Tips for efficiently working from home

Estelle Klemp

Working from home: advantages and disadvantages

Working from home - that sounds great. Sleep in, enjoy a relaxed breakfast, save the long commute and then head to your desk. But now the children are running around and the finished laundry has to be hung up. This is not how we had envisaged it! Besides advantages such as a better work-life balance, more free time and increased productivity, there are also some challenges when working from home. These include the lack of direct contact with colleagues, more difficult coordination and communication, the lack of separation between work and private life, and a lack of concentration. In order to be able to work efficiently from home, it is essential to be aware of these challenges and to overcome them.

Effective time management when working from home

Using time efficiently when working from home is a major challenge for many people. Fixed work structures such as a clear beginning and end of the working day no longer apply. While this provides more flexibility in organising the structure of the day, it also requires a high degree of personal responsibility in order to proceed effectively. In this e⁠-⁠training we have shared many tips and methods to manage your time and work effectively.

These steps will help you to structure your working hours when working from home:

  • Define your working hours. This should take into account both the core times in the teams and personal commitments. Then communicate your working hours to your manager and colleagues - this improves coordination.

  • Schedule breaks. These are essential in order to start the next phase of work with new energy. Exercise is good for you, so take a walk in the fresh air.

  • Adhere to working hours. This should be considered especially in the first two months so that these working hours become a habit. Once the working hours have become a habit, our brain has more resources for other things.

  • Find rituals. Find rituals that clearly separate your working hours from the rest of your time. For example, say: After work, I clean up my desk so that I can start the next day in an organised way.

  • Document your working hours. That way you can keep track of how long you have actually worked so you can distinguish between work and free time. You can use certain softwares, programmes such as Excel or apps for this purpose.

Work more productively with the proper workplace design

Make your work easier by designing your home office workspace appropriately - this means as ergonomic and free of distractions as possible. In the best case, there is enough space to set up a home office. If not, you can set up a new desk in the room or use an existing desk as a worktable. However, remember to store your papers and materials in a drawer or shelf after work to separate your workspace from your everyday environment.

Here are some tips to optimise your workspace at home:

  • If possible, place your desk parallel to the window. This will give you enough daylight, but you won't be disturbed by the light.

  • There should also be enough light sources, since too little light makes you tired.

  • The rule of thumb for an ergonomic workstation is the "axis check": Sit down with the hip and knee joints as well as the elbows bent to 90 degrees.

  • Make sure you are at least 50 cm away from the screen and position the screen so that the top line of the screen is slightly below the visual axis.

  • Always tidy up your workspace and avoid distracting factors in your field of vision.

Please do not disturb - I am busy.

When working from home, the boundaries between work and free time/family often become blurred. However, work is done during working hours - whether in the office or at home. For this reason, it is essential to eliminate the biggest distractors. Disturbance factor number 1 is the mobile phone. It should be switched off and kept out of sight. In addition, it is advisable to turn off push notifications from social media apps and block certain websites during working hours if you know they tempt you to interrupt work.

Other troublemakers are family and friends who assume we are always available at home. Unfortunately, the work factor is often forgotten. Therefore, it's best to create and communicate clear rules about when you can be reached in private and put "do not disturb" signs on the door. Finally, always keep a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones close by. If things do get noisy at home, your workplace will quickly become quiet again.

Work motivation: Starting the working day with enthusiasm

Work motivation describes our inner drive for future work actions. It is therefore essential to increase work motivation - among other things with the help of work design. According to Hackman and Oldham's Job Characteristics Model, workers are intrinsically motivated when the work has the following characteristics: variety, holism, meaningfulness, autonomy and social feedback. Moreover, people are motivated by achieving goals or by being part of a team. Thus, think about what motivates you most and how you can implement this in your daily work.

  • Do you want feedback on your completed tasks? Then arrange a meeting with your supervisor.

  • Are you motivated by achieving goals? Create a to-do list so you can check off your completed tasks at the end of the day or week.

  • Or do you crave social contact and connection? Call your co-workers instead of emailing them and participate in virtual coffee breaks.

In a nutshell: working from home implies personal responsibility

  • Home office implies personal responsibility. It can be exhausting but offers flexibility and an individualised work arrangement.

  • Create a productive work environment with an ergonomic workspace free from distractions and clearly separate this workspace from your private life.

  • Self-selected structures and routines will guide you through your workday and increase your motivation to work.

These tips will allow you to enjoy the benefits of the home office and effectively manage the challenges. This way, you can use your time efficiently, increase your productivity and be motivated to complete your tasks. If, despite everything, you still feel overwhelmed by work stress, take a look at our blog post on stress management. Here you can learn how to eliminate stress factors and return to your workplace with less stress.

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