By Furhan Yacub
During this COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have found themselves in a unique situation of having to work remotely. While this may seem like a positive change, some may start experiencing difficulties in staying productive while working remotely. Having recently been in this situation myself, I would like to share five tips that have helped me stay focused and productive while working from home.
How to Stay Productive at Home
Find a Workspace
- If you are used to physically commuting to work every day, then working remotely will be quite the change for you. Previously, there was physical separation between work and home – your goal should be to recreate that as much as possible while working remotely in order to maximize your productivity. This can mean a variety of different things, but the basic idea is to have a separate area of your house which is dedicated to working. If you are fortunate enough to have a home office, then that would work perfectly. But, if you don’t, it is not a big issue as this workspace can be anything from a corner of your bedroom to an empty den in the basement. The important part is that you have a small space dedicated to work and work only
Keep a Tidy Desk
- Studies have shown that a clean desk can have positive effects such as reducing stress and improving motivation but for the purposes of this article we will look at a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research regarding the effects of a clean workspace and focus. In this study, 103 subjects were instructed to sit in a clean workspace or an untidy room. The subjects were then moved to a separate room and asked to work on a geometry puzzle. The results of this study showed that those who spent time in the clean workspace spent 1,117 seconds on the task whereas those in the untidy room only spend 669 seconds. In summary, people were able to focus for a longer period of time when they were in a clean workspace. With a cluttered workspace, there are many distractions around and it is easy to lose focus from the task at hand. Having a tidy desk eliminates these distractions and makes it easier to stay focused.
Make sure you have the necessary technology
- Technology is what affords us the ability to work remotely, so make sure to take home a laptop, charger, keyboard, mouse, and anything else you may need. Personally, I absolutely love using an external monitor at home because it allows for more screen real estate and increases my productivity. The most important part about working remotely would be the required software. Make sure to review company policies or talk to your manager and figure out what software needs to be downloaded on your computer to allow remote work. Most companies are utilizing software such as Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Slack, etc… Keep in mind that some applications and files may not be accessible from your home WiFi network or require a special security key to log in. It is recommended to liaison with your company’s IT department to ensure you have all the tools necessary to work remotely.
- While this may seem like a small tip, it has massive psychological impacts. When I first started working remotely, I would stay in my pajamas as long as I could. I realized that this actually made me less productive. Changing clothes in the morning works like a “mental trigger” which allows your brain to distinguish between work and home. This includes carrying on your regular routine such as brushing your teeth, showering, makeup if that is something you normally do. Not only will you be taking care of yourself, but it will start putting you in the right mindset to get work done. Not to mention that even though you are working remotely, there will be an abundance of video meetings that you will need to look presentable for.
Embrace the Camera
- While getting in front of the camera may make you feel uncomfortable at first, it is crucial for building social connections with your coworkers especially when most of your team members are working remotely. Additionally, being on camera gives certain advantages versus only being available through the microphone. For example, having the webcam on allows you to understand facial expressions which can play an important role in communication.
Overall, I know that working remotely is a new concept for many employees, and hope these tips can help you stay more productive throughout these unprecedented times. Stay healthy and safe!
Biofortis is a full-service contract research organization, specifically focused on clinical trials in the areas of foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements. With the outbreak of COVID-19, subject and staff safety has been our top priority. Some studies are still running at our site while others have been put on hold. Please see our website www.biofortisresearch.com for a summary of our COVID-19 safety response plan.
About the Author
Furhan Yacub has been with Biofortis Clinical Research since 2016 in various roles and began working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in 2019. Since then, he has managed a variety of nutritional, gastrointestinal, and pharmaceutical clinical trials. Furhan graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018 with a degree in Neuroscience. During his free time, he likes to play video games with friends online or play basketball at the gym.
Chae, Bououn, and Rui Zhu. “Environmental Disorders Leads to Self Regulatory Failures.” Journal of Consumer Research, 19 Dec. 2013, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674547?origin=JSTOR-pdf&seq=1.Tags: COVID, Work from home