Tips on staying productive while working from home due to COVID-19

In a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, popularly known as Coronavirus, remote work (essentially working from home) has been the centre of discussions on social media and the Internet in Nigeria and across the world. 

We have followed these discussions and noticed that reactions are mixed. The reason for this is simple: Working from home is hard in this country! This is because of the peculiar infrastructural, cultural, etc. challenges that we face.

The reality though, is that people must work from home if we’re to tame this beast. This begs the question: how can one stay productive while working from home? The following tips will help a great deal. Please, read and share as far and wide as you!

1. Create your own workspace

person working at their desk

The living room or in bed might not be the best place to work if you want to be productive. That’s why creating your own workspace at home is very important as it will help you concentrate.

A simple desk and a comfortable chair in one corner of your room or on the balcony will work just fine. The workspace doesn’t have to be out of this world!

2. Be prepared for work

Because you work from home and can reach your workspace in seconds, you might be tempted to stay longer in bed or spend some extra minutes chatting with friends.

You shouldn’t, though.

What you should do instead is prepare for work in almost the same way you would if you were going to the real office.

Essentially, wake up early (you can extend the time you normally wake up for work…you deserve a little something), have your shower, get dressed (casual, of course) and then move to your workspace and fire up your work tools before “resumption time”.

Whether you’re going to the office or working from home, proper preparation is one way to be productive at work.

3. Get stable power

Though Nigeria has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts (MW) of electric power, it currently only generates around 4,000 MW, which is insufficient. As a result, most Nigerians don’t have constant light. This includes you!

To be productive, you have to get stable power to charge your devices (laptops, mobile phones, etc). One way you can surmount this challenge is getting a generating set (you probably have one already). You can also try solar-powered devices, inverters, etc.

4. Get decent internet connection

While the cost of data has crashed in recent times, the speed of internet connection hasn’t improved much (average internet speed is 15Mbps, which is 6.85Mbps lesser than the minimum requirement).

Slow internet connection means you can’t do much online – web pages would take forever to load – and this will cause frustration and greatly affect your productivity.

To be productive, you have to get decent internet connection. This might mean moving from laptop tethering to investing in broadband or fibre-to-the-home internet service. Don’t be that person who didn’t finish an important task because of slow internet!

5. Effectively use required business/communications tools

In the office, communication between staff mostly happens face to face. This luxury doesn’t exist while working from home as most conversations (formal and informal) will take place online.

With this in mind, companies would adopt a set of tools to ensure clear and easy communication between employees. Some of these tools might include WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, Email, etc.

To be productive and taken seriously, you need to learn to effectively use the required tools. You don’t want to keep your boss waiting because you don’t know where the share button on Google Docs is!

6. Track your goals

You play your role in helping the company achieve its very ambitious goals by smashing little goals on a daily basis.

When working from home, smashing those little goals can be very daunting what with the newfound flexibility, little to no supervision, distractions, etc. This is where goal-tracking is important.

Tracking your goals helps you achieve them. It’s that simple! One tool that can help in this regard is “Objectives and Key Results”, aka OKR. Created by Andy Grove at Intel, OKRs are how you track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals.

Virtually everyone uses OKRs and you should too, especially at a time like this. Get more information about the tool here

7. Take regular breaks

Most companies allow employees to take coffee or lunch breaks. This allows employees to regain strength, engage in informal conversations and attend to personal needs like responding to a message from a family member or friend.

You should do the same while working from home. If your company didn’t set a time for breaks, set one for yourself and stick to it. Use that period to do things like eat, have a chat with your siblings, text a friend or run an errand.

These breaks boost productivity and help fight isolation, a silent killer of productivity.

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