Business Continuity: 9 Ways to Stay Productive Working from Home

It is not news anymore that a lot of companies have shut down amidst the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected nations. As countries work to contain the epidemic and limit its impact, organisations face uncertainties on the future of their businesses. If you’ve looked through social media recently, chances are you’ve seen friends publicising about working from home. Few companies have adopted remote working to keep their business operating.

These are unclear times for businesses, and crucial measures are to be put in place to ensure business continuity. As it seems that remote working is the new way of rendering business services. It is, thus, vital that individuals show accountability and discipline when working from home. Lagos is a megacity with peculiar problems (from the challenges of PHCN to Data services, healthcare etc.)

How can one stay productive working from home without losing their source of income?

1. Petrol is Never Enough

We all know that in a country like Nigeria, you will need to prepare for the disruption that might impede your output. One of such disturbances is in the form of NEPA. It is wise to make provision for an abundant amount of petrol that can be kept on stand by. This is to ensure all your gadgets are charged for work. You don’t want to give excuses.

2. Create a Work Station

Working from home can be distracting with the noises around. From kids jumping and watching their favourite tv show, to your spouse close to you. Your work-life must not suffer at home, so create boundaries. Make a designated work area, someplace you can associate with your job. If you are thinking of using your room as your work station, think again — the bed is not a proper alternative, no matter how well suited to it you feel. Make sure the work station is clean and tidy so that you don’t get sidetracked by the mess. Also, If you start work at 8 am, don’t wake up at 7:59 am. Try to give yourself some time in the morning before you begin your day.

3. Data is life

Working from home requires an increased reliance on data. Since you are at home and not in the office, you will need excess data to work on your deliverables. Plan to get adequate data that will last you throughout the day or during your time at home. The company usually takes care of this expense, so you don’t need to fret. However, ensure your data is activated for use. If you work in an environment that has many face-to-face meetings, you will have to make sure your network is clear and good for video conferencing. If it isn’t, upgrade your network to 4G for faster speed. No excuses! You need to show that you can work effectively without supervision.

4. Consider your dressing

Pay attention to the way you dress when working from home. It is easy to wear pyjamas or sweats when working from the house because it’s your comfort place. Nevertheless, it is important to know that putting on some form of workwear can help you get into the right mood.

The way you dress influences your behaviour and productivity, it is psychological. In a recent article by INC., it was stated that dressing impacts thinking. Professional dress increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. Therefore, your dressing at home can negatively or positively impact on your work output. You don’t have to be extremely formal in your dressing when working from home, but still, dress like you are going to work.

Also, bear in mind that you might have a client or team meeting online, you don’t want to appear lethargic but rather professional.

5. Attention to Children

With many children self-isolating and off school, employees all over the globe are finding themselves working from home with their kids. Working from home with children can be a heavy task if there are no activities to keep them engaged. During this period of social distancing, it is great you keep your children busy. Some parents are eliminating limits on screen time, while others are making “work actions” comprised of academic exercises, reading lists, documentaries, games for their kids. There are tons of materials online where you can find interesting educational materials for your kids. Some include learningforkids.org, education.com, brainpop.com, CK-12 Foundation, etc..

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6. Close for the Day

Don’t forget that you have to close for the day when working from home. Think about it as you are working from the office. If your working hours is 9–5, then maintain it. You don’t want to work all day and leave other aspects of your life to suffer. Research has found that activities after work can boost your overall well-being without negatively impacting cognitive performance. Get involved in other activities at home, i.e. playing with your kids, going for a walk, cooking, playing sport etc. all these can help release stress and boost efficiency.

However, it is vital to know that there are times when you might have a deadline and need to work late into the night; this can be excused.

7. Stay Connected

No man is an Island. You will get bored a lot of times working from home, find time to connect with your colleagues. A lot of people ignore the psychological effects of working remotely for a lengthy period. When you don’t stay connected with your team members, you might lose track of happenings in the firm, and this can affect your work productivity. Social interaction facilitates cooperation and closeness.

Find an accountability partner when working from home, a colleague you can hit up when you’re feeling the need to discuss work-related matters and someone that can keep you on your toes. Social video calls are not a bad idea as well, speak to your colleague as against texting. There is power in unity, so don’t neglect the power of social interaction. Get on your phone and call that buddy of yours at the office.

8. Take an online course

Learning is never enough. The great thing about working from home is that you can pace yourself and learn new skills by taking an online class. Some organisations offer tailored programmes and courses to employees. Phillips Consulting is one of such firms, the organisation partners with world-class talent development firms such as Percipo, Skillsoft, kesdee, and so many others to provide well-suited programs to employees and individuals.

While working at home, you want to make sure that you take a new course to help improve the efficiency of your job.

9. Speak to Your Manager

Your mental health is very critical. Working from home can be frustrating and can feel lonely at times. Speaking to your manager about the challenges you encounter can help him/her know how to deal with it and also assist in the best possible way.

There should be a clear expectation about how your performance will differ from a normal day, whether because the office practices are a bit different or certain assignment are delegated to different teams. You want to make sure you communicate your plans accurately with your Manager.

Itemise your weekly goals with achievement for the week with your manager so he can track and monitor your deliverables. Sometimes, set up a video call meeting with your Manager to discuss work progress.

Phillips Consulting Limited (pcl.) is a leading business and management consulting firm serving clients across Africa. www.phillipsconsulting.net/