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Don’t let “WFH” curb your productivity

Douglas Brown

Doug is our Head of Experiences and he heads up the office in Shanghai. Given the coronavirus, Doug has been working remotely out from Hong Kong over the past 6 weeks and here are his top tips for maintaining productivity whilst collaborating with our team in London:

Start the day right

Get up as you normally would – Don’t necessarily treat the time saved from the commute as extra time in bed. You can really use this time to set up your priorities (personal and professional) for day rather than rolling out of bed at 8:50 for a 9:00 start.

Stretch and move around – You didn’t need to face the morning commute, so spent 5 minutes or so taking some deep breaths and stretching to get the blood flowing and body feeling energised.

Set up a dedicated workstation – I find sitting by a window helps me. I have colleagues that have created a make-shift standing desk. I find this helps me mentally distinguish when/where “work” happens, and when my home is my home.

Taking a shower and getting dressed – This has helped me get mentally primed that I am not just having a “day in”

Plan your day (if you haven’t the night before) – Your remote team are going to be wanting to over-communicate with you throughout the day. So spend time now, without the noise of emails from others, to map our your day. What do you want to achieve? Where do you need help?

Chunk out your time for specific deliverables – I find that we underestimate the time it takes to complete even the smallest tasks by half an hour!

Take breaks between chunks of activity – Get up, walk, get a drink, make food.

Keep your mind and body fueled – Sit with a bottle of water / tea / fruit / nuts to keep your energy levels from slumping

Navigating the working day

Isolation sucks, reach out to each other for informal chats – We don’t have the ability to just shout across the office to ask someone what they fancy for lunch or what they got up to last night. We aren’t able to overhear someones weekend plans. So let’s be open and reach out to each other just to say “Hi”

Structure your 1-2-1’s – They don’t need to be only about work, keep a portion of the agenda for it to be flexible and go with the flow

The power of the CC – copy each other in emails that are necessary so that you don’t need to be chased on updates your colleagues

Support – Be proactive and offer support to each other, this can go along way to any of your team who feel isolated or stuck on a particular task

Set and manage expectations – You might not be as productive (or you might be) in the early days of working remotely, that is completely fine, just make sure you manage expectations of those you work with

Tools to increase productivity? – You don’t have to always do the tried and tested. If you see a tool that you think can help you work more effectively, try it out

You’re not in this alone – Ask ask ask, and also be there when others reach out to you

Reflect as you draw an end to your day

Review your list you planned at the start of the day – Did you achieve those items? what didn’t get the attention it needed? what was new? what was challenging? what was unexpected?

Plan for the next day – Quick prioritisation of what needs to be achieved tomorrow so you can start the next day with clear objectives in mind

Review your working process – Did it work for you today? How did you manage your energy/inspiration/creativity/proactiveness?

Shut off – this might seem simple, but the challenge with working from home, is that your home becomes your workplace. Find something to escape the work after work. Whether it is exercise, cooking, netflix, reading, chatting to family/friends – make sure you allow some time to switch off mentally.

Finally working from home is a practice that you will develop.  You won’t always feel the most comfortable at the start because you are just adapting and learning about how you work best from home. So be patient, take time to experiment, and enjoy this new style of working.