In line with recent events, we are being encouraged to spend more time inside. Find out how to use your time effectively for your online learning, or whilst working from home.
Published on: 20 March 2020
The rising trend of remote work at tech companies shows no signs of slowing down. The nature of the industry itself means technology is a global language. With products, tools, software and services, the technology industry is able to connect remote workers across the globe.
Online learning is also on the rise. With no need to adhere to strict lecture times, or visit dedicated classrooms, there has never been a more flexible way to learn.
However, working or studying at home can present some unique challenges. You’re not around your colleagues or peers to bounce ideas off, or gain support. It also means there’s no one looking over your shoulder to keep you focussed.
Working or studying from home also means it’s difficult to keep a separation between work life and home life. We’re all used to commuting, or going into the office, but when we work from home we’re surrounded by everything. It’s tempting to watch TV, clean the kitchen or do the laundry; things we won’t ordinarily do during office hours or inside a classroom.
How do remote workers remain productive and what is the best way to get your studying done whilst in lockdown? These are our top tips for all employees new to working remotely.
Set your routine
It’s important to keep your usual working routine when working or studying from home. There’s a tendency to not get up, work from your sofa, or stay in your pyjamas. However, you’ll feel better and be more productive if you get up and get dressed.
If you’re missing your usual walk to or from work, then there’s no reason you can’t go for a short walk before your working day, or at the end of the day. It helps to separate your work day from your leisure time.
If you can, set yourself a work area so you can separate your working world or studying from your home life. You might not have a desk, but create space on your dining table, coffee table or a spare corner at home if you can. A clear physical boundary will help set the working scene at home.
The most important thing is to stay in ‘the zone’ when working or studying from home. Keep distractions away - yes that means putting your phone in another room. Try wearing headphones to block out noise from outside, and definitely no TV or Netflix.
Time management is of course a big challenge. It’s vital to balance your work, and non-work times. Create clear boundaries otherwise your work life and personal life could suffer. Don’t let work or study intrude on sleep, relaxation or family time.
Establish your peak performance times, it's unrealistic to think you can work or study at the same pace consistently. Most people have high and low periods of activity during the day. Your peak times could depend on your energy, or the needs of your family at home, so set expectations and establish the times you’re most able to best focus, work productively.
Manage your time throughout the day and block out dedicated breaks to make tea, check your phone or read the news. Whilst there’s no one looking over your shoulder we know there’s the temptation to check your phone more often than usual.
If you need a little more motivation, set aside work blocks where you can work collaboratively with colleagues across a video call. Even having the video connection whilst you work makes you more accountable, and therefore more productive. For those studying, why not ask someone at home to make you more accountable. Spend time teaching them what you’ve just learned. This is also a good method to help the knowledge stay in your mind better.
As a general rule, take a 20 minute break every few hours or so. Try the Pomodoro Tracker, a time management tool to boost productivity. It cuts down interruptions and gives you short, sharp times to focus before having a well deserved break.
Be adaptable and open to change when your schedule changes. During the current climate it may be all hands on deck, or some downtime to focus on some of those projects or modules you’ve been putting off for a while.
Isolation can be tough on anybody, especially for those used to working in large open plan offices or studying in the library surrounded by others. With a lack of everyday face-to-face communication, it can take some adjustment.
That’s why teleconference apps or instant message platforms like Slack, Hangouts or Microsoft Teams are essential. In fact, there has been a recent surge in downloads of teleconference apps during this time, demonstrating how technology is helping businesses.
Teleconferencing means you can still have your meetings, training sessions and catch ups instantly without having to communicate over email.
These apps also connect to project management software like Asana or Trello, making it even easier to keep track of your tasks and deadlines through instant messages.
Some businesses use video conferencing for daily stand ups in teams, or simply working together on projects despite not being in the office.
Check in with your colleagues throughout the day and ensure people know you’re on the end of the line should they need you. It’s important to maintain contact
Communicating regularly about your progress on projects means it’s easier to alleviate any challenges you might have, and keeps conversation open should you need help.
Whether you are new to this learning style or a seasoned remote worker, we hope you find these tips useful. Our StudentCareTM team remains on-hand to offer further advice so please do not hesitate to get in contact.