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How to Increase Productivity While Working at Home During COVID Outbreak

With new cases of coronavirus being reported almost every day in India, most employers have asked their employees to work remotely. Although the government hasn’t made it compulsory for all companies to shut down their offices, it has surely advised the employers to adopt work from home. For some workers, of course, this isn’t an option, but those who have been given this privilege might be thinking on how to best maximize their ‘new workplace’ in a productive manner. Many employees have already been in a situation where they have worked remotely but for others, this isn’t possible as their field requires their physical presence or the thought of working from home is more tiresome than a perk.

Work from home does come with a few perks like you can work in your comfortable pyjamas, spend some time with your kids and pets, shift your work desk if you aren’t comfortable, etc., but it also has some drawbacks. You can easily be distracted, there is no track of time, you tend to isolate yourself, and so on. Many people have already mastered the art of working from home, but for those of you who haven’t, we’ve listed down a few pointers that will make this transition easier, enjoyable, and productive.

Practices to Follow at ‘Work’

If you are one of those who have never worked from home before, it might seem like a vacation. Skipping stressful commutes and lying down on the sofa to work might seem like the only break you needed. However remote working can be isolating and stressful too. Have a look at the list we’ve prepared that will make you stay energetic and alert during your ‘work hours’.

Make a Schedule and Stick to It

Working from home can be quite distracting and you tend to procrastinate. While at home, you suddenly have the urge and energy to do chores that will distract you from working: cleaning your closet, organizing your room, taking frequent trips to the kitchen, etc. If you’re working from your home without anyone to monitor you, make sure you set deadlines for yourself and be your own boss. Set your own working hours, make a list of tasks you need to complete by the end of the day (your working hours), monitor your breaks, and stick to them.

Designate a Work Space at Home

Working from home can be difficult if you don’t have a proper desk or a workspace. Your bed or your sofa will surely seem tempting at times like these but of course, they do not inspire productivity. Even though your remote working might be temporary, having a designated workspace will surely prove to be more productive for you and your work. You can use a corner of your dining table, a breakfast nook, or maybe even your child’s study table.

Do Not Isolate Completely

While working at home, you might not be communicating much with your colleagues which can also affect your work. Take a tea break and utilize that time to call up and talk to your work friends, keep your boss informed about the work you did throughout the day, etc. The lack of human interaction might affect your work so make sure you keep your colleagues and bosses updated with your work.

Tech Tools to Stay Productive

While working from home it is nearly impossible to keep up with the endless barrage of news, emails, calls, social media, meetings, client calls, etc. It gets difficult to keep track of everything while working remotely and it can also cause miscommunication. Ignoring the distractions around you is dependent on your own will, but we have listed down a set of tools you can use to stay more organised.

Streamlining Communication

When you’re working in isolation, you tend to misinterpret briefs given to you by your bosses or coworkers. You will need a tool to streamline communication within the organization. Of course, there are emails, but they don’t offer as much flexibility and can be time-consuming to exchange dozens of emails in a day. However, you can’t even use online apps which tend to distract you by personal communications.

Slack​ is an online tool that offers you just the right balance between emails and chat programs so that you can quickly and easily communicate with your bosses and colleagues. It includes features such as group and private messaging, sharing of videos, images, and other files, rich link summaries, notifications, etc. You can set up a general channel for all communications, specific channels for teams or special projects, and direct messaging for one-on-one communication. Slack even integrates with Twitter, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., and automatically syncs your laptop, phone, and tablet, once you sign in.

Collaborate on Cloud

Sharing materials with your team via cloud-based services allows you to collaborate on projects easily with them. Dropbox and Google Drive are two of the free or low-cost services which let you work together on a live document with an active internet connection.

JioCloud​ is also a premium cloud storage service which offers free storage upon signing up. It allows you to easily store, sync, and share files with your team. You can access those files from any smartphone or laptop. The cloud service will sync all your data once you sign in.

Adopt a Video Conferencing App

Whether for a quick briefing session with your team or a meeting with your client, video conferencing apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Tango, etc., will help you connect face-to-face with them from afar. Google has said that they want to make it easier for people to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Till July 1st, the company’s G Suite and G Suite for education consumers can use Hangout Meet’s premium functionality for free. These features mean that individuals can now participate in virtual meetings with up to 250 people and live streams with up to 1,00,000 viewers. In addition to this, you could also save the recordings of your meeting on Google Drive.

JioMeet​ is also one of the newest video conferencing apps out there. It allows the users to connect up to ​5 participants for free, on the JioMeet app. Businesses can connect up to 100 participants in a conference using the app, on any device, from anywhere in the world. It has a lot of cool features like WebRTC support where a user can click on the invite and join using any browser, conduct B2B meetings, schedule calls, etc.

For big business meetings, you could also use ​Zoom​. You can host up to 100 participants in one call for 40 minutes. It also has features like desktop and application sharing, screen share any app, group messaging, and more. Zoom is also ​updating its digital infrastructure​ to support the influx of free users. The traffic of these users will normally put a strain and updating their infrastructure would be beneficial.

Video conferencing apps also allow you to share your screen with your colleagues to have a real-time view of your work. Screen sharing helps the team give instant feedback on your work while working from another part of the world. These are free services and will let you place internet voice and video calls from any part of the world and can function on almost any device.

Organize Your Notes and Reminders

When working from afar you might tend to forget your task list for the day. We suggest trying an online organizer to take care of your task list. ​Evernote​ is one of the most popular task management apps you can download. It is available for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. It allows you to take down notes, capture photos to save as a note, create checklists, and even record voice notes. So you wouldn’t need to worry about arranging your post-it notes and setting 15 different reminders for the day.

You can easily sync all your data across devices. If you have made a note on your phone, you can access it on your laptop too! Evernote is a great tool when working in teams for group projects. It is free for two devices, however, you can buy subscriptions for more than two as well.

Companies Jumping in to Offer Free Work From Home Tools

The coronavirus outbreak has led some tech companies to rearrange their Q2 strategies. The companies which have come forward to help workers during times like these are ​Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom, and LogMeIn. We have already mentioned Google’s GSuite services. Microsoft Office sees extensive use of its products at almost all workplaces. The consumer Office 365 users will get a free update and have increased the limit of how many users can be a part of the team.

Following the announcements made by the two tech giants, companies like Cisco, Zoom, and LogMeIn have also rolled out their premium services. Cisco is going to get rid of the time restrictions on the free version of its WebEx service. It would allow up to 100 participants for a meeting. LogMeIn will release its Emergency Remote Work Kits. These include remote access and conferencing tools for free.

Whether you’ve decided to self-quarantine or your office has made work from home compulsory, these tips and tools will surely help you make the most of your ‘work from home’ days. If you’re new to this system, it might be overwhelming and difficult for you at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be smooth sailing. Even after office hours, make sure you don’t spend much time out of your homes and avoid going to crowded places. If you’re a regular to the work from home environment do let us know what tips and tools you use to make the most out of your work.

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