Can we be as productive working from home?

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With many of us now wondering how we will cope with remote working, Julie Peacock, Business Director at Robert Walters, shares her experience and key tips when working from home.

For the past four years, Julie has worked a three day week from home. 2019 was one of her best years in terms of client engagements and successful mandates - having worked most of last year on a flexi, remote-working schedule. So how does Julie maintain a high level of productivity during long periods of remote working? Read Julie's insights and top tips below. 

Top tips from Julie when working from home

  • Do some exercise. Some people may love the workouts popping up online each day, but I prefer a 30 minute to one hour walk each day. It's so easy not to, and to work on through if you're having a bit of a ‘lazy’ day, but I am completely refreshed and revitalised afterwards. Fresh air is good from a health perspective, as well as a complete break away from your laptop and a change of scenery. 

    My working hours following are far more productive, with a clearer, more efficient head. Additionally, without this break I end the day mentally tired but not physically (I haven't even had the daily commute when at home or running between floors in the office!). This means I don't get to sleep as easily which can affect my ability to work as effectively the next day.

Heavy investment from the Group in innovation and technology gives us all the tools we need to successfully carry business on as usual from home

  • Keep work 'life' separate. Decide the hours you are going to work and where possible, close down the PC after. There are so many potential distractions around at home with the TV at hand, house mates, temptations to start cleaning and without the pressure of your manager or director's presence – you have to be your own motivator - decide on the time you are going to focus, and stay focused.

    If you need to, clear away your work equipment when finished so that your relaxation space is just that and you can switch off.

  • Use your company's resources. Make use of your company's resources and communications channels. What I have learnt in recent weeks is just how much technology there is to support me – we have seen huge investment from Robert Walters in this area, particularly during the past couple of years and this really gives us all the tools we need to work successfully. Although we can’t physically meet our candidates and clients currently, we have numerous options available for virtual meetings, video interviews and digital candidate shortlisting processes, which still provide face-to-face contact without the need of being in the same room.

Working at home with children

Be realistic: you are highly unlikely to be able to work a full eight to nine hours straight with children around, so trying to keep going when they need your attention is only going to raise your stress levels. You may need to achieve your eight hour day at different times through the day. I often get up early and complete work before my son wakes up or after he has gone to bed as an example, to allow more time during the day to give him attention and still achieve my work goals.

Chunking your time. If you set aside some focussed time to spend with family, it won't feel like a distraction from work, but instead will be part of your planned day. Similarly with work, aim to spend a chunk (maybe a couple of hours or whatever is realistic) to focus on work. You may be more able to focus on work knowing you have some family time coming up. 

I find my son is very happy to sit and play for several hours on his own, if we have already engaged in a ‘fun’ activity where he has had my undivided attention for that day or one promised for later – this week’s activities have included – cake making, completing a jigsaw puzzle together and covering his homework set from school.

It is productivity that ultimately matters at times like these. You may not be able to work non-stop during 'working hours' but you can break up your day by at times of the day when you're able to be more productive. Is there time before children are awake or after they go to bed to complete tasks? In my role I find candidates and clients are often hugely appreciative when I am able to speak to them outside of working hours, as this suits their schedules and they are more likely to be able to engage in a more detailed conversation.

Finally: Expel the energy! At some point during the day children need to be active - I encourage my son, Liam to run around on our daily walks as much as is feasible. He is then far happier to sit and occupy himself and I have more time to spend completing my work without interruptions.

Flexing my hours and work location to suit my need to incorporate childcare, has allowed me not only to be more productive but also to achieve a promotion to Business Director.

Time that was spent on what for me was a lengthy commute is now usable and I can work when needed at the times which suit my childcare arrangements - this flexible approach in itself motivates me to achieve.

For everyone working remotely during this unexpected time, I would say it is possible to still achieve your goals and more!

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