Since the pandemic, hybrid (and even fully remote) models continue to be a preserve of modern working culture. While WFH isn't exactly a new concept, checking in to see whether your daily habits still support your workday is never a bad idea. It can be tempting to work in your pyjamas or lay in until the exact moment you need to reach for the keyboard, but that's not always the best way to set yourself up for success.
We re-explore some top tips on how to stay focused and keep distractions at bay...
Before you go to bed, it helps to make sure your working space is clear of whatever detritus the day has accrued. There's nothing worse than waking up and realising you need to clear away the empty dishes or clear your workspace of laundry before you can start.
While WFH is a less formal affair than physically going to your place of work, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself 'would I wear this to a dentist or doctor's appointment?'. Tempting though it may be to spend the day in full PJs, it probably won't put you in the most productive mindset and it may tempt you into lounging and/or attending virtual meetings with your camera switched off instead of signalling to your brain (and colleagues) that you're 'ready' for work.
Try not to get side-tracked by housework during the day. It might help to do a bit before you start work if you need, and even schedule something in for during your lunch break, but doing domestic chores during your working hours is likely to take you out of your productive flow.
It's not always possible, but try to avoid using your bedroom as an office, as this should remain a calm place for you to unwind and sleep. The kitchen or living area are the next best options to a home office. To remain undisturbed and undistracted while working, set boundaries with those you live with to avoid having them walk in and out your workspace to chat, cook up a storm or switch the telly on. Try to pick somewhere that's free from clutter or unfolded laundry that's begging to be done. Even if you turn a chair around so you're looking out of a window in the corner of your dining room or have a folding table, these can prove helpful strategies for your focus.
It helps to block time out in your diary for your tasks and, if possible, only hold calls within certain hours of the day, to allow for you to complete your daily objectives. Depending on how you work best, you may find it better to complete complex tasks in the morning when your brain is fresh and more creative or communication-based activities in the afternoon - or vice versa.
Keeping a to-do list is still one of the best ways to ensure meeting deadlines and keeping priorities in check. At the end of each day, it's helpful to plan for the next, so you can sit straight down and get cracking. Consider an achievements and priorities-style team communication where you retrospectively look at what was accomplished in the previous week and what the current week's top tick-list jobs are.
Depending on what works best for you, schedule either regular small breaks and/or a longer lunch break. If you're a fridge raider that's prone to constant snacking, try preparing food as if you were leaving the house for work. It's important to step away from your work to eat lunch somewhere else in the house or garden or park. It'll refresh your brain and enable you to come back and have a productive afternoon. Don't forget a healthy lunch - whether at home or in the office - will also help with focus.
Take one day a week or a regular time of day to check in with each member of your team. This should help you to keep on top of what everyone's doing and ensure that progress is being made across projects, as well as checking to see that everyone has the resources and support they need.
If you work from home more than you do from the office, it can be socially isolating. Teams and other video calling software are a great way of not only discussing work but also having a social fix. When you are in the office, consider scheduling in a lunch or some other form of social contact to catch up and make sure you are keeping those interpersonal skills simmering.
Working from home is still working, so set your normal hours and stick to them. A caveat to this is if you want to capitalise on the lack of commute and start your day earlier. It may be that your work is happy for you to shift your hours or take your 'lunch hour' at a different time that suits you - perhaps to help with a relative or child - of course, this needs to be communicated with and agreed upon by your line manager.
Don't forget when your working day is done to close the door to your office or pack your things away - the day's work is done. It can be tempting to blur the lines but then you set the expectation that you are always available and it's important to have boundaries.