Digital-first business operations are more common than ever before. Whether you want to attribute that change to a pandemic or an NBN rollout, the trend aligns with the changing needs of working Australians.
The COVID-19 shutdowns saw almost half of Australia’s working population move to remote working. Recent studies have shown that, if given the choice, 78% of us would like to continue spending at least part of our working time at home. While there are obvious perks to this – no commute time, flexibility and comfort of a familiar environment – working remotely can also have adverse impacts on wellbeing and productivity. Here are some tips to help you ensure that long-term remote working is as productive and as mentally healthy for you as possible.
1. Maintain a routine
Whether it’s getting ready in the morning (yes, out of your PJs) to scheduling the lunchtime gym sessions you used to do when you were in the office, try to incorporate as much of that office routine into your work-from-home environment (also see: point 2).
Another great tip is to pack your lunch and snacks just as you would if you were bringing them to work. Doing this means you can avoid getting too distracted by deciding what to eat or by doing other things around the house.
2. Stick to your regular work hours (and the breaks)
With commute times out the window, chances are you’re now using that extra time to catch up on emails or try to get ahead before the official working day begins. It’s so important for your mental health to be able to adequately separate work and life, which is especially challenging if, like most of us, your office is also your home. Start your day at the time you normally would, and finish at your normal time. Take breaks for some fresh air and a stretch or to give your eyes a rest from staring at a computer screen. When you do take a break, make sure you’re doing something completely unrelated to work so that you can reboot your focus.
Also get into the habit of using out-of-office replies if you’re away from your desk for a half or full day, and keep your colleagues and clients updated so that they know when to reach you. Setting the work boundaries is important to avoid mental burnout, so that when you do clock off for the day, you can properly switch off and refresh for the following day.
3. Mix up your work environment
If your job usually requires off-site meetings, chances are that’s all happening over video calls now. As such, you may find yourself staying in one place too long, which – for some people – can inhibit creativity and productivity.
Mixing up your working environment can help to curb that monotonous, ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling. Try booking out space at your local library or a co-working space, or work half a day in your favourite cafe (For an extra challenge, don’t bring along your laptop charger and see how fast you can get things done!) You could even ‘home office pool’ with colleagues who might live nearby, so that you can create a mini co-working space and bounce ideas off each other, etc.
4. Stay social
Being social with colleagues is one major part of office life and fostering a healthy team culture. Unsurprisingly, research demonstrates that loneliness is one of the biggest challenges of remote working, as it removes the natural social interaction that comes with being in the same room as your colleagues.
Here at The Bubble Co our team has always operated virtually, but we do try organising bi-monthly lunches or social activities with the team, where we travel to a new area and try out a different place to eat each time. In between the in-person meetings, it’s important to still check in over channels such as Teams, Slack or a WhatsApp Group to keep things light and not always centred around work.
5. Make sure you're equipped
This sounds obvious, but making sure you’re equipped with all you need to get your job done is going to max your productivity. Do you need a printer? What about software updates or new applications? Make sure you have everything you need and – most importantly – you know how to use it all so that you can hit the ground running every day.
Whether your team has made the shift to remote working or is in the middle of such a transition, it can be a big adjustment to daily routines and company culture. The recommendations above have worked for us here at The Bubble Co, so we hope they set you and your team up for success, too!