Creating an environment for a productive home office

The current context is forcing many companies to consider reassessing how to keep employees safe while they remain productive.

March 16, 2020

The current context is forcing many companies to consider reassessing how to keep employees safe while they remain productive. A home office is certainly one of the security policies that are already being considered.

For many organizations, the idea of working from home causes distrust even though many studies suggest that there is an increase in performance and work-life balance. "Work is what you do, not where you do it” is a phrase that we usually mention a lot in Change Management, alluding to the fact that flexibility at work is a necessity, and unlocking desk workers is a trend in vogue. However, making the change is not as easy as it seems. Productivity is related to managing our time efficiently to achieve the proposed goals. For this reason, self-organization is essential.

Making this transition is vital right now, always focusing on making the employee feel comfortable with this change and make the most of it. Here are some tips:

1 – Create and define your workspace: it is important to delimit a workspace, a place to disconnect. Organize the desk or table so that it is functional and avoids distractions, generating commitment and especially focus on daily activities. It is also important to ensure privacy in the workspace, therefore, it establishes a physical barrier that allows you to concentrate on the work and not get distracted.

2 – Establish signs like "Do Not Disturb": if you live in a shared space with your family, it is necessary to define the moments where you can be interrupted and the ones, where you can’t. Together establish an"at work" sign, so that other people understand that, even when you are there and they can see you, it doesn´t mean that it’s OK to interrupt your concentration, thinking or workflow mode.

3 – Keep a routine: the temptation to stay in pajamas all day is always there, and it´s easy to neglect the level of activity when you work from home, so it’s vital to establish a routine that allows you to keep up with physical and mental health. It’s important to establish a rigorous schedule of meals, breaks, and even more importantly, an end-of-work schedule.

4 – Make and follow your agenda: in the afternoon define all the activities you have to do for the next day and schedule not only calls and meetings, but follow-ups, reminders, and activities that have to be completed. Outlook offers different coloring and labeling options that can help you define and group activities.

5 – Schedule time between meetings: this is a good practice in general, but even more critical when working remotely. Today many people have their collapsed call schedules and that can give them the feeling that they can't work on anything else. Plan your activities in advance and schedule time between calls to complete them.

6 – Keep your calendar up to date: coordinate with your team to keep your calendars up to date and shared, not only in meetings and calls but also in terms of the activities that need to be completed. Thus, you can better organize the execution of tasks among each other.

7 – Proactively contact your clients and colleagues: it is important to maintain contact with teams and clients even when we are not in person with them. Schedule reminders for communication via email or a call to keep in touch. If they are working as a group or in the middle of a project, send updates to your team and clients so that they can be aware of what phase or stage they are working on. Previously, you can agree on the frequency, content and updates option they prefer.

8 – Take a break. Schedule pauses to stand up from your desk and get some air, for lunch and snack. This means you must have time to disconnect and not be running more than required.

DISCLAIMER: JLL and its staff are not authorized or qualified to guide or influence you in preparing your own business continuity plans from a health and public policy perspective. While we are making efforts to ensure that we provide an up- to-date list of publicly available resources, all the details about COVID-19, as well as the health and public policy implications, must be addressed with the advice of an independent specialist. 

Author: Melisa Ladera, Consultant Workplace & Change Management