Worker's Guide to Being Productive at Home

Worker’s Guide to Being Productive at Home


Hundreds of thousands of people work from home across the globe. Perhaps it's new for you, so here are some ideas to help you get off to a good start and maintain a productive routine. 

Setup your Home Office 

Assemble your equipment if you have any. Whether you have a computer or not, do an ergonomics assessment of your space. This is not what you are used to, so be sure it will be productively comfortable and not strain your eyes, your back, your wrists or your neck. 

Organize Your Work at Home Routine 

Set your work hours or post them on the Door, the fridge or pin them to a curtain hung between rooms if there is no door. Schedule your lunch breaks and short breaks throughout the day to establish a structure for yourself. If your housemates large and small need you during the day, pre-arrange the appropriate circumstances under which they may interrupt you. 

Have a "Get Started" and a "Clock Out" routine to help you transition in and out of work mode. When possible, schedule meetings around when you know your house will likely be quiet and pose fewer interruptions, distractions or loud noises. 

Organize Your Work Digitally 

Perhaps you are used to having bulletin boards, checklists and paper to organize your daily work. Moving home can make that challenging. Here are some ideas to organize your work digitally. 

  • Use Outlook to set your schedule so your coworkers know when you are available. 
  • Use a To-Do list app such as To Do, to compile and keep track of your tasks each day and week. Many apps even have a mobile version so you can be focused no matter what. 
  • Use a chat application to communicate with coworkers and save an email for more formal communications.  
  • Make sure your Outlook profile has your updated contact information so folks can reach you. 
  • Use online collaboration tools such as Office 365 or Google Docs for Business so you and your coworkers can be working on the same project or even document at the same time. 

Demonstrate Productivity and Availability 

Be clear about what you are doing, when you are available, and what you need. Working from home is a change for you, and managing a distributed workforce is likely new for your manager too. Help them out by overcommunicating and not giving them room to wonder what you're doing or how you're doing. If you have questions or need help, ask. Give them a chance to support you and help you be successful. 

Show up to online meetings, participate, use your webcam if you have one. You can even use a fun digital background if you are using Zoom, and make it look like you're on the beach or the top of the Eiffel Tower. New to online meetings? Check out our Worker's Guide to Participating in Web Meetings. 

Be responsive and available to your coworkers. Make sure they know how to contact you and when you are available. When we communicate often, we feel less isolated or alone. Most of us aren't motivated to be productive if we're on an island - for whatever reason. 

Take care of yourself and your family 

Our health is super important, especially now. If you need rest, if your family needs you, be honest with your manager. Honesty and clear communication is best, especially when working from home. Keep in touch with your work family too. Reach out to at least one person a day, just to see how they're doing and be a ray of sunshine in their day, or their source of laughter, or their source of positivity.