How Do You Stay Focused When Working Remotely?
In opinion / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 15 March 2019
Working from home was once a pipe dream for much of the UK population, but with technology advances such as hosted desktop, the cloud and a whole range of remote communication tools; alongside the uprising of the millennial workforce, remote working is now a reality for many.
A report by Lenovo, in collaboration with Cebr, found that 57% of the UK’s labour force work in roles that are eligible for remote working due to their lack of physicality. This is a huge number that is only going to increase with a growing millennial workforce and their quest for flexible working options.
With agile working options, there is often a sense of mistrust breeding itself from the lack of a physical presence which can easily cause tensions in a business. It’s important for companies to trust their employees when deploying a flexible working strategy, but it’s also imperative that employees don’t abuse this trust and maintain focused when working from home.
So, how do you stay focused when working from home?
Create A Dedicated Workspace
Arguably one of the most important things to get right when working remotely, identifying your workspace is something that can make or break your focus. Finding somewhere with minimal distractions should be top of the agenda, so don’t go for the living room where the temptation to binge-watch series on Netflix is high. Think about a space where you don’t usually spend a lot of time, is spacious enough and lets in plenty of natural light, as this can help with increasing your concentration. Once you’ve found your space, stick to it and make it your dedicated place to work from so that you always have a place to go.
Stay Off Social Media
Social Media is one of the biggest distractions in the modern world and it’s easy to while away a whole afternoon mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. But how do you avoid the temptation? Limiting your time per day is one of the best methods for staying off social media and it’s easier than ever to do this. Facebook and Instagram both have activity dashboards where you can set a daily reminder and limit notifications to help you control the time you’re spending online. You can also download an external app to limit your usage, such as Offtime or Freedom which blocks apps and websites for a set amount of time.
Create A Schedule And Stick To It
Similar to finding a dedicated workspace, it’s also important to choose the right working hours when you will be most productive and have the least distractions. The great thing about flexible working is that you can be just that, and work at a time to suit you and your personal life; but remember to establish boundaries. If you say you’re going to work a normal nine to five with an hour for lunch, then do it. If you prefer to work earlier in the morning from six until two, then make sure those are the hours you work. Of course, you can flex when you need to but it’s important that you schedule your time so that your colleagues know when they can reach you and so that you have a routine to help keep your focus for that amount of time, as well as knowing when to clock-off for the day.
Automate Where You Can
Automation is a great way to keep your concentration levels up. By using automation tools, you can stay focused on the meaty tasks ahead of you instead of having to break focus to carry out smaller and often mundane tasks. Technology makes a great admin assistant, you can schedule alerts for important tasks and appointments, use email filters to remove unimportant emails during your working hours and pre-schedule emails to be sent throughout the day. Setting up these automation tools will take some time at the start of each week but will save you even more time in the long run.
Take A Break
It’s so easy to get into the flow when working from home that you forget to take a break and end up working for much longer than you would in the office, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re focused on the task at hand. Not only do breaks ensure you are only working for the time you’re being paid for, but they can also provide you with a much-needed brain boost when focus is lacking. Consider popping out for some fresh air every so often to keep your concentration levels up, or even try doing some exercise to get the blood flowing again.
Create A To-Do List Every Day
To-do lists are highly underrated but can be hugely beneficial to keeping you focused, especially if you create a new one each day to prioritise your workload for the day ahead. Start with noting down all of the jobs you’d like to get done and then prioritise them by order of importance, remembering to automate what you can. It’s then a great idea to put timings against each task to ensure that you stay motivated to get things done on time. By adding time limits, you are effectively competing with yourself which really helps to keep focus if you have a competitive streak.
Dress For Work
When working remotely and not in the office, you’re still working and should therefore try to keep some boundaries to keep you focused. Dressing appropriately is one of these boundaries and can help to keep you in the ‘work-zone’ by ensuring that you get up in plenty of time to get yourself dressed and ready for the day ahead. Plus, you never know when your colleagues might want to schedule a video call and it’s never a good look for you to accept the call in your pyjamas, looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed.
With the future of the national workforce increasingly valuing benefits such as flexible working over salary, it’s essential for companies to put remote working plans in motion now to enable them to have a more focused, productive and happy staff-base.
The first step to successfully implementing a remote-working culture is to ensure the right technology is in place. At Nasstar, we can help with hosted desktop and fully managed IT or cloud-based solutions which enable employees to access files and documents from anywhere, on any device, just like they would be able to in the office.