Working from home: How to make it work for you


6 minutes read time

April 01, 2020

The one question on everyone’s mind is can I be as productive working from home as I am working from the office? A recent poll found that 51% of New Zealanders prefer working from home compared to working in an office and in another survey 65% of Americans said they were more productive working from home. It is very dependent on the environment that you are working in, for example, if you add in the factor of children at home you would probably prefer the usual office situation. However, now that we are forced to work from home, how can we make sure that we stay productive? Here are some useful ideas to help you adjust to this new style of working.

1. Keep a similar routine 

Get up early, eat your breakfast, get dressed and get to work. It’s important that we stick to a routine, to keep consistency in our lives. If we continue with familiar routines, it will be easier to work the full 8 hour day and adjust back to normal life when COVID-19 is over.  

2. Team communication

Not only can it get lonely working by yourself but you can also lose motivation. This is why you should make sure that you keep up communication between your colleagues and teams. First of all, you need to ensure that when you are working, your ‘status’ in the workforce communications tool (i.e., Slack) is set to ‘working, available or online,’ so the team knows that you can be reached. You should also regularly check your organization’s primary communication tools for updates and announcements. This will ensure you: 

  1. Stay motivated to get your work done.
  2. Know what everyone is working on.
  3. Make sure you are all working towards the same goal. 

At WhosOnLocation, we have added two 15 minute catch up meetings on top of our usual Monday team meeting. This enables us to raise any problems and ensures we have all the information we need to carry on with our work. 

3. Online meetings

To minimize the risk of meeting delays, you should remind your employees of good online meeting practices. As we all know, technology can sometimes test our patience, so it’s good to sign in a couple of minutes early to make sure everything is in working order. We should also do our best to make sure the environment where we’re taking calls with clients or team members is without distraction and is quiet.

4. Health and wellness

To get the most out of the day, we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves by staying fit and healthy. You can reduce the risks from display screen work by following some of these simple ideas:

  • Microbreaks 

A microbreak is a frequent break that lasts anywhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Evidence suggests microbreaks reduce muscle fatigue by as much as 20-50 percent in an eight-hour day. Regular breaks are better than longer breaks, so a 5 – 10-minute break after 50 – 60 minutes is better than a 20-minute break every 3 hours.

  • Proper desk chair posture

Poor posture (e.g., slumped shoulders, protruding neck, and curved spine) is the culprit of physical pain that many office workers experience. The way you are sitting can have a transformative impact on your day. It’s hard to imagine that we might be doing damage to our body by simply doing nothing. Nonetheless, our posture has a huge impact on our health, success, and overall happiness. It’s crucial to be mindful of the importance of good posture throughout the workday. Here’s how to achieve good posture: 

  • Adjust the chair height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are in line (or slightly lower) with your hips
  • Sit up straight and keep your hips far back in the chair.
  • The back of the chair should be somewhat reclined at a 100- to 110-degree angle.
  • Ensure the keyboard is close and directly in front of you.
  • To help your neck stay relaxed and in a neutral position, the monitor should be directly in front of you, a few inches above eye level.
  • Sit at least 20 inches (or an arm’s length) away from the computer screen.
  • Relax the shoulders and be aware of them rising toward your ears or rounding forward throughout the workday.
  • Exercise

When you neglect exercise, you’re putting both your physical and your mental health at risk, which can negatively impact your productivity and effectiveness at work. This is why you need to get up and move at some point of the day, even if it’s just a 15-minute walk or stretching exercises.

  • Eye fatigue

Computer use is a common cause of eyestrain. These self-care steps can help take some of the strain off your eyes: 

  1. Blink often to refresh your eyes. Blinking produces tears that moisten and refresh your eyes.
  2. Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by looking away from your monitor. 
  3. Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright light and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see objects on your monitor. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.
  4. Adjust your monitor. Position your monitor directly in front of you about an arm’s length away so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level.
  5. Adjust your screen settings. Enlarge the type for easier reading. And adjust the contrast and brightness to a level that’s comfortable for you.

5. Set boundaries with whoever is in your bubbles

Staying focused means removing any unnecessary distractions within your work hours. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate with the people in your bubble for the full 8 hours of the working day (remember you have microbreaks), but it means setting boundaries. For example make sure the people in your bubble aren’t watching TV too loudly or put up a do not disturb sign outside your workspace. This will help you stay focused throughout the day and keep your workspace as a work-only zone. 

(Note: it’s recommended to find a space that does not coincide with other activities such as sleeping or watching TV if possible)