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Regular or remote: maximise productivity wherever your office is

Regular or remote: maximise productivity wherever your office is 

As we navigate this strange new business landscape we find ourselves in, we’re all looking for ways to optimise the way we work. The truth is, from now onwards, most people won’t work exclusively from one location, and will need to find effective ways to move between working from a conventional office to working from home.

At the beginning of lockdown, I started working from my unfurnished, sterile garden cottage. Now it is a comfortable, fully functioning office that boasts a desk, proper office chair, printer, whiteboard and a bookshelf filled with my favourite reads. I even have a rug (on temporary loan, with my wife’s permission, from inside our home).

I appreciate that not everyone has a garden cottage that they can exclusively use as a home office or access to a study or spare room in their home. Many have had to make a plan that involved sharing the dining room table with their partner, children, or both.

Now that we have moved to lockdown level 3, there is the added stress of working between your home office and work office. I, for example, need to go into the Cleardata office, as well as the Tidy Files office regularly, which means I’m effectively moving between three workspaces every week.  

This has brought with it a whole new set of challenges. Between managing a home and parenting two children, with my wife and managing two businesses, I sometimes feel that whoever shouts the loudest gets my attention. That’s not a great strategy, however, it wasn’t an intentioned approach to dealing with this unprecedented situation, but rather a coping mechanism of sorts!

Having had time to consider what I should be doing instead, I’ve come up with a few ideas to help me better manage my various workspaces – including those I sometimes find myself inadvertently sharing with the family. Hopefully, you’ll find these useful too:

1.       Set up a dedicated workspace

When the garden cottage became my primary workspace, it really highlighted the importance of creating a dedicated space from which to work. If you don’t have access to a separate space like this and share your available space with your partner, spouse or other members of the family, consider creating a portable workstation. One popular idea is to use a crate or a box and put inside everything you need to do your work. Not only does this keep your work essentials safe and all together in one place, but it can be easily moved or packed away when needed.

2.       Have the right tools on hand

At the office, all your go-to necessities from small stationery items to bigger equipment like your printer are right where you need them. At home…not so much! But having quick and easy access to your workplace tools can make the world of difference in your productivity levels. So, stock up on the stationery you need, put printers and scanners in easy-to-reach places and ensure your workspace is as inviting as you need it to be to get work done. If you need an inspired place in which to work, bring in colour, plants, or family photos to create just the right environment.

3.       Become a technology whizz

Thankfully, there are a ton of new technologies available that make life easier as we all fully entrench ourselves as remote workers. These range from personalised time management apps to the mainstream video conferencing tools we have quickly learnt we can’t live without.  Microsoft Teams became our company standard, so I took the time to watch video tutorials that explained all the features and benefits to ensure I didn’t waste time once I was on a meeting.  My advice? Scout out the tech that best suits the work you do, then get to know how it works properly. With no IT guy to call when you hit a glitch, you’re going to want to know how to fix those gremlins when they creep into your apps and programmes.

4.       Plan, prepare and schedule

There’s a temptation, when you work from home, to just allow the day to play itself out as it will and handle jobs as they come in. But just as you would plan ahead at the office, so you should do the same when working remotely. In fact, it’s even more important if you’re moving between locations and don’t want to find you’ve left important materials you need at the office today back at home, or vice versa.

I schedule which days I will work from home and which days I will be at which office. I include an admin day in my planning too, as I find paperwork and admin tasks quickly mount when I’m out of my regular routine. I make a point of sharing this schedule with my team so they know when and where I will be at any given time.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about working through lockdown, whether remotely or at the office, it’s that having the right headspace from which to work is just as important as having the right workspace.

So take the time to look after yourself and keep your eye on the prize - whatever that may be for you during these interesting times.

 

About Rob Fedder

Rob is the Managing Director of Tidy Files and Cleardata, which are Metrofile Group companies. He has been involved in the paper and electronic document management industry since 2006 and is passionate about helping businesses navigate the complex document management landscape.

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