In light of recent events, an increasing number of companies are making the switch and asking staff to work from home.
For some, this is a big change, but for others, remote working is already part of the day to day culture of the business. At Xref, we are proud to have a number of successful remote workers (our "Remote Warriors" as we like to call them!), so we picked their brains on their top tips for productivity when outside the office.
1. Enjoy the morning
One of the great benefits of working from home is that there is no daily commute to the office. With your morning freed up, this is a perfect opportunity to take some time to ease into your working day and not spend the first hour shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers on a packed bus.
Brad Bilinsky, our Sales and Account Manager for South and Western Australian, agreed, saying, “I’m a morning person, so I enjoy a good breakfast, coffee and time to catch up on tasks and the news.”
2. Factor in exercise
For Rebecca Gardner, our Sales and Account Manager in Melbourne, morning exercise is key, she says, “Exercise first thing, it wakes you up and gets you into a positive headspace.”
But whether it’s in the morning or evening, all our remote workers agreed that making some time for daily exercise is key. Whether you prefer heading to the gym or taking the dog for a walk, exercise has been shown to reduce stress and increase creativity, helping you to have a more productive day.
3. Get dressed properly
Our remote and home-based staff unanimously agree that getting dressed properly each day for work is critical. People often joke that they would love to be at home and work in their pajamas but, in reality, getting dressed as if you are heading to the office puts you in ‘work mode’. It also ensures you look professional with all those video meetings you’ll be having.
4. Differentiate work and life
Making a conscious effort to differentiate your work and personal lives can be a challenge when you’re working from home. If you have the luxury of a spare room, take advantage of the space and set up your office so that you can walk out at the end of the day and shut the door. It’s also important to be wary of the lines between work and personal life blurring. Be sure to stick to your working hours as much as possible, and leave your to-do-list for the next day instead of taking it into your evening.
“If you don’t have space for a separate office, make a conscious effort to pack your “desk” away at the end of the day so you don’t spend your whole evening staring at it. You need to switch off to be productive the next day.” Lorna Hegarty, Head of Brand and Comms at Xref
5. Create a positive environment
We all feel productive in different ways, so now’s your chance to create a work environment at home that is tuned into your personal preferences. Fill your space with indoor plants or simply clear away all the clutter. Play the music as loud as you like, or keep it off and enjoy the peace and quiet. Whatever you decide to do, consider how it will impact your productivity and be sure to create a space that inspires you to do your best work.
6. Plan for productivity
Everyone has their own way of planning their time, however, one great tip is to get into the habit of writing your to-do list for the next day, before you finish up. It can be frustrating to get to your desk in the morning without an idea where you should start and no colleagues around you to help kick start your thinking from the day before. Also, consider your most difficult tasks and try to get them out of the way as early as possible to avoid procrastination and put you in a positive mindset for the rest of the day’s activities.
“It’s important to break the day into chunks. As a salesperson making a lot of daily calls, I try to do 1.5 hour stretches and commit to making a certain amount of calls within that time (then you have earned a cup of tea!) I find focusing on 1.5 hour chunks at a time rather than worrying about the whole day a better way to stay agile.” Wayne Ramsey, Sales and Account Manager at Xref
7. Stay connected
In some cases, working from home can actually help you to stay more connected with colleagues as it encourages you to have intentional and meaningful conversations. Be sure to set up regular meetings with your colleagues and take advantage of great tech platforms, such as Zoom and Workplace which are both adopted by the Xref team globally. But also remember to be human and not feel like you can’t have the same lighthearted and fun conversations with colleagues that you might have in the office kitchen or corridors.
“I have a sense of humour and am naturally a social person, so sharing memes and jokes around the team helps me stay connected and gives people a sense of who I am!” Gemma McLean, Account Executive at Xref
8. Pick up the phone
While video platforms make remote meetings a lot more manageable, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone for a chat. Distancing yourself and leaving interactions to formal, agenda-driven meetings only can have a detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing while working remotely.
A phone call is also a valuable tool when you’re working to a deadline. If you were in the office and needed something from someone, you wouldn’t be afraid to approach them at their desk. Rather than relying on messages and having to wait for a response, call them. If they can’t answer, they won’t!
And one final bonus tip from Ben Reynolds, our Melbourne-based Account Executive, would be to remove distractions, particularly squeaky dog toys… “One thing I have to remember in my home office is to remove the crocodile squeaky toy out of reach of my dog, Bruce, before jumping on an online demo as he always thinks that is the best time to play.” It would be hard to say no to that face though, wouldn’t it!