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How to stay productive while working from home

Thousands of Canadians are working from home to help delay the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re a business owner, this could be a big adjustment for you and your employees. It might be the first time your team is working from home.

You’re likely asking yourself:

  • What are the best ways to manage my workforce remotely?
  • What digital tools are available to me?
  • How do I stay productive with lots of distractions at home?

The FBC marketing team has experience working from home, since we live across Canada or work remotely a few days a week.

We polled the team for their tips and advice on how to stay productive while working from home.

Find a collaborative software for your team

There are several great tools that help you and your team collaborate remotely. Some options include Slack, Trello, Airtable and BaseCamp. At FBC, we use Microsoft Teams.

Thanks to Teams, we can share files, chat and book virtual meetings through one platform. We use the planner tool on Teams to manage projects and schedule all marketing tasks.

By providing visibility to tasks and deadlines, we’re all accountable and on track.

The marketing team has a recurring weekly virtual meeting to keep in touch. We’re also introducing a daily check-in to keep us connected during the pandemic while we all work from home.

Utilize technology to keep up communication

You might be worried about staying in touch with your employees. But you can keep up the flow of communication through multiple channels.

“Ensure you and your team’s communication is not interrupted by working from home. It’s different than walking down the hallway to ask a quick question or having an impromptu brainstorm session. This could mean making sure email, Skype, Teams is working and making sure your phone is forwarded properly — make sure you can be reached, and you can easily reach your team. That might mean setting up group chats or other collaborative communication means. Having a library of frequently used resources available on a cloud is a best practice.”
— Jade C., Lead Generation Manager

Have a dedicated workspace

Grabbing your laptop and sitting on the couch is tempting. But it’s tough to stay focused if your TV or fridge is nearby, or there’s a pile of laundry by your feet.

“I use a separate workspace and I have it set up like my desk at work with no distractions around me.”
— Rachel A., Marketing Specialist

“Keep your workspace clean and tidy and separate from the rest of the home so you don’t get distracted by other chores.”
— Katie M., CRM Specialist

Stick to your schedule

By keeping your office hours, your brain will feel like it’s business as usual. It’s also important to set firm boundaries, as it’s easy to keep working through the evening if your laptop is on.

“I keep my routine in the morning. I wake up, make coffee, shower and change. I don’t change into work clothes but yoga pants and a comfy sweater.”
— Rachel A., Marketing Specialist

“I maintain the same schedule as when I work in the office and limit access to things that might cause distraction — my personal cell phone is muted and I don’t turn on the TV. I do listen to music as background noise helps me to focus.”
— Anna R., Marketing Manager

“I keep my regular office hours and don’t do chores or errands during the day. At the end of the workday, I power off my computer to separate work and downtime.”
— Silvia P., Communications Specialist

Stay in touch with colleagues

You might feel isolated from your team when working remotely. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or schedule a quick meeting to catch up.

“Maintain contact with colleagues, which can help combat a feeling of disconnect.”
— Katie M., CRM Specialist

“Set a specific time to connect with people. We won’t see each other at the water cooler or have those casual conversations in the hallway. Setting a time to have casual connections will help you feel less isolated while ensuring you don’t lose productivity.”
— Jimm H., Marketing Director

Create a to-do list

Your coworkers may have less visibility to what’s on your plate if you’re not beside them in the office. You might also find it harder to focus at home.

“Prioritize and list items to be done – it can be easy to get overloaded when working from home, when coworkers don’t realize various other coworkers have been sending requests for help/work as well.” — Katie M., CRM Specialist

Get up and stretch

Take some time to go for a walk or do a yoga video in the morning before work. Exercise is not only good for your overall health, but it boosts productivity.

“I have a desk area set up at home and make sure all distractions, with the exception of music, remain off. I also find a short walk (10-15 mins) in the middle of the day can help with staying focused.” — Sarah M., Marketing and Events Coordinator

“Find time to get out of the house: a walk around the block or even sit on the balcony or deck.” — Jimm H., Marketing Director

Use a timer

You might find yourself leaving your desk to chat with family or open the fridge. It’s important to keep taking coffee and lunch breaks, but you might need some help keeping on track.

“To stay focused on a task – set a timer for 45 minutes and be disciplined not to move off that task until the timer sounds (it prevents checking email, social media, grabbing a snack, or somehow getting off track). — Jimm H., Marketing Director

More resources

Canadian government announces aid package for workers and businesses impacted by COVID-19

What your small business needs to know about COVID-19