Six Ways to Work Remotely and Stay Productive

As our organisations come to terms with the COVID-19 situation, there are an increasing number of us who will be working remotely at least some of the time over the next weeks or months. Many in the accounting profession will have worked remotely at times throughout their careers, especially as deadlines loom and work gets taken home. Although working remotely comes with challenges, especially for parents if the decision is made to close schools, there are seven easy things we can do to stay productive.

1. Keep Your Routine: It will help if you can keep your regular routine as much as possible. This includes setting your alarm at normal time and getting out of your pyjamas before starting work. Getting dressed helps make the mental switch in your mind between home and work. Set up regular times for breaks and have a start and end time to your working hours. One of the traps to working remotely is keeping healthy boundaries between home and work so that you aren’t just doing one more thing late at night before you go to bed. It is important that even when your work is in your home for remote working that it does not become your entire life.

2. Plan Your Day: At the start of the day plan the tasks you are going to do for the day and follow the same guidelines you would while working in the office. Do your highest priority tasks first during your greatest energy periods. If you have other family members in the home, you might have to factor in planning your work around their needs. It is important to still have breaks throughout the day and set yourself strict time limits on how long they will be.

3. Use Technology To Connect: You may not be able to connect and communicate with your colleagues in person, but there are a lot of ways you can use technology to check in with their well-being, have meetings and collaborate on projects even while working remotely. Pick up the phone and ring them rather than email them if you get a chance as it will help to check on their welfare as well as maintain the relationship connection.

4. Have A Stop Light For Family Members: Have a visual symbol for family members to tell them when you are working. It might be anything from a closed door on your home office to a red hand towel hanging over the chair near where you are working at the dining table. This lets other family members know when you are working (in a meeting or making a call etc), so they can come practice being quiet and come back later with their question.

5. Designate A Separate Comfortable Workspace: You might not have the luxury of a separate home office, but if there is some way you can delineate your workspace and have a comfortable chair you will be more productive. It is best not to work in a lounge chair, for example, as it is not only bad for your posture but also for your focus.

6. Limit Distractions: Although you have removed the distractions of open plan offices when you are working remotely, it becomes easier to distract yourself when you are not in an office environment. You can help yourself by removing browser shortcuts for social media, removing them from your toolbar bookmarks or signing out of all your social media accounts during working hours. You can also use technology to set timers for how long you will stay focused on tasks before you have a break. The other distraction to limit is the things that need doing around your home. The cleaner your home and your working space, the less inclined you will feel to distract yourself by doing the other tasks that need doing.

As challenging as working remotely can be, it can also be incredibly productive and rewarding. There are opportunities to create new work habits, to find new ways of doing things and to do things you enjoy in the time you would otherwise spend commuting.