The COVID-19 pandemic turned the work world upside down — and nothing was more affected than the traditional workplace.
While the work-from-home setup is nothing new, most companies don’t usually offer it to their employees before the global outbreak.
Today, the population of remote workers has skyrocketed. In the United States alone, home-based workers tripled between 2019 and 2021.
Many view this situation as a net positive, but others raise legitimate concerns. For example, IT specialists have noted a 95% increase in cloud exploitation.
However, one of the most significant concerns is remote workers’ work habits, with some saying that staying productive and engaged has become more difficult.
Critics of the new work setup think that the lack of in-person interaction between colleagues and the blurring of work-life boundaries would diminish workers’ ability to focus and, thus, their productivity.
Whether this worry is well-founded or not, it’s reasonable to believe that remote work poses unique challenges to people, especially regarding their attention and performance.
In this article, you’ll learn about tools and ways to sustain productivity and engagement while working remotely.
How to Stay Productive and Engaged While Doing Remote Work
Here’s a theory: the time you spend actively engaged in your work is directly proportional to high-quality production.
Engagement and productivity are inseparable components of work success – especially for people who work remotely.
Here’s how to sustain productivity in a typically distracting work environment:
#1 Identify your work philosophy:
First, determine how you intend to integrate focused work into your professional life.
Workers differ in their primary job goals and tasks, so pick an approach that fits your situation.
What works for researchers may not work for online teachers. The former requires prolonged uninterrupted work, while the latter must be ready to answer student questions (usually at random times).
More often than not, remote workers, particularly those with relational tasks like therapists and managers, can’t work “in the zone” while on duty.
They must divide their time, allocating specific stretches to high-value tasks and leaving the rest free for other activities.
Whatever your work is and wherever you work, achieving sustained productivity and engagement begins with developing a work ethic tailored to your capacity and work goals.Read more in this article for some tips to improve your productivity.
#2 Optimize work routine:
An often-overlooked characteristic of remote workers who produce valuable results is that they’re rarely “hit-and-miss” regarding their work habits.
Like in work philosophy, optimal “work rituals” depend on the individual and their work type.
Consider the following factors when determining ideal work habits:
- Your workspace and how long you will work in it
- How you’ll work once you begin your task
- How you’ll support your work
#3 Encourage healthy communication:
Many businesses today operate remotely with employees scattered across various regions and time zones.
This factor can make collaboration between people extra challenging, affecting their productivity.
Encouraging open communication can be an excellent means of improving organizational performance.
However, unqualified transparency can leave workers exposed and vulnerable, causing them to refrain from unrehearsed behaviors that could foster creative and thoughtful work.
By balancing privacy and transparency, organizations can encourage the “positive deviance” necessary to improve innovation and productivity.
#4 Practice self-care:
Remote workers must also pay attention to their mental state.
Aside from the positive impact of optimal mental health on one’s physical well-being, a well-kept mind could also boost organizational productivity significantly.
Most remote workers are “knowledge workers,” who think for a living. They thrive when their mind is in tip-top shape.
Here are some self-care ideas to consider:
- Optimize your work environment by investing in ergonomic home office furniture, decluttering your work area, and decorating the place with indoor plants.
- Play music while you work
- Take mini-breaks
- Cultivate a hobby
- Practice self-compassion
Productivity and Engagement Tools for Remote Work
Technology can ease the burden and boost the productivity and engagement of employees. However, developing an effective technology strategy is key to supporting remote work.
Here are some tools for improving productivity and engagement while working remotely:
- Team communication apps: Use communication technologies like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Slack to facilitate real-time communication. Note: Set expectations for how and when to use these tools — also, what posts are appropriate for sharing and when to use email
- To-do list tools: Some people keep a to-do list in their inbox. Other people prefer spreadsheets. Still, some people prefer plain old pen and paper. In any case, choose the to-do tool you’re most likely to use.
- Project management software: You can only capture so many things with a task list. Projects involving many tasks that must be completed systematically or workflows with complicated time-management needs may benefit from a full-fledged project management system.
- Focus apps: Suppose you habitually check your email or browse time-wasting sites during work hours. In that case, some tools and extensions can temporarily block websites and programs or limit your time online.
- The Number of People Primarily Working From Home Tripled Between 2019 and 2021: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2022/people-working-from-home.html
- 2023 GLOBAL THREAT REPORT: https://go.crowdstrike.com/2023-global-threat-report
- The Transparency Trap: https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-transparency-trap
- Benefits of Good Mental Health: https://toronto.cmha.ca/documents/benefits-of-good-mental-health/
- Mental well-being at the workplace: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/