The possibility to work from home is the goal for many. Remote jobs are becoming increasingly popular, and they are rumoured to be the future. How then can we make sure that by making the switch, we will stay productive while working from home?
After all, it is an entirely different lifestyle to adopt. You don’t have to worry about issues such as commute or office politics when you work remotely. However, a range of other challenges arises when you work from the comfort of your home - and you need to adjust to face them all.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Especially not if you have help! As usual, we’ve got your back, here at Europe Language Jobs.
Let’s start from the very beginning. This part may seem obvious, but is it, really?
May whoever has never been tempted to work from bed be the first to throw the stone.
No stones flying? Exactly.
Rolling out of bed in the morning is a huge battle. Not just for remote workers, but also for those travelling to the office. However, it is the former group who is at a bigger risk of giving in to the temptation of staying wrapped up in the sheets all. Day. Long.
Staying in bed while working from home may initially seem like a good idea, but it is really not. Think about it this way: your bed is your sanctuary. It should be treated as such.
Going to bed in the evening is a form of reward. You have worked hard and have earned the time to rest. If you stay in bed all day, returning to it in the evening won’t seem so special anymore.
Additionally, we are programmed to associate beds with rest and relaxation. Our brains will be very confused if we force them to focus while wrapped up in a duvet. You won’t be productive, and you know it.
Or even worse - the exact opposite will happen and you will start associating beds with work! Imagine feeling awake and focused every time you hit the sheets. It would be like trying to sleep on your desk.
Not to mention, working from home while curled up in bed cannot be healthy for your spine! Leave the bed, sit up, and work on!
You have left the bed. Congratulations! Step one to being productive while working from home accomplished.
Now, the second battle you will have to face as a remote worker is whether or not to change out of your pyjamas. We know it can be tough, and the odds are stacked against you.
We have already established that your bed is your sanctuary. If so, you should pay it the respect it deserves.
When you go to a party, you suit up or dress up. You wouldn’t attend your Aunt Marge’s 78th birthday clad in your funky pizza-print pyjamas, now would you?
Why would you then disrespect your bed by showing up to it in the same outfit you have spent all your day in?
Jokes aside, changing out of your PJs is simply a way to trick your brain into thinking you’re going out. For real. Even if you work from home and your only commute consists of the short trek from your bed to the desk or the table, doing it in everyday clothes will seem more formal.
You don’t necessarily have to dress smart - unless you want to. Slacks, skirts, and button-up shirts are not a must-have when you work from home if it’s not your cup of tea.
Unless, of course, you need to participate in an important video meeting with your camera on. Do dress smartly then.
Comfortable but appropriate clothes are perfectly fine. Putting on anything you would wear in public will motivate you to be more productive while working from home.
We already know where we shouldn’t work - the bed.
But where do we work, then?
The key to remaining productive while you work from home and keeping a healthy work-life balance at the same time is setting up space you will use solely for work.
Now, we are aware most people cannot convert an entire room into their remote office. If you do, that’s great - you should definitely do it. But don’t worry if not!
All we are saying is, don’t work from the couch just because we told you you can’t work from the bed.
The couch isn’t a proper office, either. The couch doesn’t count. It is basically a secondary bed. Get up.
If you have an entire house or flat to yourself, choose a corner where you will place your desk. If you are renting a room in a shared house, the room will likely come with a desk.
Keeping your workspace contained to one spot will help you reduce chaos. Imagine having Post-it notes, documents, and important files scattered all around your house. They can get dirty, torn, or lost.
Creating a designated working space is key to being productive while working from home. You will keep everything you need to do your job well within arm’s reach. You will also take care of your spine by sitting up at the desk, rather than hanging upside-down from the sofa.
Make sure to invest in the necessary equipment you will need for your home office. Set up your desk close to a window for access to natural light. Get a few plants - and not just for the aesthetics.
Being around nature and the colour green automatically brings us peace and helps us focus. Not to mention, you should take a break every hour to look outside the window or at your house plants - anything green to let your eyes rest!
There is no denying that offices are full of distractions. The general hum permeating the air, that noise the printer makes when it runs out of paper, that noise your colleague makes when they realise the printer has run out of paper, people making coffee, the water cooler spontaneously throwing up bubbles…
The one good thing about working in the office; however, is the constant supervision of your manager or boss. There is a part of you that feels anxious about spending too much time scrolling through Instagram, because someone else is able to see you procrastinating.
That worry evaporates when you work from home. Whether you work for a remote company or are your own boss as a freelancer, there is nobody else there to tell you what to do - and what not to do.
How do you deal with all the distractions lurking in the shadows, then? It can be your phone, your books, your TV, or your family or flatmates moving about around you.
It is always helpful to invest in noise-cancelling headphones. You can use them to play podcasts or music that will help you stay productive while working from home. If you can’t focus with something playing in the background, they can simply play the role of earplugs.
They will also make you seem busy, successfully discouraging anyone from approaching you with silly questions that can wait for later.
There is a special kind of software you can download on your phone or computer which will prevent you from accessing certain websites during working hours. You can set it up to block all social media notifications, successfully eliminating the distraction they provide.
Speaking of, there are plenty of useful apps for remote work that can make your life easier!
Other people can be the biggest distraction of all. And, unlike social media, there is no software you can use to block them out.
The only way to make sure the people you live with won’t bother you while you work from home is by talking to them.
Fully remote work is still something we are all getting used to. It can be difficult for some to associate you being at home all the time with you being actually busy.
If that seems to be the issue in your house, communicate it. Explain that while you may be there physically, you are also working. Make sure they understand that being at home doesn’t equal being available. Suggest they imagine you are in an actual office where they wouldn’t be able to access you as easily.
Of course, this might be more challenging to comprehend for children. Pairing parenthood with work from home is a real adventure. In such cases, you may consider signing your children up for daycare. It will allow them to make friends and have fun all day and let you be productive with no distractions. A win-win situation!
This productivity tip is helpful both for you and for others.
Working from home can easily blur the lines and negatively impact your work-life balance. It’s easier if your working hours are being monitored by your employer. That way, you are motivated to actually get up in the morning and finish on time.
However, self-employed remote workers do not have the privilege of someone watching over their time spent at work. It is very easy to be thrown off balance and do overtime.
For many, working from home decomposes their entire schedule. They allow themselves to sleep in or take multiple breaks throughout the day, and are consequentially forced to stay at work until late.
Others start early but finish too soon. There are also people who start early and finish late, ending up working too much.
Setting up official working hours will allow you to stay in control of working hours. It is also beneficial for your job, as it will act as guidance for your clients or partners. They will know when to contact you and when not to expect an instant response. That will prevent them from bothering you with calls while you are already enjoying your rest.
When working as a freelancer, setting up working hours will also make you appear more professional. You are free to decide how many hours you want to spend at work every week. You can also choose to be active during the day or at night, according to your preference.
Flexibility is probably one of the biggest advantages of working from home. Use it to your benefit, but don’t let it be your downfall.
Working at the office is never a constant productivity streak of 8 hours in a row every day. There are a lot of pointless exchanges which are had just for the sake of being had, real or fake pleasantries, watercooler debates over topics which are way less serious than everyone makes them seem, and so on.
Aside from the standard lunch break, office workers take a lot of small breaks. A quick trip to make coffee here, a stop-by at somebody else’s desk to “discuss an important issue” there.
We are all people. There is no way we can stay sharply focused for 8 hours straight, every day. Small breaks are even essential to remaining productive, according to many experts.
For this reason, do make sure you take breaks when you work from home. It is easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of answering emails, picking up phone calls, and carrying out everyday tasks.
However, don’t forget the other needs you have to cater to all day long. Hydrate. Get a tea refill. Water those plants. Have a snack. Take your dog for a week. Feed your cat.
We are not saying you should do all your laundry, clean the whole house, and run out to the store to get your weekly groceries during working hours. Don’t push it and stay within the limits of professional propriety.
Our point is that sometimes, it may not feel right to take breaks while working from home. I mean, we are already working from home. What do we need a break from? We are literally right there - at home.
But the truth is, work is equally exhausting in and outside of the office. Remote work does spare us the hassle of commute - that is true. It allows us to save some energy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to feel tired after a long day of working from home.
Taking breaks is essential to staying productive and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Don’t overlook it.
You may have hated having lunch at the same time every day when you worked from the office. It’s one of those elements of corporate life which seem designed to make us feel like robots. Let me eat whenever I want, goddammit!
But the truth is, scheduled lunch breaks have a justification.
First of all, eating your meals at set times is beneficial for your health. You train your body to expect an influx of calories at a specific time of the day, and failing to do so will upset your metabolism.
You have probably heard about the importance of eating small portions often, rather than inhaling large amounts of food with long breaks in between. Setting a meal routine is all about staying healthy!
Secondly, having lunch at the same time every day helps maintain a daily schedule. Lunch breaks usually mark roughly half of the working day. It is a good idea to keep them that way for the sake of giving your working life structure.
Another important thing is to allow for the lunch break to be an actual break. No eating in front of your computer, during a meeting, or taking a call. It can happen every once in a while, on an exceptionally busy day. But don’t make it a habit.
As we have already established, breaks are important. Aside from short breaks to stretch your limbs and make more tea, you need a proper, longer one. Depriving yourself of it won’t act in your favour.
Having some rest is necessary for remaining productive while working from home, so don’t skip it!
Spending half of your lunch break on making lunch is a waste. Cooking the night before or over the weekend will allow you to spend your lunch break actually eating lunch.
Working from home in close proximity to the fridge may make meal-prepping seem unnecessary. Being forced to only consume microwaved, Tupperware-friendly food was probably one of the reasons that drove you out of the office. Why on Earth would you subject yourself to this torture with unlimited access to the kitchen while working remotely?
Making food in the heat of the moment and under the pressure of time isn’t healthy. By prepping in advance, you can create a nutritious meal plan.
The convenience of services like hellofresh.com certainly makes meal prep much easier. It's an option for those seeking variety and time-saving. There are only so many dishes you can prepare in less than 30 minutes, and having them over and over gets old very quickly.
Think ahead and spend the weekend or the night before preparing a meal you will look forward to eating the next day. That way, you will be able to heat it up quickly and enjoy it as you should. There is nothing our metabolism hates more than eating on the run, so sit down, take a break, and eat your vegetables!
Communication may be a challenge when you’re separated from your colleagues or clients. It is especially important to stay on top of your emails when you work from home.
If you are part of a remote team, you most likely use a communicator such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Discord to stay in touch. This and the phone may be the quickest way to stay in touch with you, so make sure to check for notifications regularly.
Of course, no message will reach the other person as quickly and effectively as simply walking up to their desk and personally making sure they cannot ignore you. For that reason, you will need to equip yourself with lots of patience while working from home.
If you struggle with checking your email regularly and responding on time, set up reminders. This can be done through your phone, or work management software such as Asana, Hive, or Trello.
Chances are, your company will encourage you to use one of them. Maybe you will even be provided with a premium account, so squeeze it for all it’s worth!
We won’t lie. Working from home - despite its many advantages - can get lonely. This is especially true if you live on your own.
People are different. Some of us crave human interaction and will naturally go out to meet up with people. Others need to be reminded to get their daily dose of socialising done.
Social butterflies may find the lack of company while working from home especially challenging. Using the chat or the phone isn’t going to replace regular face-to-face conversations.
However, those who enjoy being home and don’t seek out social events on a daily basis also need to remember humans are social animals. Even if the prospect of an afternoon curled up with a good book on your sofa sounds more appealing than going out, do make the effort to socialise every now and then.
A lot of socialising is done by default - when leaving the house, going to work, or using public transport. Working from home, we lose some opportunities for that. You may not realise how lack of human interactions may grate on you until it’s too late.
Isolation can have a negative impact on our mental health. Stay safe, stay sane, and go out to talk to people!
We hope our tips will help you stay productive while working from home. Switching to a remote lifestyle can be challenging, but it also has numerous benefits. Each style of working has its pros and cons, and the key is to adjust accordingly and make the best of it.
Different methods work for different people, so don’t be afraid to test out various scenarios and choose the ones that fit you. Our advice consists of easy steps everyone can take to stay productive while working from home, but if you have your own methods, feel free to share them in the comments!