Productivity in the Era of Remote Work

Yes, it is a great option for many companies, but it is also a reality that some people can have a hard time staying productive after a while.

Productivity in the Era of Remote Work

A lot of us might have been working from home before the pandemic and still are doing that. Some might have started as quarantines and lock-downs began. And some may be returning to a home office regime because cases are spiking up again. Either way, the thing is that several of us are working remotely. And yes, it is a great option for many companies, but it is also a reality that some people can have a hard time staying productive after a while, and for a myriad of reasons. So, let's talk about how to mitigate that and, hopefully, be as productive as you would be in an office context.

The first thing that you will find on every blog and article about remote working is to find or create your own office space at home. This, of course, doesn't mean that you should build a new room in your house or that you have to go into a big make over to work, but you should have a dedicated space for your office hours so that your brain can switch easier between home/rest mode and work/focus mode. This same advice goes for clothes. You don't have to work in suit if you are staying home. But try not to get stuff done in your pajamas.

As with office space and office attires, office hours can also blur with house chores and resting time and make you live in an undefined blob where you are always working but never giving your 100% because you also have to take care of lunch and you haven't slept well for a while. This eventually might lead to burnout and exhaustion and you certainly do not want that. What I'm trying to say here, is that this was the long version of: have a schedule and stick to it. It might be counterintuitive at first glance, but having a schedule makes you more productive than just "working" all day. Deadlines keep us focused and give us a sense of urgency to complete a task. And also, you are not multitasking 24/7.

Another usual recommendation you'll find is to get some way of the 'water cooler chat'. I can't really vouch for that because I've never had those at the places in which I've worked. But you should definitely stretch your legs and, if possible, get out for a couple of minutes. Maybe right after lunch get out of your apartment and take a walk around the block; go for a few minutes to nearby park. After all, that's part of the joy of remote working, isn't it? you are not bound to one specific space. You'll get refreshed and get a second wind to tackle the remaining part of the day. (Note: if you are going out in 2020, take all the safety precautions) Oh, and while you are at it, remember to take care of your eyes too. Let them rest every few hours. There are great tips and exercises for that online.

That being said, it is important you don't take that advice as a sign to slack off for hours, because then you will be playing catch-up with the work you didn't do when you where supposed to, and now you are working at 9 p.m. and OH MY GOD, JUST END THIS. Block social media notifications from your phone if necessary and get some chrome extensions for productivity if you think that will help you focusing. Office hours work only if you ACTUALLY work at office hours.

But sometimes, inevitably, things will be too much to handle. You have a lot of work to do because it is a very decisive week for your company, your house is a mess because you haven't had time to clean up stuff, and you are tired. In that case, just breathe, accept things will be a bit messy for a few days, and remember that that, too, will pass (and somehow force yourself to make sure that is the case) and you will go back to your awesome life in which you just happen to work from home.