How to Work From Home: Tips to Increase Productivity Outside the Office

Posted May 6, 2019 by Justworks in Managing Your Team
The ability to work remotely is a great perk, but many people aren’t sure how to work from home in a productive way. Here, find some of our top tips.

For many of today’s workers, being physically located in a specific place is no longer a requirement. With the abundance of laptops and wifi, working remotely is an option for more and more of us.

At Justworks, for example, managers are free to create flexible work schedules for their teams that allow for enhanced productivity. Remote work offers plenty of positive benefits for both employers and employees, whether it happens daily or only occasionally.

Related Article: The Bottom Line: Employee Happiness is Good for Business

If you’re not yet sold on the perks of remote work, here are some reasons that it helps to switch up your working environment if you can — and advice on how to work from home in a way that makes the most of your time.

The Benefits of Remote Work

Why It’s Important to Step Away From the Office

Limit Distractions

If you work in an office, you know how easy it can be to get distracted. Participating in back-to-back meetings, answering questions for a fellow co-worker, or taking lunch breaks with teammates are all important in their own right, but sometimes alone time and focus is needed as well. Removing yourself physically from the space on occasion offers the benefit of having uninterrupted blocks of time to focus on deep work.

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Save Commuting Time

Waking up early and getting home late due to a long commute can really take its toll. Avoiding the trip to and from the office saves both time and energy, which often means more work productivity. Plus, it improves people’s work-life balance by allowing them to check items off the at-home to-do list — like making it to the post office before it closes, or being around to sign for an important delivery.

Build Trust

Working from home can be a wonderful opportunity to increase trust between an employer and employee. It’s an opportunity for the employee to prove they can work outside of the office independently while maintaining open communication with team members. And as we’ve written before, improving team morale starts with trust.

How to Work From Home Productively

If you’ve decided to try out remote work for yourself, take full advantage of the opportunity. Here are some great tips around how to work from home, including ways to stay productive, maintain trust, and keep the lines of communication open.

Moderate ambient noise can help you focus more — choose your workspace (or playlist) accordingly.

Make Sure to Prepare

It should go without saying, but get the green light first. If you’re choosing a day to work outside of the office, check your calendar and make sure you don’t have any important events or meetings. Block out the time so people know not to book anything that day. Get approval from your manager, and inform your team by Slack or email to set expectations accordingly.

Set the Scene

Give some thought to where you want to work. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Home - Always an option, but a comfy bed that invites naps, or a long Netflix queue, may provide just as much distraction as an office workspace.
  2. A coffee shop - Cliché, but popular for a reason. Make sure your spot has a healthy wifi connection and allows laptops for sustained periods of time.
  3. Shared working spaces - Increasingly popular in most cities, coworking spaces offer flexible working arrangements in a fully-equipped environment.
  4. The library - Quiet, serene, and free of charge. The smell of old books is a bonus.
  5. Outside - If the weather permits, restaurant and bar patios and terraces make for scenic workspaces.

Dress the Part

It may sound silly, but if you decide to work remotely, dress like you’re going to work anyway. It’s an easy way to give yourself a mental cue that it’s time for work to happen, rather than relaxation. So change out of those pajamas, even if you are at home. It will make you feel more like getting down to work.

Find Your Groove

Do you work best when it’s quiet, or does silence make you squirm? Find the noise level that’s best for you. According to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research, a moderate level of ambient noise (around 70 decibels) increases productivity more than low and high ambient levels (50 and 85 decibels, respectively). If you’re working in a quiet place, find the music that really makes you tick, or invest in a white noise machine. It will make your workday more enjoyable and more productive.

Keep a Schedule

Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t be organized. Schedule your day ahead of time. When are you going to answer emails? What time is that conference call? When will you allow yourself to block out breaks and eat some lunch? Use a timer or calendar alerts to help yourself stay on track. If you lay the groundwork in advance, you’re more likely to adhere to it.

Track Your Time

Once you’ve set a schedule, track how well you actually stick to it. Did you spend 45 minutes writing reports, or did that actually take an hour and a half? If your employer is still having a hard time trusting you working remotely, this is also the perfect opportunity to show them how you spent your time and prove you can deliver results.

Take Smart Breaks

Nobody is built to concentrate for eight hours straight (or more). Take strategic breaks to boost your productivity. Social scientists suggest a range of times — work for 52 minutes and break for 17, work for 90 then rest a bit. And remember, not all breaks are created equal. Psychology Today suggests that activities like meditation, working out, or helping a colleague make effective breaks because they help with detachment and boost positive emotions. Experiment to find what works best for you.

Related Article: Improve Your Mental Health at Work With These 6 Midday Break Ideas

Keep Communication Lines Open

Working remotely can come with a higher level of responsibility. Keep your lines of communication open with your coworkers, boss, and clients. Stay on top of emails, keep Slack open, and let people know when you’re stepping away from the computer for lunch or a break. It will help prevent misunderstandings and establish your credibility as someone who can be relied upon to work independently.