the business as a whole. Human connection is important and has a huge impact on your state of mind, which in turn affects productivity. Try to avoid hiding behind emails and set up video calls to discuss collaborative projects. Don’t feel like you’re bothering your manager if you need to schedule in some one-on-one time to discuss your progress, or if you’d like a company update.

Try to start each day with a phone call or face-to-face video meeting, so that you don’t miss out on this important part of working life and feel isolated.

4. Optimise your home office

Not everyone has enough space for a home office and if you’re living in a shared house or apartment you’ll be battling for space along with the other people that you live with. Try and create a private, quiet space that you can work in if possible that’s separated from your personal living spaces.

Try to avoid sitting on the sofa or on your bed as that can make you feel unprofessional and sluggish and you’ll find your work life and home life will blend into one. This will make it harder to switch off in the evenings and motivate yourself to start work in the mornings – all negatively impacting on your productivity. Commit to working in your home working space and only there, which is harder than you might think if you’re lucky enough to have an entire home or space at your disposal.

5. Focus on self-care 

Covid is heavily impacting all aspects of our daily lives, both personal and professional, meaning you’re probably in a constant state of anxiety. Not knowing when normality will resume or even if some aspects of our lives will even go back to the way they were is going to cause you to worry and have a knock on effect on your mood. This in turn affects your productivity and motivation which is why it is important to take care of your mental health and wellbeing. Self-care looks different for everyone, but it’s crucial to remember that you may have your good and bad days and to not beat yourself up when you’re down. Just make sure you press the reset button, start afresh the next day and remember we’re all experiencing these challenges collectively across the world so you’re not alone.

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Georgie Partington, Content Marketing Executive

Experienced Freelance Writer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Digital Marketing, Social Media, Planning Budgeting & Forecasting, Editing, and Writing. Strong media and communication professional with a Master’s degree focused in English Literature from University of Bristol.