We’re living in uncertain and unprecedented times. As COVID-19 spreads rapidly around the world, more and more home offices are sprouting up as people attempt to move their work online.
On average, according to a Global Workplace Analytics Costs & Benefits survey, teleworkers in several large companies are usually 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts. But when you no longer have the agency to choose whether to work from home or the office, some of that productivity may slip away. When the whole world is in isolation, it becomes harder and harder to hunker down and focus.
Here at LawFlex, 70% of our work over the last four years has been remote. Remote work is an integral part of the LawFlex philosophy, here are some of the ways we’ve stayed sane and productive in our home offices over the years:
There is a psychological phenomenon called the “Zeigarnik effect” which posits that we remember the things we need to do better than the things we’ve already done. The phenomenon was first studied in the observation of waiters who could only recall their patron’s orders before they had been served. After the orders were delivered, their memories were purged of who had the burger and who had the salad. It is important to take advantage of the brain’s obsession with the completion of tasks. More recent studies have shown that just the simple making of a plan to get tasks done can rid us of the anxiety of doing them. There’s an undeniable satisfaction in making a to-do list, and an even greater release that comes with crossing something off a to-do list. So do your to-do’s!
According to Business News Daily, 30% of remote employee participants in a survey reported that the most effective way to stay productive was to keep a to-do list. I’ve taken to creating to-do lists in my bullet journal, as well as on the Google Chrome extension called ‘Momentum’. The great thing about Momentum is that it’s there every time I want to open a new tab, and it doesn’t just assault me with unfinished tasks. Momentum is so aesthetically pleasing that it makes facing your to-do list an enjoyable event.
Take Advantage Of The Cloud
To ensure seamless communication with you and your team, take advantage of cloud services. Google Drive for instance is a great online cloud storage service. The best part? It’s FREE. When setting up a drive, the people who have access to it can also view/edit the documents inside. As such, your team members can easily review your spreadsheets, google slides, google docs, etc. You can track people’s changes to your work and speak with them in real time on whatever document it is that’s being edited.
When working from home it is crucial to place emphasis on communication with the team. Review platforms like Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype–there are endless options out there. But don’t make the mistake of using multiple platforms for webinars; choose one platform for meetings to create a sense of consistency for yourself and your team members.
Additionally, set up a virtual office for basic communication, because not every discussion needs to be had over a video meeting (especially if you’ve taken to working from home in your pajamas). Webinars should be reserved for important conversations that necessitate every team member present for said discussion–just like a regular in-person meeting. Having too many discussions over video-chat may put undue stress on team members. Again, choose one platform for basic communication to create a semblance of routine. Facebook group messenger is an option, but if you’re opting for something a bit more secure and professional, Slack and WhatsApp are great platforms to try out.
The current pandemic has flooded people’s inboxes with spam from businesses that want to assure you they are doing everything they can amidst the virus. It’s also good to note that the more people work from home, the more personal distractions they’re likely to face and be overwhelmed by (i.e. caring for their kids, preparing dinner, bringing groceries to loved ones, stocking up on toilet paper…). If your team member isn’t responding to a memo you just sent out, it’s likely that the email may have gotten lost among a slew of others, so send chasers! Be polite in your reminder, and make sure to include all the necessary attachments and information in your follow-up message so the addressee knows what’s going on right away.
Light a scented candle. Work somewhere in your home that receives a lot of natural light. Keep a water bottle handy and fill the water with berries, citrus or cucumbers. Berries like blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are amazingly rich sources of flavonoids that bolster memory function and sharpen focus. Dress in something comfy, but not pajama-like so that you’re not associating work time with sleep time. Put on a playlist or a podcast so that your mind is already stimulated and isn’t searching for distractions. Be attentive to lighting; as the sun goes down, be sure to turn on a nearby lamp so that your eyes aren’t strained against the contrast between your screen’s harsh light and the dim light that follows sunset. Essentially, make your workspace a pleasant one to be in. It’s your home after all–its intrinsic coziness can be used to your advantage when trying to optimize productivity.
There’s Always A Silver Lining
Breathe. Try your hardest to stay positive. The global quarantine has resulted in drastically reduced CO2 emissions, dolphins returning to the Venice canals, and museums to produce virtual walk-throughs of stunning art exhibitions. Take care of yourself. Go for a walk outside. Check up on friends, and remember that none of this is permanent, and that you working from home is helping to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
Now is the time to be patient with yourself as well as others–now is the time to be overly kind and prioritize me-time. If all of your attempts to increase your productivity at home don’t work, and you find that you’re not accomplishing as much as you were before the crisis, that’s perfectly okay. We’re all just doing what we can in these times. So just do that; do what you can–focus on the things that are within your control, like your me-time, your hygiene, your break times, your hydration, your breathing. Be kind to yourselves, and your future selves will thank you.
As this is a difficult time for many of those working from home, we’d like to extend a helping hand and encourage anyone with questions about working remotely to forward their inquiries to LawFlex’s Head Legal Operations, Adv. Edo Bar Gil. He’ll be answering questions related to remote work free of charge.
Feel free to contact him: +972 (3) 779 8977 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Making Sense with Sam Harris
3 Books with Neil Pasricha
Things to Listen to:
Lofi hip hop radio – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qap5aO4i9A
Coffee shop music – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BywDOO99Ia0
Rainy day at the coffee shop playlist – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD4dMdpNe_I
‘Rainy Day in NYC’ (Jazz and rain sounds) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFVhXSCSMU4
Snacks to improve focus: