6 Home Office Hacks for Productivity & Personal Health

Working in your pajamas sounds dreamy, but remote work presents clear changes: You save time commuting, but lose time with colleagues; shutting off from work becomes more difficult, yet you’re more susceptible to distractions, especially in the time of Corona.

Everyone’s got a system for home officing, but most important is: make it work for you, your idiosyncrasies, the nature of your work and your circumstances – be it family, roommates or your dog.

1. Starting your day

Waking up and sifting through emails while still in bed is ill-advised; to stay productive, it’s helpful to maintain a routine. An example: 10 minutes of stretching and meditation, then shower and breakfast. For managers, leading video calls each morning with your team to plan the day ahead helps everyone feel physically and mentally connected.

2. Communication

The first step to managing a team transitioning to remote office is clear and frequent communication. Set expectations and making them work for everyone’s circumstances. Frequent updates are helpful and can substitute water cooler banter. Some practices worth instating include catch-up calls between employees and/or management, feedback, setting up one-on-one check-ins between different colleagues and creating online collaborations.

If you catch yourself discussing your love life with Alexa or Siri, it doesn’t mean you’re going crazy (yet – that would be when you ask them out). Prolonged isolation can induce loneliness, but there are ways to prevent this, like regular check-ins with colleagues or friends, meditation or long walks outdoors.


3. Staying focused

Distraction is a perennial concern both inside and outside the office. It’s easier to binge on social media at home – swiping for dates, finding funny memes or keeping up on Trump’s latest Twitter outburst. It’s therefore helpful to have a space where you cannot be disturbed; reward yourself by taking breaks to rearrange furniture, accomplish odds-and-ends or prepare an exotic lunch.  

For the less self-disciplined, social media companies do offer built-in commitment mechanisms. For example, Google Chrome has the extension “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook”, eliminating your newsfeed altogether. Instagram and Twitter have “mute” options with customizable features that can target individual words or accounts. If you’re a fan of behavioral psychology, there is always the “nudge” method: Your phone can notify you of increases in usage and Instagram allows you to set reminders to pop up after a certain number of minutes.

4. Productivity

Setting deadlines, keeping a schedule and taking advantage of your surroundings work hand-in-hand. Create small competitions with yourself, with the prize being taking a break, making a cup of coffee or a walk around the block once you’ve completed an assignment. You can even plan this with roommates, where having a small chat or cooking together, substitutes conversations that happen naturally in the office. This also goes for work meetings: It’s important to have clear goals, actionable tasks and follow-up conversations from each.

5. Finding the right technology and processes

Think about what tools your team needs to optimize working from home: everything from communications tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype for Business to synching files and managing check lists. Be prepared as a company to address new problems, like managing IT tasks or organizing creative collaborations that normally take place in person. You can create Google Forms to submit IT questions in an organized way.

Pro tip: check out sites like The Open for Business Hub that compile lists of companies that offer software for extended home-office, such as Microsoft Teams 6-month free trial and GoToMeeting, which has 3 months of free licensing.

6. Take a load off

Utilize all the great initiatives spurring out of the remote office phenomenon: Take a virtual tour of a museum, from New York’s Guggenheim to Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Listen to the Metropolitan Opera live. Partake in a lecture series or jump into a community yoga class on Skype.

Oh, and if you’re in need of groceries or medication, willing to volunteer, or simply require emotional support or a conversation, don’t hesitate to join Metropole’s Vienna Community Coronavirus Support Board.

Sources: The Boston Globe, BBC, Open for Business Hub.

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