Tips to Maximize Productivity When Working From Home
Post updated April 26, 2023
If you’re one of the millions of Canadians who had to make the shift from working in an office setting to working at home during the height of the pandemic, you’ll know that it comes with a unique set of challenges. Many people have been able to return to the office, however, for just as many, working from home became a permanent arrangement.
The vast majority of our staff at BigSteelBox are in the same boat as you! Most of us transitioned from our desks at our stores and offices to our homes until early 2022. Today, many of our corporate office staff have embraced a hybrid workplace model where they work from home part of the time, but also spend several days in the shared office.
However, if working from home is new to you, it can take time to feel comfortable and get into a new routine. So, to help you through this transition, we’ve come up with some tips to make this process smoother so you can maximize your productivity (and comfort!) while working from home.
1. Keep work space separate from home space
When you begin working from home, you may be tempted to set up your computer on the kitchen table or living room coffee table. While this might seem like a comfortable spot at first, you’ll soon find that blending your home and work spaces opens the door to distractions.
We recommend setting up a dedicated office space that’s separate from your home space. Some of us may not have the space in our homes to make this happen, but if you’re able to set up an “office space” in another room of your home that is completely separate from your main living area (or better yet, has a door!), then you’ll be better able to focus and be more productive.
2. Get ready every morning
Try to go through the same type of routine as you would on a normal day when you worked at an office. If you’re lucky you might be able to sleep in a bit if you’re saving a lot of time on your morning commute, but you should still get up around the same time, shower, get dressed (doesn’t have to be “work clothes”, but maybe ditch the PJs!) and prepare for your day.
Having a routine will help your brain prepare for the work day, even though there won’t be the same change of scenery.
3. Declutter and make sure you have sufficient space
If you have a separate bedroom or den in your home that has become a storage space for your excess stuff over time, you may need to move some of it to make room for your new office. While moving excess items to your basement or garage may be an option, this may not be the best solution as it will just cause clutter in another area of your home, causing further disruption to your usual routine.
Opting to rent a portable storage container can solve these challenges. For most homeowners who just need to make a little extra space or clear out a couple rooms, we usually recommend renting an 8′ BigSteelBox.
An 8′ storage container is quite small and takes the same space in your driveway as an average car. So, rather than clutter another area of your home, why not rent a portable storage unit for as long as you need it, and have your items right outside your front door?
A BigSteelBox is extremely secure (they’re weather and rodent-proof) and they come equipped with a lock box that protects your padlock from bolt cutters. And, as always, we bring the storage to you using our contactless delivery system and you can keep it as long as your need it, but you also have the option of having your loaded container moved to one of our secure storage facilities where we’ll keep it until you need it re-delivered again.
4. Keep your work space quiet and limit distractions
Working from home may present new challenges in terms of distractions and noise. Maybe the neighbour is working outside with a hammer and nails, or maybe they’re mowing their lawn, or maybe you have kids who like noisy cartoons. Planning ahead by having a pair of headphones or ear plugs on hand to deal with noise that may cause you to lose focus could be a lifesaver.
5. Make lists and hold yourself accountable
Set goals and make lists of the things you need to accomplish each day so you can measure your productivity. It’s easy to get behind with no one watching or reminding you, or asking questions while passing by your desk.
6. Take breaks
Since your start time, lunch, breaks, and end times may be less structured while you’re working from home, be sure to consciously schedule your day. Make sure you take time to get out of your chair and walk around the house, or go for a bike ride or run to get some fresh air and clear your head.
One word of caution here would be around household chores and TV. It may be tempting to do some laundry or vacuum the floors (or catch up on that Netflix series you’re into!), which can all be great ways to spend a break, but just be sure to set a start and end time so you don’t get carried away with your household “to-do” list.
7. Set office hours and shut down at the end of the day
Because it’s a lot easier to start and stop projects at any time of day when you’re working from home you should set “office hours” for yourself. It’s healthier to keep your work and home lives as separate as you can so you don’t burn yourself out. This will also force you to use your time more wisely so you don’t get in the habit of putting things off because you know you can revisit it after dinner.
8. Schedule check-ins with co-workers
Obviously, the biggest difference between working in an office versus working from home is that you’re going to be alone. To many, the social aspect of the office work environment is very important. Being around other people can have positive effects on mental health, happiness, and give us a feeling of community.
If you’re already missing the physical team environment of the office, then it’s important to plan virtual check-ins with your manager or director, and those with whom you work most closely. Talk to the other members of your department about scheduling virtual or phone check-ins 2-3 times per week to make sure everyone is on the same page, give updates on the status of projects, and flag areas where you might need help.
Another great idea is to plan virtual get-togethers that are entirely social! If you usually meet up with co-workers after work on Friday for a drink or bite to eat before heading into the weekend, there’s no need to stop that completely. Talk to your company’s social club, or take on the task yourself of planning an online video “hangout” with colleagues on Friday afternoons. Each person can have their own drinks and snacks on hand for an hour of fun, light-hearted conversation to help keep that team bond and wrap up the work week, even though you’re not together in person.