The “next normal” is officially setting in, especially when it comes to remote work. Simform’s 2021 Remote Work Survey found that 82% of surveyed companies plan to allow their employees to work from home indefinitely and 77% want to make this a permanent solution.
Even some of the largest corporations in the world such as Facebook, Spotify, Microsoft, Salesforce, Twitter, and Slack have rolled out plans for a long-term remote workforce beyond just 2021.
Working from home is convenient, but it can also lead to unproductive habits. If you’ve struggled to work from home for this past year, now is the time to start settling into it so you can feel good and productive in your new work environment.
Shift from, “This is just for a while,” to “This is my new normal,” with these simple strategies.
Physical shifts for permanent remote work
How will you create a space to work from home permanently? How will you set up your days knowing you’re not going back to the office? Here are a few key details to consider.
Establish a morning routine for structure
A repetitive, consistent daily routine can help to increase motivation and goal orientation which boosts overall performance the PeerJ Journal suggests. Creating rituals is a simple way to build structure into the day’s workflow.
One time this is most valuable is in the morning. It can be tempting to roll out of bed and onto your computer—or bring it into bed with you—but this can affect your performance. Some energy-boosting morning rituals might include:
- Changing into office-appropriate clothes
- Checking in with a friend or family member to prevent social isolation.
- Writing a to-list or journal your goals for each day
Separate your workspace from the rest of your home
As you adjust to WFH on a permanent basis, it’s helpful to shift from the couch or kitchen table to a designated workspace or home office that’s separate from other rooms in your house. In fact, 43 percent of employees find that a dedicated workspace boosts their productivity at home, according to a recent survey from The Manifest.
If possible, allocate an area that’s both organized and distraction-free. Furnish it with a desk, office equipment, and materials so you can create a familiar office environment that promotes productivity.
Set movement alarms for regular intervals during the day
When you live and work in the same location, it’s all too easy to remain in a fixed spot for hours at a time without any movement. However, frequent bouts of exercise can help reduce stress, improve concentration, sharpen learning and retention, and enhance creativity, explains neuroscientist Ben Martynoga.
Even if you don’t have a coworker to talk with or a meeting to walk to, get up and move around. Set alarms at various points in the day to will remind yourself to walk, stretch, and do some pushups, squats, lunges, or jumps.
Mental shifts for permanent remote work
Get your head in the remote-work mindset by making a few key mental shifts as you make it permanent.
Put screen restrictions on your phone
As of 2020, internet users spent 145 minutes per day (about 2.4 hours) scrolling on social media, based on recent data from Statista. This is can be a significant WFH distraction. Without a coworker or boss to call you out, you risk wasting hours of time perusing social media during work hours.
Eliminate the urge to check notifications, respond to comments or messages, and browse the content on your newsfeed by enforcing screen limits across all devices and platforms. Use one of these apps to reduce screen time and hold yourself accountable to stay productive.
Listen to ambient background music to increase focus
Staying focused at home can be hard. Without the energy of an office, it’s easy to get antsy. Fix this by listening to ambient low-volume music could be the solution. This genre emphasizes tonal sound over structured beats, so it won’t require as much active listening as traditional music does. As a result, it is shown to enhance task focus and to help decrease mind-wandering, suggests the Psychological Research Journal.
Use a time tracking app to hold yourself accountable
Time management can be just as hard at home as it is in the office. In the office, less than 60% of the average work from home workday is productive thanks to email overload, “pointless meetings,” and interruptions, according to Atlassian.
It can be even harder at home if you’re homeschooling or living with roommates. Even when living alone, it’s easy to get up every few minutes to clean, sign for UPS or see what your neighbors are doing.
To avoid wasted hours on the job, use a time tracking platform like Harvest, Toggl, or Clockify. In addition to timesheet reporting, these tools can also help you monitor project deadlines and keep tabs on your schedule for the week.
Preparing for this transition mentally and physically will not only improve your work performance, but it will make full-time WFH more enjoyable and less overwhelming in the long-term. Who knows, you may even start to love it—if you don’t already.
Jessica Thiefels is the author of 10 Questions That Answer Life’s Biggest Questions, podcast host of Mindset Reset Radio, and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.