• Doing a time inventory will help you gain more control over your schedule, and increase productivity
• When working from home, it’s incredibly important to create boundaries between your work life and your personal life—starting with creating a physical separation between the two
• Creating a firm separation between the workspace and the rest of the home will help your team separate work time from down time
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, more companies than ever are shifting their operations from working in a central office to working remotely. But for people who have never worked from home, the transition can be a challenging one—especially when it comes to business productivity.
But you, your team, and your business don’t have to take a productivity hit as you make the WFH transition—all you need are the right productivity hacks.
Let’s take a look at the strategies you’ll need to keep yourself, your team, and your business productive while working from home:
Do a Time Inventory
If you want to ramp up your business productivity when you work from home, you need to know where your time is going. And the best way to do that? A time inventory.
A time inventory is…well, exactly what it sounds like. It’s the process of tracking your time so you can gain a better understanding of where your time is going—and, more importantly, where you can take some of time back, get more control over your schedule, and increase your productivity.
But how, exactly, do you take an inventory of your time?
Use a digital time tracking tool (like Time Doctor or Toggl) and track how you spend your time for an entire week—both in and out of work hours. The more detailed and specific you can get with your time tracking, the better your results.
So, for example, instead of categorizing your 10am to 1pm block as “work,” dig into the details of what you were actually doing. Did you spend 10am to 10:45am having a video conference with your team, then 10:45am to 11am reading the news, and then 11am to 1pm processing customer orders? Those details are important—so write them down.
Once you’ve gathered an entire week’s work of data (most time tracking tools have reporting features that visually map how you’re spending your time), it’s time to dig in and gain insights into where your time is going. Are you spending a lot of time reading the news or scrolling through your social media accounts? Is administrative work taking time away from more important, pressing business tasks? Is your shipping process overly complicated—and taking hours every week to manage?
Once you know how you’re spending your time, you can look for opportunities to automate or outsource tasks. And once you get those tasks off your plate, you can free up your time to focus on what’s important—both in your business and in your personal life.
Separate Work Life from Home Life
When your home is your office and your office is your home, the lines between work life and personal life can become blurred. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself doing laundry when you should be working with your team—or working on a presentation when you should be spending time with your family.
And when that happens, it can make it challenging to be fully engaged with either your work or your personal life—and your productivity in both areas suffers.
That’s why when you’re working from home, it’s incredibly important to create boundaries between your work life and your personal life—starting with creating a physical separation between the two.
Here’s what to tell your team to make sure they separate their workspace and their home space:
If you’re going to be working from home, create a designated workspace within your home. The size isn’t important; it can be a separate office or a dedicated space within an existing room. Let your partner, children, family, or roommates know that when you’re in that workspace, you’re at work—and unless there’s an emergency, you’re not to be disturbed. Then, manage all your work from that workspace—and only from that workspace. No working on the couch, in bed, or at the kitchen table. Once you leave that workspace, it’s time to engage with your home and personal life—and leave work behind.
It sounds trivial, but creating a firm separation between the workspace and the rest of the home will help your team separate work time from down time—which will make it easier for them to be fully engaged (and productive!) both at work and at home.
Schedule Face-to-Face Time with Your Team
Working from home can feel isolating—especially if you’re used to working in an office and having a lot of face-to-face interaction with your team. And for many people, that isolation can lead to a decrease in business productivity.
Unfortunately, getting your entire team in the same place for a productive work session just isn’t possible right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the face-to-face time you need to stay connected, energize yourself and your team, and make your days productive—all you need is the right video conferencing software.
A video conference is the next best thing when you can’t share an office space with your team—and it can be a much more productive, collaborative experience than working in at-home silos.
Need to come up with new and innovative ways to reach and support your customers during this challenging (and constantly changing) time? Schedule a video brainstorming session with your team. Is one of your team members struggling to adjust to working from home for the first time? Schedule a one-on-one video call to see how you can offer support. Want to boost company-wide morale (and, as a result, boost productivity)? Host a virtual happy hour and get your entire team together at the end of the week to relax, catch up, and connect.
The point is, video can help to replicate the experience of working with your team in person—and if you’re the kind of person who thrives on social interaction, it can help make working from home a more energizing and productive experience.
Invest in the Tools You—and Your Team—Need to Succeed
Many across the globe are transitioning to working from home for the foreseeable future. The systems, processes, and tools that enabled you and your team to be your most productive might not be as effective in a WFH environment.
That’s why, if you want to keep productivity high, you need to invest in the tools you and your team need to succeed.
Look at your current systems, processes, and software. How are they working for you? Your team? Your customers? If you’re finding that your operational structure just isn’t as effective when your team is working from home, it’s time to redesign that structure—and get your team what they need to stay productive and keep business moving forward.
For example, your team might be used to popping into each other’s offices when they have a question or want to share updates on a project. A chat platform (like Slack) can help recreate and organize those real-time conversations—and help to ensure your team is communicating quickly and efficiently. Or maybe your system for fulfilling and shipping orders has, until this point, been reliant on a single carrier—but that carrier was near your office, not your home. With Shippo, you can secure discounted rates from over 50 carriers, print shipping and return labels, and send tracking information to your customers—all from the comfort of your own home.
The point is, working from home is a different experience—and if you want your team to be productive, you may need to invest in different tools to support them.
(Want to learn more about how to leverage tech to grow your e-commerce business? Check out our recent Tech Trends article for what’s new and exciting in the world of e-commerce technology,)
Stay strong—and Stay Productive
This is a challenging time for businesses and individuals alike. But with the right strategies, you can stay just as productive while working from home as you were when you were working in your office. So stay strong, stay productive, and make this transition as seamless as possible for yourself, your team, and your customers.
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