Amidst the mass spread of COVID-19, employers are introducing quarantine measures and work from home to protect the well-being of their employees and prevent business loss. However, remote work is not always a holy grail as it might seem at first glance, especially for those who have never worked from home before. We prepared a list of tips for work-at-homers on how to maintain work-life balance and organize a stress-free and productive working process.

Working remotely is a dream for those stuck behind a desk and a nightmare for others. Despite numerous apparent benefits of working from home, 2020 Buffer's State of Remote Work report shows that the biggest struggles employees who work in their homes experience are related to collaboration and communication (20%), loneliness (20%), not being able to unplug (18%), distractions at home (12%), among others. If you work from home temporarily due to quarantine or if your employers stick to a remote working style, make use of these tips on how to turn your home office from distracting to productive. The advice will also help you increase efficiency and stay on good terms with your family.

Create a separate workspace

                                   

When you are working within the comfort of your home, it might be challenging to resist the temptation of staying in your bed with a laptop. However, it's not always beneficial. Try to avoid the couch and find a space where there's a mental boundary between working and relaxing. If you don't have a separate room for an office, arrange a corner in your house or apartment with a surface area. A kitchen table will work perfectly too.

Clear the clutter 

A messy office or a table can negatively affect your productivity. Researchers from Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that the more items are in front of your eyes, the more significant attention split you will experience. Clean your work area and remember that cluttered workspace leads to cluttered thoughts. You can still leave a few things that inspire you, a piece of art, for example.  

Arrange sufficient lighting

                                   

Appropriate lighting contributes to a healthy work environment reducing eye strain, fatigue, and headache, the study suggests. Therefore, make sure you have table lamps at your disposal if the natural light in your newly created home office is not sufficient. Besides, exposure to daylight and a beautiful view from your window will boost your energy and enhance motivation.

Surround yourself with some greenery

                                   

The study by the University of Technology Sydney found that indoor vegetation has a favorable effect on employee well-being, reducing tension and anxiety in 37% of subjects, anger and hostility in 44%, and depression in 58%. While the biggest tech giants are building glasshouses with fauna species from all corners of the world and moving their offices to treetop wooden houses or roof gardens, adding one or two pots to your home office table will cost you practically nothing. 

Follow a structured routine and know when to stop

Workday is slowly flowing into an additional night shift when you're still checking late emails – it's not uncommon among the employees who work remotely. We struggle to unplug from the work mode because of 24/7 accessibility. You might complete more tasks in this way, which will bring short-term results, but in the long-term perspective, you'll feel overworked and fatigued. Thus, mastering daily scheduling methods and following a plan will make your life easier.

Prioritize the challenging tasks first

You can work more efficiently and purposefully applying time management techniques. The most popular and known is Pareto's rule, according to which we should identify 20% of our tasks that will yield 80% of results, or Eisenhower decision principle, where tasks are evaluated using the criteria important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent. Thus, when you are prioritizing the assignments, especially in the areas with strict deadlines, focus on the most important tasks, taking into account the urgency, amount of effort, and the benefits they will bring.

Work when you are most productive

The studies suggest the brain function of night owls and morning larks during the hours of the working day is different and associate the phenomenon with genes. While the ‘get up and go types’ are most energetic and alert in the morning, night owls are most productive late at night. If the company you work for offers flexible hours, find out when your prime time is and organize your schedule accordingly to maximize your productivity, but still bear the health risks in mind.

Establish boundaries between personal life and work

For those with kids who thought when you start working from home, you won’t need to spend money on childcare anymore as you are always around your offsprings, the home office can become a nightmare. If you don’t know what we mean, check out the video that quickly went viral. The way out is to set rules with your family about your work schedule and the hours when you cannot be interrupted. Try to explain to them you still have work to do even if you’re physically staying at home.

Make use of tech

                                   

There are plenty of apps and tools that can be used to boost productivity. Various time management and communications tools for teams, calendar-type and to-do list apps will help you achieve your work and personal goals. Do you feel you're spending too much time on social media? Tech has got you covered! The apps which track and limit social media usage will help you take a break from the virtual world and turn every wasted minute into a productive day.

Take a break and indulge a little 

It is a scientific fact that reward drives human action and stimulates motivation, with dopamine as the factor that causes wanting and craving. It's a good idea to break your tasks into smaller steps and reward yourself after completing them. However, keep in mind that the reward doesn't have to be food. No one wants to gain that extra 3 kilos, right?:) After finishing a portion of work, take some time off to listen to your favourite podcast or take a walk outside.