So, you’re still working from home in 2021. You’ve either really hit your stride and enjoy the flexibility, or you’re feeling the work from home slump.

With 42% of the U.S. workforce working from home full-time during the pandemic, many organizations have had to make significant adjustments in their teams, and employees to their own personal work habits. 

Once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available later this year, a large number of companies plan to ask their employees to return to the office. However, some employees are expressing their resistance to this idea. 

In fact, 29% of working professionals say they would quit their jobs if there is no option to continue working remotely, according to an online survey of 1,022 professionals by LiveCareer, an online resume and job search consulting service.

But seriously, working from home brings a whole new set of distractions and difficulties as we all have learned throughout these past months. 

If you’re starting 2021 in a slump, here are some tips that have helped us in our 7 years as a remote team and below are our tips to stay motivated and efficient while working from home. 

  • Set Alarms. Even if you don’t have to wake up early to leave for the office, you should still set an alarm and commit to waking up at the same time everyday. This will keep you on a healthy sleep schedule. Also, alarms can be used for more than just getting you out of bed. Consider adding an alarm for lunch and wrap-up, since working from home tends to blur these lines. 
  • Pack a Lunch. Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. So, when it’s time for lunch, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks, which might not always be the healthiest option. 
  • Turn off Social Media Notifications. If you love scrolling through social media, it may become distracting while working from home. Make a point to turn off your social app notifications to better focus during workday hours. Setting screen limits can also help manage time spent on social media.
  • Communicate with your Family. Set and stick to specific work hours and communicate those hours clearly with your family and friends. This can be hard to do, especially if you have children or pets at home, all of whom want your attention. Of course, it is then important to be present for your family and friends when away from work. Show up 100% to work and then put business away outside of work hours.
  • Find your White Noise. Turn on some music that inspires you to be productive, but also does not distract you. Most music apps have playlists made to help you be productive. If music isn’t for you try a white noise machine or app. This really helps to reduce noise distractions around your work area.
  • Mimic a Commuting Ritual. Beyond coming up with a work schedule, a morning routine can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy mindset and staying on track while working from home. Fill up your water bottle, walk the dog, stretch, exercise, change out of the PJ’s — whatever it takes. Commit to a “commuting ritual” and try your best to keep it going. It’ll help your mind realize your day is about to start. 
  • Make time for Self-Care. It might feel weird to say you need a mental health day when you are already at home, but self-care is equally important whether going to an office or at home. To create that separation and truly enjoy the day off, don’t touch your laptop, turn off notifications, and do something for you. Cook, do a crafty project, or get outside to see your friends — whatever helps you have de-stress. The next day you will come back to work feeling refreshed and ready for the projects ahead.  
  • Get your Tech Together. Nothing is worse than trying to give a presentation to your team and having to fumble with the tool you are using. Make an effort to know the ins and outs of the new technology you use while working from home so you can feel prepared and confident. 
  • Commit to doing more. If projects tend to take longer than you initially think they will, try to underestimate how many things you’ll accomplish during the day. A reasonable goal could lead to achieving more rather than expected and leave you feeling better. Don’t forget to take into account how many meetings you have as that will impact how much focused time you have to complete your tasks. 
  • Work when you’re at your most productive. Your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. So, when you’re working from home it’s important to know when those ebbs and flows will take place and plan your schedule around it if you can. 
  • Save calls for the afternoon. If you’re struggling to be awake and an active telecommuter, start with the solitary tasks in the morning. Save phone calls, meetings, and other collaborative work for when you’ve officially “woken up.”
  • Interact with other humans. You’re working from home, not mars. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed, even if they’re not your coworkers. In fact, it’s a good idea to see another face during the day when most of your workday is solitary.
  • Know your WFH weaknesses. If you’re easily distracted, get ready for work every morning like you are going to physically go into work. If you’re the type of person who never takes a break at home, set a timer to take time for lunch, and turn off your work. Whatever is your weakness, identify it and work to change it. 
  • Interact with the team. Choose web meetings over phone calls whenever you can. Being able to share screens and see faces enables better communication, and all together gives you a chance to connect with your team better. 
  • Create a stress-free zone. As you know, working in an office can get pretty wearing but working at home is not a cakewalk either. Find a place in your home or apartment away from your workspace to take breaks and de-stress. This safe space will help you decompress from your workday.
  • Beware of idle snacking. Overeating is a longtime occupational hazard of working from home and it can be hard to avoid the temptation for eight hours straight. Stocking healthy snacks helps. 

So, whether you’re ready to get back to the office, or you’re loving remote life, keep up the good work. Try one suggestion at a time to improve your work from home routine. 

We are available for free consults to help our industry make smart communications solutions as we face this unprecedented crisis. Click here to schedule a complimentary 45-minute call with me. I’d love to hear how you’re handling COVID-19 within your company.

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