Remote Work Environments and Productivity
This is the second in a series of posts written collaboratively by Dr. Michele Andorfer and Mike Haynes.
In our last post, we scratched the surface on what we believe are the three most important considerations for the remote work environment--productivity, relationships and self-care. In this post, we will further explore the notion of productivity, and steps everyone can take to ensure that the quality and quantity of work does not diminish simply because of the work location.
Being conscious of productivity is as, if not more important for the remote work environment. As such, we have identified three key considerations. First, having a set place to “work” within the home reduces distractions and maintains results. Similarly, maintaining a daily routine ensures that your energy level and productivity remain relatively consistent. Finally, establishing ways to hold yourself accountable is also important.
Establishing a set place to work -
Working remotely can present several challenges, especially if the location is your home. And the reason is distraction. The dog needs to be let out, you’re craving that slice of leftover pizza that’s in the fridge, the weather is nice, your phone dings with an email or text alert--the list could go on.
Being aware of the things that trigger your becoming distracted is the first step. Once you are aware, you can work to avoid them. Fill your home office with things that trigger your enthusiasm for the work rather than your hobbies. Close the door so that the dog(s) (or your spouse) doesn’t wander in. If your phone is your distraction, put it in a different room where you cannot access it until you take a break.
Maintaining a daily routine -
Planning a productive daily routine begins the night before. At the end of each day, take 10 minutes to create a schedule and set some goals for the next day. Write down appointments/meetings you have and identify the blocks of time you have available for working on your goals. This practice of preparing the night before eliminates wasting time in the morning and creates immediate focus on the things you want to accomplish for the day.
In addition to creating a schedule for the day, having a consistent daily routine also helps to increase productivity. Simple things like getting up at the same time, getting dressed for work and being at your desk at the same time provides the consistency and organization our brains need to be productive.
Within the daily routine it’s also important to schedule breaks, time to eat and time to get some physical activity. Working without breaks often leads to anxiety and fatigue. By forcing yourself to take the needed break, your brain is re-energized and your creativity and productivity increases.
Holding yourself accountable -
Holding yourself accountable can be challenging when you are working in an environment by yourself. That’s why it’s important to have clear deadlines and expectations for what you want to accomplish each day and work on those items until they are completed. If the task is not completed at the end of the work day as anticipated, there needs to be some reflection into why. Was it because getting it done in one day was not realistic? Or was the work not completed due to wasted time?
Another great way to hold yourself accountable is with an accountability partner. Some people work with their accountability partner daily and others weekly. Accountability partners share their goals with each other and then report back their progress. Having to report your progress to someone else often provides the motivation to get it done.
Productivity and teams -
If you are coordinating the remote work of a team, we recommend these three strategies:
First, ensure that your team has the tools needed to work effectively from home. If the remote work situation is not temporary, we recommend looking into software/project management tools that can assist with the workflow and productivity of the team. Second, set goals, deadlines and clear expectations. Finally, schedule virtual regular meetings at a minimum weekly. We believe that there’s no better way to ensure your team’s productivity doesn't lag than to face each other on a regular basis.
If you have any feedback, please let us know. In our next post, we will explore ways to build and nurture relationships when working remotely.