For modern companies like Basecamp, Upworthy, Mozilla, Zapier and Buffer, working with remote teams and staff is not a new venture. Many modern businesses have built their operations around not having a central, corporate office. However, we are now seeing a greater number of companies switching to remote working due to the pandemic.

So how do you stay productive working from home?

This article covers productivity tips to help you make the most of your new-found working environment, how you can get the best out of yourself and how you can still manage a productive business. If you can successfully implement these strategies, you will be well on the way to creating an effective environment, making you and your team productive and above all else, benefits your well-being.

What Is Working Remotely?

Working remotely is the effective organisation of a workforce that doesn’t necessarily need to be in the same office space. Instead, staff can conveniently work from any location, on any timezone and connect and collaborate using online tools.

Working From Home Productivity Tips

Setup a home office

Your work area may have changed with the switch to working remotely, but you can still maintain the fundamentals of your typical working day. To keep your office structure, you’ll need to designate an area in your home as your office, kitted out with all the essentials like a firm chair, desk, fast internet connection, functioning laptop or desktop with headphones and camera. You are far more likely to stay focused if you have a dedicated working space.

Create a connected culture

Embracing a connected culture leads to significant gains in employee productivity and well-being for your organisation. A study by RingCentral showed employees at companies that promote a connected culture cite better emotional well-being (55%) than employees of companies that do not (48%).

80% of employees reporting high levels of emotional well-being say they are the same or more productive working from home.

Adopt a transparent and always communicative approach. Unified communication solutions like Dialog360’s unified communication (UCaaS) solution combines instant messaging, presence, phone calls, video calls and team video conferences into a single platform that allows teams members to stay in touch using many channels – perfect technology for working remotely.

A connected culture is more than just technology though; to increase productivity working from home, companies need initiatives that help employees feel more connected such as, frequent employee communications, virtual happy hours, peer chats and group video games.

Schedule your day

Without a schedule, you can find the lines between home-life and work-life blurring; Facebook scrolling can end up delaying when you start work and office time can end up creeping into your home-life. Working from home can be incredibly difficult without a structure or schedule.

When work starts, there is no couch-time, no extra tea breaks or scouring the fridge for some ‘brain-food’. You need to commit to your schedule and be disciplined – the benefit is when work-time is over, you can wind down and spend much-needed r & r (relax and relaxation).

Don't forget self-care

Separating work and home life can be difficult when they share the same physical location; taking breaks from work to focus on simple well-being activities becomes increasingly important.

Schedule regular breaks, take your lunch away from your desk, get outdoors. Do some physical exercise; there are many resources online, such as Joe Wicks and Chris Heria, to name a few youtube stars with home workouts that you can follow along for free. There’s no excuse not to schedule these breaks into your routine to free your mind and improve your health and overall well-being.

65% of people across UK, Germany and Spain are now more likely to consider their health in day-to-day decision-making - GSK

Have goals to keep you motivated

In case working from home makes you demotivated, you need to consider reacquainting yourself with your career motivation. A study by Berkely University suggests asking yourself questions about your career and life aspirations. Then identifying what steps you need to take to get there. Breaking these steps into milestones will help align your day-to-day tasks with your professional success and hopefully inspire the motivation you need.

Upskill professionally and personally

One benefit of working from home is the near-zero time to get home, making it ideal for learning new skills, whether towards your professional career or for your mind and well-being.

You can get involved in many courses from taking accounting courses to up your accreditation level to cooking lessons to help make you the next Gordon Ramsey!

Use this time to explore and pursue things outside of work-life; you’ll be more motivated to clock off and on if you’re actively exploring things that bring your joy.

Building a Productive Work From Home Business

Effective communication with your team

In the absence of body language, communication can become difficult; discussions can be even more difficult, assigning tasks and giving feedback over email can come across as dismissive, cold or unfriendly.

The key is to create a connected culture. There are proven well-being benefits, but there are considerable productivity benefits too. As the RingCental report highlights, when employers actively build a connected culture for remote employees, a dedication to building interactivity, employees report higher productivity and well-being levels.

Employees who feel more connected are more productive - 71% reported feeling more connected to their colleagues than before the pandemic.

Using technology like unified communication solutions (UCaaS) offers employees an array of communication option that they can use to convey their message in the right way. Employees can use instant messaging for short quick answers, phone or video calls for more meaningful face-to-face conversations for feedback and conferences for all-hands team meetings. And with all these channels in one single platform, communication is streamlined, team members do not need to switch to a phone to call or run another application for a quick instant message chat.

Revising your communication skills is also a great thing to do when moving to working from home the fundamentals of listening and finding better ways of communicating your message. Consider being more precise with your sentences, and understanding that short answers can come across as cold and open to misinterpretation. Finally, identify the right communication channel to use that will correctly convey your emotion, tone and message, whether that is an email, phone call, video chat, or team video conference.

Avoid micro-managing

Team members must manage themselves in a remote working environment no matter where they are or what timezone. Avoid the need to micro-manage, Birmingham University’s study found higher job satisfaction levels related to employees with greater control over their tasks and schedules.

Self-managing teams lead to greater productivity, ingenuity and creativity while reducing dependencies. Checking-in regularly with your manager will also keep you connected and put your manager’s mind at ease.

Technology for working remotely

There are many tools available to help you and your organisation in its home working endeavours. Instant messaging tools like Slack, Google Drive for file sharing are just some that have hit the market over the past few years which is analogous to the monumental drive towards home and remote working that has been underway long before the pandemic hit.

UCaaS solutions like that offered by Dialog360 are fast becoming an essential platform for businesses looking for a streamlined communication and collaboration experience. UCaaS unifies HD quality voice phone systems, with HD video chat. It brings together HD video conferencing and instant messaging and file sharing all under a single solution.

Cloud unified communication and collaboration delivers scalability, agility, and flexibility where businesses need forward-thinking tools as their leading competitors.

UCaaS unifies a multitude of communication and collaboration channels, so team members don’t have to juggle multiple applications. They can switch from voice to video seamlessly, can share files with customers and conduct video conference presentations all from the one platform.

UCaaS platforms run over the internet. As long as you have access to the internet, you can take your office with you – answering calls and joining in video conference calls with customers and team members from your mobile phone or IP desk phone from home or office.

There are also financial benefits to UCaaS products since these solutions use your internet, there is no need for high phone bills allowing businesses to reduce operating expenses.

Formalise processes

Concrete processes and procedures give remote teams structure and help remove confusion. Simple processes will ensure your team can work independently and get their tasks done.

Here are some steps you can take to provide some structure.

Kick-off meeting

Before any new project or milestone starts, it is essential to host a meeting with all stakeholders and team members to identify project goals and timelines. It is also an opportunity for team members to ask questions, identify unknown or problematic areas that might need further clarification and metrics to define what constitutes a completed project.

Daily meetings

With the project off the ground, it’s important to regularly check-in with team members to see if there might be any blockers that could derail the project. Simple virtual kanban boards are a great tool to visually see at any point how team members tasks are progressing. To foster a feeling of inclusivity, consider hosting these daily meetings in turn, so everyone feels seen and heard.

Feedback loop

Once the project or milestone has been completed and delivered, the team must have a feedback loop to identify what worked, what didn’t and how it can improve things for the next time.