Healthy Work Practices

Staying Focused while Working from Home

  • Motivate yourself. Self-motivation  techniques can help you to boost your confidence, think positively, and set clear goals.
  • Minimize distractions. Which distractions  tend to affect you most? Maybe you get caught up doing household chores, or suffer interruptions from family or friends. Beating these distractions could be as simple as shutting the door!
  • Reward yourself. Find ways to make each task more enjoyable and rewarding in itself, as well as giving yourself “treats” when they’re done. For example, allow yourself your favourite specialty coffee for completing a task successfully.
  • Know your goals. Along with short-term, task-related goals, make sure that you’re also clear about the wider career goals  and purpose  you’re striving to achieve. Keeping these in mind will motivate you to do your best work, whatever your location.

Balance Work and Life

  • Commute to your home office! Consider taking a short walk before starting your working day. Even a 10-minute stroll could energize you, and help to create a break between home tasks and work tasks.
  • Get organized. Make sure you have everything you need within easy reach. Keep your workplace tidy. Spend a few minutes at the end of each session sorting out things like paperwork or empty coffee cups. Clear away as much of it as you can when you switch off for the day.
  • When you’re working, act like it! You might find it helps to have particular clothes for working at home. Dressing for work can set the right mental tone for the day (and avoid any awkwardness if you get dialled in to a virtual meeting while you’re still in your pajamas!). Also, avoid going into certain areas of the house, so that you know when you’re in “work mode,” and when you’re not.
  • Have “no-go” zones for technology. Laptops and cell phones can be useful for staying in touch with co-workers, but they can also leave us feeling as though we’re “always on.” This can lead to stress  and burnout . So, try to set up “no-go” zones when work devices are banned, such as mealtimes, holidays and the two hours before bed every night, to avoid sleep disruption.
  • Set break reminders. Regular short breaks can help to keep you energized and focused. Try setting a countdown timer while you do an hour of work. When the alarm goes off, reward yourself with a five- or 10-minute break – to make a coffee, or get some fresh air. It’s vital that you get out of your chair during the day. See our article, Improving Health and Physical Well-Being at Work , for tips on building activity into your routine.
  • Remind your children to let you work! Ensure that you have reliable childcare in place, and remind your children that when you’re in your office, you’re not to be disturbed. However, don’t be too rigid: one of the great joys of working from home is being there when they get back from school!
  • Create physical boundaries. If possible, set up a workspace that’s separate from your home space. Make it a place where you’ll enjoy spending time. Check you can sit comfortably. This should make it easier to shut out the everyday distractions of home life, and to cut off from work at the end of each day.

Working in a Virtual Team

  • Define work systems – By setting standards and defining repeatable work systems, the team has generally less questions and gets a feeling for how long certain tasks should take.
  • Establish multiple communication tools – Using the right tools contributes to creating that internal feeling of togetherness. The team should be made aware of which tool to use for what purpose.
  • Schedule regular meetings – Scheduling briefings at the same time on the same weekday contributes to creating a routine which puts the team at ease and reduces stress by providing the team with something they are used to and familiar with.
  • Have clear and detailed deliverables – It is better to provide more detailed descriptions of the tasks with examples of what the final result should look like. Give the team the freedom to execute it than less instructions and having to deal with potential misunderstandings.
  • Make sure work hours overlap – Even if some of the team members are unlikely to need each other to complete their tasks, being online at the same time brings the team closer together and is the quickest problem solving solution there is.
  • Create a professional work environment – Setting professional standards contributes to being efficient and puts people in the right mindset.
  • Choose (video) calls over chatting and emails – With virtual teams, video calls or at least regular calls are more than a way to avoid misunderstandings. They connect the team members on a more personal level.
  • Establish a meritocratic system – Meritocracy — or the process of rewarding and recognizing people based on their skills — stimulates people to work harder and better.
  • Use project management tools – Project management tools can be ideal to keep track of deadlines. They also send alerts and reminders for deadlines and give you a quick daily, weekly or monthly overview of what needs to be done, by who, and when.

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