7 Tips on how to improve your performance in Working from Home

Written by Eileen Hopkins

My road to counselling and psychotherapy has been interesting. Having worked in a caring profession, nursing for over 30 years, I was always at my happiest when interacting with my patients & I have always been a people person.

Working from home: The New Normal


Working from home has become the new norm for many of us in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. During the pandemic social distancing rules have forced millions of employees to work from home, and evidence has shown that the habits formed in this period will result in a lasting shift. In heeding advice from the World Health Organisation to work from home, many business owners and employees are looking to learn more about how to work from home productively. I have put together some pointers which may help you adapt to this new norm.


1. Create a dedicated workspace


Making a dedicated workspace in your home, be it a spot on your dining table or a home office, helps you get yourself into a zone where your entire focus is on work. The need for ergonomic office furniture is necessary, not optional. You may want to personalize it to better suit your tastes and design it to bring you joy, engagement, and practical efficiency. Whatever you do, ensure that this space helps you bring your best self to your work. Try not to let yourself bring other personal items or personal calls into this space, to help you mentally establish it as a workspace.


2. Check in with your team and co-workers

A daily meeting each morning, whether over Zoom or phone, can help you prioritise your own day and keep on top of any gaps that may be happening in your team’s workload. It also helps you check in more socially with your team. This is especially important during times of high stress, the regular contact gives opportunities to discuss mental health, roadblocks, and easily seek clarification from your co-workers if you have questions. Remember to make sure you also pick up the phone to get the right answers because sometimes miscommunications can occur with written text that are easily solved by a quick phone call.


3. Minimize distractions


If you are in a meeting on your laptop, put your phone will be on silent mode and keep it face-down. When sharing your screen, close tabs that you don’t require. When you are on video, pin the speaker so that you are not distracted by your own face and instead, focus on the speaker. I have started to put a note on my door asking callers not to ring the bell during my work hours.


4. Manage Virtual Backgrounds

Try to use realistic images like a library, living room, or a classroom. Choose something minimalistic and less distracting. A virtual background is a prop and the purpose is to enhance your brand and message, not distract. Also check if your clothing matches or clashes with the background.


5. Use Headphones

Always use reliable, noise-cancelling headphones and these are especially helpful if you tend to move around in swivel chairs, shuffle from one place to another or working alongside other family members.


6. Take regular breaks

Most people know the phenomenon of sitting down at your desk and not noticing the day has disappeared until the sun is gone. Whether you set a timer or have a calendar break set, make sure you get up and try to get active at least once an hour. This is a great opportunity to stay active with some light stretches, cardio, yoga or even just to make a cup of tea. Working from home can lead to a listless feeling if you don’t have structure.


Continue your day, as usual, this includes getting dressed and continuing the small rituals that you’ve conditioned yourself to associate with a day at work over the years. It is so easy to get out of bed, get on your phone, and start checking work mail. And you think: I’m going to respond to just these 3 emails and then shower and get started. When starting your work for the day, be dressed as you would be, in office. And camera-ready. This means no pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms!


And you think: I’m going to respond to just these 3 emails and then shower and get started. When starting your work for the day, be dressed as you would be, in office. And camera-ready. This means no pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms!


In summary, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has created a shift in the way we work. By continuing to block out your day as you would in an office, your mind will still push you to work efficiently, and you keep the same goals of timelines and completion dates. Maya Angelou once said that when you don’t like a thing, change it. If you cannot change it, change the way you think about it. What we now need is the mindset shift required to make remote work, work for us.

Originally wrote in January 2022

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