Increase Your Telework Productivity

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

We have been adjusting to the new normal of working from home for the past three weeks. In my conversations with clients, it seems as though introverts are dealing with it a little better than extroverts who are finding isolation challenging and draining. Below are some tips to increase your telework productivity and better support your team if you lead others. (Please see hyper-links below for tips on engaging in these activities.)

For everyone:

  • Maintain a daily routine. Wake up at the same time as a usual work day. Shower and get dressed rather than working in PJs all day.
  • Set boundaries. Keep places where you do work and don’t do work separate. Maintain normal working hours, and don’t check emails outside of regular business hours.
  • Look ahead at your schedule and reach out to others in advance for what you may need to accomplish tasks.
  • Focus on what you can do and accomplish. Focus on what you can control and influence and let go of what you can’t.
  • Stay in contact with people (co-workers, friends and family) via email, phone, text, Zoom, etc.
  • Download files and do most of your work off of your organization’s VPN for better efficiency.
  • Take a walk outside in the middle of the day to refresh and re-energize.
  • Use your usual commute time for something other than sleeping in, such as reading, exercising, spending time with your family, etc.
  • Monitor and limit the amount of media (news, social media, etc.) you take in.
  • Have a contingency plan. What you will do if you or a family member gets sick?
  • Take care of yourself physically. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, exercise, take vitamins, comply with social distancing guidelines, etc.
  • Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Utilize deep breathing, practice gratitude, engage in mindfulness (be present to what you are doing).
  • Take time to reflect. Consider what matters most to you and how to make the best use of your time. What are your real priorities both now and long term?
  • Look for the silver lining. What positives are coming out of this difficult situation? (More time with family, exercising more, learning to use new technology, etc.)

For leaders:

  • Reach out to your team members at least once per day whether via email, text, phone call, video conference or team meeting.
  • Hold virtual team meetings at least once per week so everyone has a chance to connect and ask for what they may need to be more productive.
  • Ask team members individually how they are doing, not just with tasks, but personally. Ask, “What are some of your anxieties and challenges? What can I do to help?  What do you need from me to perform at your best given these circumstances?”
  • Demonstrate empathy for the difficulties that many are going through. Working from home is especially challenging for people with young children. They are trying to balance their workload with supervising and/or home schooling their children. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
  • Clearly communicate your expectations. If you are responding to emails outside of normal business hours because that’s what works for you. Be sure to communicate that you do not expect your team members to do the same.
  • Provide more encouragement, support and praise than you normally do.
  • Look for ways to be more innovative and collaborative. What processes can be streamlined or eliminated given the new environment?

May we all continue to take care of ourselves and use this time to be more productive and innovative. I wish you good health, happiness and resilience in the weeks and months ahead. May we all come out of this stronger and more connected than we were going into it.

“It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less.” – Nathan W. Morris

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

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