COVID-19: How To Make Working From Home Smarter, Not Harder

Not used to working remotely? Here's how to increase productivity while we work from home and face the realities of COVID-19.

Photo: Hank Stout, co-founder of Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm | Courtesy Photo

We are living through a global pandemic. There’s no escaping this reality. Communities across the world have ground to a standstill. Businesses have closed their doors (some indefinitely). Daily commutes now consist of movement from the bed to a home office or workspace. Every industry has felt the impact of this global health emergency in one way or another.

It’s an abrupt and necessary transition.

The days ahead can seem confusing as we shift our work mindset from offices to home, manage daily distractions, and juggle new obligations. As many of us get used to working remotely, we must stay on top of our daily responsibilities. Here’s a look at five ways to increase productivity while we work remotely and face the realities of COVID-19.


1. Set up a workstation

Prolonged remote working requires an in-home workstation. Since most of us will be in quarantine, or under some type of shelter in place order, it’s beneficial to set up a workspace that is 100% dedicated to working.

For starters, invest in the right equipment. An ergonomic office chair and a desk at an appropriate height are great home office additions. You could also invest in a standing desk if sitting isn’t ideal for your back. If you aren’t able to invest in new office furniture, improvise with what you have at home. Create a dedicated workstation that fits your unique needs.


2. Establish a routine

Working from home can be exciting at first, but after a while, a lack of routine can be a tremendous productivity killer. This is why establishing a routine is necessary.

We easily develop a routine when we commute to an office: we drive to work, work at our desks, eat lunch, go back to our desks, and then go home. But as we navigate working from home, that daily routine can easily slip away.

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Establishing a schedule and sticking to it is a habit that will increase your productivity. Without it, relaxation and work become intertwined, and it’s hard to differentiate the two. Treat every day as if you’re going to the office. Instead of going outside, your office is your kitchen table, patio, or home office.


3. Prioritize self-care

Productivity is important, and so is self-care. Remote working is easy and a lot can be done, but it can also take a toll on your mental health. As the world grapples with COVID-19, it’s especially important we take care of ourselves as we each do our part to #FlattenTheCurve.

Social distancing can affect our minds profoundly. During this time, take breaks. Remind yourself this won’t last forever. If it becomes too much, take a walk outside, call a friend, or get some exercise. A little break every now and then is healthy and it can even increase your work energy.


4. Minimize distractions

When we are at home, there are distractions. There may be pets running around, kids playing in the next room, or a TV blaring in the background. Without the office culture surrounding you, it’s easy to be distracted in your own house while working.

If you notice yourself becoming distracted, here are some ways you can refocus:

  • Turn on white noise
  • Put on headphones and listen to things that help put you in the working zone
  • Take a coffee or tea break
  • Go to an isolated room
  • Set productivity timers

All of these actions are a great start to get you back on track.


5. Establish boundaries

Last but not least, establishing boundaries is another way to increase productivity. Once you proactively address distractions, create a routine, and create a workstation, it’s time to address them.

Boundaries can include working from a different room in your house or apartment, hanging a do not disturb notice on your door, activating Airplane mode on your phone, or simply telling your family your work hours are essential and you need to be alone at specific times. This will help your work-from-home mentality and get you on track for more focused and productive days ahead.


Hank Stout co-founded Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm, to protect and pursue the rights of people who were harmed by the carelessness of others. Mr. Stout is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial lawyer who has been actively trying cases for over fifteen years. In recognition of his accomplishments and results, he has been selected by Thompson Reuters as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas) and has been selected as Lead Counsel.


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