10 Tips to Make Working from Home Better and More Productive

Carmit Moulem-Sofer | March 26, 2020
Head of Global Human Resource

10 Tips to Make Working from Home Better and More Productive

YouAppi employees across the globe are now working from home because of COVID-19 and we are adjusting to our new reality. We wanted to share a few tips we have found from across the globe to help make the most of this time.

Work as we once knew has changed amid the pandemic. We have moved from a bustling warm-body office with coworkers to creating an isolated office at home. For those worried about how productive they’ll be at home, research conducted at Stanford found that when employees worked from home, productivity increased by 13% (during your next break, check out the Ted Talk from the Stanford professor who conducted this research). One of the silver linings of working from home during self-quarantine is the end of the commute, which saves employees an average of 8.5 hours and $94 per week according to Airtasker.

Here are ten tips we have found effective when managing work and life during quarantine.  

   1. Create a Schedule 

Working from home provides the flexibility to work more freely so it’s important to define the workday to colleagues, clients, and partners. Setting a schedule and work routine will make it easier for everyone while also keeping you sane. Although be flexible enough as there may be times that a call or an email will sneak in beyond your set hours. 

It’s critical to plan a morning routine to make sure the day is started on the right foot. For many, creating a ‘to-do’ list at the end of the previous day enables the next morning to have an organized start with a greater focus. Writing down your schedule will also help to keep you accountable to work within your prescribed hours. To start the workday, include a transition from home to work, like getting dressed, getting the kids set up with their school work, or reading the paper to segue into your work mode.

If scheduling poses an issue, try time-tracking apps like RescueTime, Todoist or the Chrome plug-in, Strict Workflow.

   2. Define a Workspace

Not only is it important to define work times, but it’s also important to define a workspace for the others at home. With the current closures of schools, daycares, and businesses, this can be a challenge. However, by working in the same space every day, your mind will associate that space with work. 

   3. Take Breaks

Just like you set out the day with a schedule, ensure productivity at home by taking scheduled breaks throughout the day. It’s important to do something that can help to recharge and definitely do not let household chores dictate these breaks. Scheduling a coffee break Zoom call with a work colleague to recreate that water cooler moment is a great way to spend a break. Overlooking lunch is easy to do as we often get carried away with the task at hand. Recharge your brain and eat lunch away from your workstation.

Gamification Works

We have an employee who plays solitaire when working home. He plays every three hours, playing three hands until he completes solitaire, and quits until the next day. By gamifying a break from work, this exercises your brain, allowing you to come back to work with more energy. These types of breaks help to increase productivity while working from home.

4.   Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to Keep Data Safe

When working from the office, corporate data is protected by the systems put in place by the company system administrators. Now that so many are logging in from home through a range of Internet-enabled devices, it’s important to make sure that sensitive corporate data remains safe. The easiest way to do that is through a VPN. Avoid public Wi-Fi and ensure that home routers are sufficiently secured and verify the security of the devices used for work at home. 

   5. Limit the Busywork

A great way to increase productivity is to limit perusing newsletters and other less critical tasks to defined windows of time rather than breaking the flow of work. We all waste time on busywork. Cutting unnecessary busywork saves time and makes for increased productivity.  If sourcing the latest news trends for the mobile industry comes from these newsletters, set aside some specific time to read these for updates. This is a great activity to accompany your morning coffee before you jump into work tasks. The goal here is to not break focus while getting work done.

   6. Stay Connected to Colleagues

Whether through Slack or Zoom calls, it’s important to stay connected in times like this. If there was some confusion in a Slack message to a coworker, reach out via a video call to confirm. Just because a colleague isn’t sitting at the next desk over, it doesn’t mean tech can’t be used to simulate a similar experience. Initiate the call to clarify any potential confusion and also to connect with a colleague for support. It will make for better and more productive work at home experience for all.

   7. Socialize

Beyond staying connected with colleagues, socializing with friends and family is more important than ever. Set up virtual happy hours or dinner parties through your favorite video app and arrange a video chat session with mutual friends to share a drink, cook a meal, or even enjoy an evening of Karaoke. You can Netflix party through the Rave- Watch Together or even catch your favorite DJ broadcasting to bring these experiences into the home.

  8.  Practice Self Care by Staying Active

Inactivity is probably one of the biggest caveats of working from home. Keep your mind sharp by taking the time to do some stretches or run around the neighborhood. There are some areas of the country where the beaches, city parks, and trails have closed. This doesn’t mean that you can’t stay active. 

Now is a great time to fulfill that New Year’s resolution and start exercising. There is an abundance of resources for at-home workouts. During Coren-tine, apps like Peloton have extended their free trial for 90-days and your favorite Barry’s Bootcamp coach leads live daily workouts on Instagram TV. Why not stay active while socializing? Do a group virtual circuit workout with friends, family or colleagues, since everyone should be looking to burn some energy.

   9. Be Positive

These aren’t normal times and it’s easy to develop some negative feelings when reading the news so it’s more important than ever to stay positive. Think of all of the opportunities technology is enabling us to do in 2020. It is so easy to stay connected with friends, colleagues, family, and clients; whether they’re around town or halfway around the world. Despite C-19, there is still so much to be positive about.

   10. Do Something Fun

Last but most definitely not least: do something fun. It might be difficult to do things that were normal only a few weeks ago so now’s the time to try something new and different! Visit a museum in a foreign country through Google Arts and Cultures. They provide access to art collections in 500 museums including the Musée D’Orsay in Paris and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (some of which aren’t open today). One of the best things we’ve found has been The Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma. They created a Twitter account to share exhibits (and some comic relief) about cowboy and western heritage.  For animal lovers, check out these live animal cams from the San Diego Zoo or consider fostering an animal while you have this abundance of time. Let your curiosity lead the way, there is an abundance of things to do in the comfort of your home.

These are definitely trying times, but this is the new normal. Remember to not be too hard on yourself and take the time to unwind after your WFH workday. We will all wake up tomorrow morning to do it again and by working together, taking safety precautions, and helping one another, we will get through this.