Last year, remote working was thrust upon us, with some employees having minimal exposure to working from home and many having doubts about whether it could actually work.

A year on, and we’ve learnt that WFM models can work. Despite our unique personalities and varying work styles, we’ve adopted strategies to keep us motivated and disciplined despite the distractions and temptations of home life.

However, in the face of the progress we’ve made, remote working presents a set of challenges that we can’t ignore, especially since office environments aren’t going anyway.

Learn to harness your productivity and work harder by following these hacks and tricks.

Maintain Regular Hours

A common observation from remote workers is that they're working longer hours. Clocking out later isn't necessarily a good thing for individuals because it blurs the boundaries between work and home life. Without this distinction present, people are spending their evenings grafting when they should be recharging and mentally preparing themselves for the next day's workload.

Overworking shouldn't be celebrated or praised because it can lead to mental burnout and hamper productivity.

That being said, remote working sometimes demands a higher level of flexibility, primarily if you work with overseas clients or colleagues located in different time zones. If you do need to work earlier or late, remember to gain that personal time back by wrapping up earlier in the evening or starting later the next day if your manager approves.

Pack up your laptop and keep visual work reminders out of sight might help you stop thinking about work and switch off when the workday ends.

...remember to gain that personal time back by wrapping up earlier in the evening or starting later the next day if your manager approves.

Know What’s Expected of You

To avoid problems down the line, have regular transparent and honest conversations with your leaders or manager about what's expected of you.

This might not always be easy, considering that you can't clear up misunderstandings with a quick chat at the desk.

Therefore, if your supervisor hasn't scheduled them yet, request weekly one-on-one and teaming meetings to discuss future projects, the week ahead and your assigned tasks so that you're never behind on your work or tackling a task incorrectly.

Keep A Tidy Desk

You can still make the best out of an imperfect office environment by decluttering your desk.

Although this isn’t true for everyone, research shows that a workstation dominated by mountainous piles of paper compromises your brain’s capacity to process information correctly.

Designating areas for different projects, materials and personal effects and discarding non-essential is called desk scaping and is a task that can help you work more efficiently.

You can still make the best out of an imperfect office environment by decluttering your desk

Stick To Ground Rules

By now, we've experienced the teething problems linked to working from home with children, spouses and roommates around.

If you haven't already, talk to your offspring. They need to know what they can or can't do. Make it clear that you might be home more and for the foreseeable future, but that you aren't always available.

If you live with other adults, you'll need to discuss and negotiate quiet times for work, meetings and the shared use of equipment to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Work On Your Biggest Tasks When You’re Most Productive

Bigger tasks require deep concentration to perform, so commit to working on what's more important when you know you're at most productive. This time may vary among people, so it'll be worth your while to find out when that is.

Block out smaller work commitments, make yourself unavailable and ensure there aren't distractions to break your concentration during this critical time.

Draw Up A To-do List The Day Before

Probably the last thing you feel like doing after a heavy workday is plan your schedule for the next day.

However, because you’re in full work mode, the task will be easier and faster to complete than the following day when you’re still waking up.

Top tip for compiling your daily to-do list is to keep it brief so that you’re not overwhelmed by the magnitude of work that lies ahead of you.

If you’re looking to manage your time better and make deadlines, tools like the Eisenhower Matrix are a huge time-saver and work life organiser. The Eisenhower matrix helps you to rank tasks according to priority and importance in four quadrants. This way, you can focus on urgent work that must be handled immediately, schedule low-priority tasks, delegate essential work to others, and scrap non-essential tasks.

Top tip for compiling your daily to-do list is to keep it brief so that you’re not overwhelmed by the magnitude of work that lies ahead of you.

Keep A Not-to-do List

Without having a boss loitering around, it’s easy to fall into bad habits, like checking Facebook, watching cute Dodo videos or checking the fridge for snacks for the umpteenth time.

If you’re guilty of wasting company time here and there on personal activities, draw up a list of forbidden things you aim to avoid during the day, or at least until break time.

Breakup Your Day

We don’t need to remind you that working throughout the day, missing lunch, and being glued to your screen isn’t good for you and certainly doesn’t bolster your productivity.

Usually, companies have policies about breaks, which you should think to apply to your work schedule at home.

Take short tea breaks and a longer intermission over lunch. Don’t short change yourself by heading back to your desk before your dedicated “me-time” is over.

Moving around throughout the day is necessary for blood circulation, so make sure to keep active during the day, even if it’s just standing up and moving around the room.

Suffering from cabin fever and being isolated from the outside world can make you feel disconnected and isolated and unintentionally affect your work quality. If you’re feeling alone or pent up in a stuffy apartment, spend tea breaks outdoors or stroll around the neighbourhood for fresh air and to see other people on your block.

If you’re feeling alone or pent up in a stuffy apartment, spend tea breaks outdoors or stroll around the neighbourhood for fresh air and to see other people on your block.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If you’re struggling with the workload or find your office equipment is letting you down, reach out.

Even though in-person workshops haven’t made a comeback, you can still ask your boss for additional training online if it enhances your performance or teaches you new soft skills. Customarily, companies have a budget for these kinds of things.

Additionally, although your company probably can’t replace your entire workstation with a new one, asking for items such as a new mouse, keyboard for back support cushion that help you work faster or comfortably isn’t as big an ask as you might think. It might be of paramount importance if your current work situation is obstructing your performance.

Let us guide you

We know the search process for a new workspace can be overwhelming, that’s why our team are here to help through every step of the way.