Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks the working day into 25 minute chunks
As the coronavirus is spreading alarmingly across the globe, there many restrictions have come to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
However, since some organizations cannot afford to stay closed for very long, many factories, shops, hotels and restaurants have already ordered its employees to work from home.
Instead going to offices, schools and other daily work places, millions of people are staying in their apartments. In most of the offices across Asia, desks are empty and the phones are quiet, as the region is struggling with the deadly virus, reported CNN.
About 1.5 million people work from home, and it's becoming more popular all the time, reported BBC.
Here are the best ways to stay efficient and keep your spirits up during work from home:
For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home.
But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare people to start work.
Whether there is a need to change into business attire depends on the type of person and the nature of the job.
Some people find that dressing formally is helpful and also useful if they need to dial into a video call.
There should be set hours of work, and it is important to stick to the fixed time during working from home.
Space allowing, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set yourself up - ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your workplace.
If there are other people in the house, finding a space where you're not likely to be disturbed is essential, as Prof Robert Kelly found out the hard way in 2017.
Practise good etiquette
"Make eye contact with the camera. If you're typing, mute your keyboard so other people don't hear clicking," said technology executive Amy Bailey.
Sit forward in your seat when others are talking, rather than slumping on your sofa – it shows your co-workers that you're engaged, reported The Guardian.
If some people are dialing in from home, and others are at work, be mindful of the people physically absent. Meetings may be weighted in favour of the people in the room: they can exchange looks or read body language in a way those plugged in from home can't.
Treat each other like humans
One-to-one video calling can help combat social isolation. "I work for a company where 80% of the employees work remotely," says Bailey. "Our HR department encourages us to call people via video call instead of sending them an email, so that you can have that face-to-face interaction. It adds time, but it helps you engage more with your co-workers." US software startup GitHub even runs Remote Happy Hours for employees working from home – although of course, they have to drink whatever's in their fridge.
"The interesting thing about remote working is that people always think it will be better," said Bruce Daisley, author of The Joy of Work. Like any technology, video calling is neutral. It's about how you use it. Don't drone on, waste time, or speak for the sake of it, and you'll get the most of video calling software. And remember: if you are watching Netflix instead of working, always put your microphone on mute.
Beware the private chat
So much of our interaction in meetings is nonverbal. The eye-roll behind your boss's back; the strained smile when the office bore drones on. With video calling, these subtleties are lost – which is why many workers will often have a sneaky chat going on with their co-workers at the same time.
But a chat message is much more permanent than an eye-roll. "These messages can be recorded by your employers," says Spicer, "and people can be held accountable for them. An informal eye roll can be disavowed, but an instant message on a company server can't." So, if you're tempted to gripe about how tedious the video call is to a trusted colleague – use your personal mobile phone instead. If you're sharing a slide-deck or other notes during a video call, other people in the meeting will be able to screenshot those materials without you realising. Which is fine if you trust your colleagues, but good to be aware of nonetheless.
Pick up the phone
If you're working from home, the chances are you'll be alone, so you won't get distracted by colleagues' conversations and other office noise.
When you're at work, you're more likely to engage with colleagues but when you're working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating. Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.
"More and more people hide behind email rather than pick up the phone and talk to colleagues and contacts," said Hugo Mortimer-Harvey, who's worked remotely from Spain as a freelance PR consultant since 2018. "When you spend the day working on your own, actually calling people and having a conversation can be much more stimulating and indeed productive than a chain of emails."
Take regular breaks
It's good to have a fixed routine while working from home, but work should not become monotonous.
Employees should not stay glued to the computer screen all day. It's important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office.
Research has also found that short breaks throughout the day are more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks. Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks the working day into 25 minute chunks. Each chunk is followed by a five-minute break.
Ellie Wilson is co-founder of virtual assistant service, Virtalent, and has a team of more than 50 remote workers. "It's important to stand up, stretch, move around and even go for a short walk to take a break from your work and your screen," she says.
"Being cooped up without stopping for a break can mean your productivity levels drop, you become more tired and less motivated to complete what you're working on."
Here are some tools that might keep productivity high while working from home:
Slack helps co-workers across different locations collaborate effectively. It becomes particularly useful if every individual member of a team is in a separate location. It lets you have individual chats with co-workers, create groups for particular sections or topics within your team, and also maintain a message history. It is a functional, feature-filled option to ensure that you stay online and connected, reported BD Free Press.
Hangouts can be used for text messages and group video calls. Users can effectively switch between participants, quickly turn on and off audio and video for ease of communication, and have remote conversations seamlessly.
Trello allows you to manage particular projects, keep track of them through the processes, and add comments or collaborators on these when necessary. Trello's visual interface and drag-and-drop functionality helps make project management easier.
Google Keep lets you create specific lists, take notes with pictures and audio clips, and share them with co-workers when needed.
Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drive
Google's suite lets you work on worksheets, written documents, presentations, and more, directly using a browser. These files can be saved to offline versions if needed, but are usually saved on the cloud, and linked to your Google account. You can then share them with specific users, or create shareable links that can be accessed by anyone.
Google Drive links all of these other Google apps but also lets you share large files such as videos or image albums. These are stored on the cloud, and Google gives a modest 15GB of cloud storage per account for free.