As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever before are working from home. According to Gallup, nearly 40% of full-time workers did their jobs remotely in 2020 compared with just 4% before the pandemic. As working from home stretches into another year, professionals may need a few tips on how to boost at-home productivity and advance their careers.
To learn more, check out the infographic below, created by Rider University’s online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
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How to Adjust to Remote Work
Everyone is familiar with the perks of working from home (WFH): no commute, casual dress every day and no need to pack a lunch, to name a few. But that doesn’t mean WFH is without its pitfalls.
The Challenges Created by a Lack of Boundaries and In-Office Engagement
Commutes to and from the office help establish boundaries between our professional and personal lives. When those disappear, people may struggle with unclear work expectations, a lack of understanding about WFH accountability practices, and feeling like they’re not being seen and heard. They may also struggle with confidence, feeling like their bosses don’t trust them, and with establishing boundaries with colleagues. In general, WFH can foster an overall sense of disconnect from teams and workplaces, which can lead to feeling isolated, something one study shows can reduce a person’s productivity by up to 21%.
How to Best Adjust Your Daily Routine
Setting and sticking to a schedule is good for both your mental health and productivity. In particular, you should aim to sleep regular hours and stick with your in-office routine — getting up at a normal time, getting dressed for work to help signal to your brain that you’re ready to be productive and making sure to disconnect at the end of the day to do something fun. Struggling to log off? Consider a fake commute, such as taking a long walk to help your brain recognize it’s personal time.
When it’s work time, make sure your brain knows that too. If you can, work near a window to maximize serotonin. But wherever your office space is, make sure it’s designated as a work area with minimal distractions to help you avoid feeling like you live at work.
Tips for Being Productive Working from Home
WFH eliminates office distractions, but it also introduces new ones. The key to maximizing productivity is figuring out what you need to do your best work.
What You Can Do on Your Own
To boost your productivity, take care with your schedule. Start with meetings: Too many might be annoying, but the human contact helps curb isolation and connects you to your team. Make sure you find some time between meetings to work out, too. Not only is a little exercise good for you physically, but it helps improve memory. Try the Pomodoro Technique to manage your schedule: Pick an item off your to-do list, spend 25 minutes working on it, take a five-minute break and then repeat four times, taking a longer break at the end.
What You Should Keep in Mind When Communicating with Your Boss
You should instigate communication with your boss as frequently as necessary and keep the lines of communication open. Ask them direct questions: What am I doing right? What could I improve upon? What would you like to see more of? If you find your communication to be disruptive, tell them what your preferred communication style is.
No matter what, make sure that you’re seeking out clear expectations so you can be accountable for your own work. A good way to make sure your instructions are clear is to ask yourself a couple of key questions: Do I know what my boss expects from me? Is it achievable? If the answer is no to either question, it’s time to talk with your manager.
Advancing Your Career from Home
The pandemic has a lot of people feeling stuck professionally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself out of your own work slump.
How to Grow Your Skills and Build Your Reputation
The extra time at home is a great opportunity to figure out how to build your brand. Update your LinkedIn page, personal portfolio or other pages to include more specifics about you. Then, identify your weak spots and take action. Virtual courses, many of which are available for free, can be easier to slot into a remote schedule.
In the office, you can volunteer to pitch in on projects outside your comfort zone, which will have the added benefit of growing your network. Figure out who has the career you want or who has been where you are. Try to reach out to them for mentorship. Take advantage, too, of the virtual events most industries have shifted to. They’re a great opportunity to network.
How to Indicate You’re Ready for a Promotion
If you want a promotion, you need to let your boss know you’re ready for it. To start, make sure your boss knows who you are and what you want. Make sure they know you’re keen, be explicit about what you want and let them know when you score a win or contribute a big idea. Also, make sure you’re on the same page. Find out what your boss’s priorities are and how you can support them; make yourself indispensable.
WFH Doesn’t Have to Be Bad for Your Career
WFH doesn’t have to put a damper on your career goals or leave you feeling isolated or uncertain about your value as an employee. Not only can you still be productive remotely, but you can also score a promotion with a proper schedule, clear lines of communication and strong, clear boundaries between your personal and professional lives.