How to maintain productivity when working remotely

Smiling man on phone in home office
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The last 18 months have seen an incredible change for many workers across the globe, with the pandemic shutting down workplaces and forcing millions to work fully remotely for the first time.

After the initial discomfort, most of us will now be pretty comfortable working remotely - but it's fair to say everyone suffers that little dip in productivity every now and again.

So if you're still getting used to working from home, or maybe just need some encouragement, here are some tips from us to make sure you stay productive, even when out of the office.

Separate work from home

First of all, and probably a pretty basic tip - try and make sure you have a designated work environment where you feel comfortable.

When the initial stay from home orders were issued, many struggled due to a lack of proper workspace separate from their home lives, with lots of us forced to work from spare rooms, sofas and even bedrooms.

However you can transform even a small corner into a workspace with just a few additions, with a desk, chair and external monitor all vital (although more on those later). Having these all set up should help you stay productive, rather than letting your mind wander too much - or even dropping off entirely. Making sure you have daylight and fresh air will also greatly help productivity, as well as ensuring you can move around and get away from your desk, (whatever form that may take) from time to time. 

Many businesses are also now embracing hybrid working, allowing workers to split their time between home and the workplace. If your business offers it, this could be an ideal alternative to going fully remote, meaning you can still visit the office when needed, say if you have a team meeting.

Finding the right mix for you is what matters - so make sure that you don't rush yourself back until you feel comfortable, and that you have a home work zone that lets you be productive.

Get the right kit

As mentioned above, having the right hardware can make all the difference when staying productive.

Having a proper desk that's big enough to accommodate your PC, desktop or laptop, as well as any accessories you may need (such as a mouse, keyboard or external monitor) can go a long way to setting you up right.

External monitors in particular can greatly improve productivity by allowing you to have multiple apps, programs or windows open across a much wider field of vision. Juggling multiple tasks has become a rite of passage for many of us, so having visibility over everything you are working on is paramount.

We've all heard how bad sitting can be for us, but getting the right office chair, preferably with some kind of ergonomic support, along with footrests and wrist supports, can also ensure you stay comfortable throughout the day, keeping your mind on what needs to be done.

Make sure you're secure

Alongside some good hardware, you'll also need the right software to ensure you stay productive when working at home.

If your company hasn't provided one, a VPN (virtual private network) should be one of your first ports of call. A VPN allows you to disguise your IP address, meaning you can stay safe from online snoopers or criminals, but also allow you to securely connect to other networks.

To back this up, you'll also need a comprehensive security solution, as criminals have increasingly begun to target remote workers who may accidentally be taking less care when connecting to their company networks or devices. Having the right protection from the latest cyber threats can take a weight off your mind, allowing you to focus on what matters most to you.

With that, the rest of your software choices will depend on your exact job role. Remote working means you'll need some kind of video conferencing platform to stay in touch with co-workers, and you'll need the right office software and collaboration tools to ensure you and your team can share all the latest updates as smoothly as possible.

Ultimately, getting all these areas right should give you everything you need to stay productive when working remotely - now the rest is up to you!