In this trying time of Coronavirus pandemic, remote work or working from home has moved from being a perk to a policy.

Many companies, within and outside Nigeria, have instructed their employees to work from home and practise social distancing—refrain from making social contact as much as possible—and self-isolate. This is part of efforts to reduce the spread of the novel viral disease (also known as COVID-19).

But Nigeria is a peculiar country where working from home difficult. Notably, lack of constant power supply and good internet connection are major problems (the same reason most Lagosians prefer to go to office in spite of the four hours they waste in traffic daily).

In addition to the agelong problems of erratic electricity and poor internet connection, there are other latent challenges people who are new to working from home might face during this period of social distancing and self-isolation.

And inadvertently, how productive workers are during this period of social distancing could set a precedence in making a case for or against working from home in Nigeria.

Also read: Make "work from home" work for you

So we asked remote work veterans, who collectively have more than 15 years of experience of working from home, to share some tips that have helped them to be productive while working from home over the years.

Five ways to stay productive while working from home during Coronavirus pandemic

These tips have helped these longtime remote workers to effectively work from home over the years and they would also help people who are working from home during this pandemic to stay productive.

1. Be disciplined

You would be tempted from all sides when working from home. Since there is no supervisor looking over your shoulders, to sleep, chill, and watch your favourite series would be really attractive.

You would be tempted to go AWOL; turn off your phone, ignore communications from your boss and colleagues, and give excuses.

Don't fall for these temptations. Get your act together; it's remote work not vacation or paid leave.

Ayooluwa Haastrup, a digital marketer and community manager, said: "I decided that if I want to keep making money and fund my baby girl lifestyle, I will need to be disciplined and trust myself to work efficiently without sleeping all day."

Working from home has improved my creativity and made me realize my entreprenurial potential (I mean I pay salaries now). I also started a series, called Dear Social Media Manager.

—Ayooluwa Haastrup

Discipline yourself. Work from home and earn your pay.

2. Set up a work environment

Your house is homely: It was built and decorated to make you relax and comfortable. Some people even take this further, they don't go home with office work. They would rather sleep in the office to complete their tasks.

But now that you're compelled to work from home, what do you do? Set up a work environment in your house; call it a home office.

"It's important that you have a space that can inspire your creativity, reduce distraction and help you get work done. I have a work environment at home," Ayobamigbe Teriba, Relationship Associate at Ingressive Capital, said.

You can put together a conducive work environment in your house on a small budget (it'd come in handy even after the pandemic is over). Or you can follow these steps suggested by Opeyemi Olugbemiro, Communication Strategist at FourthConvas:

  • Wake up and have your birth early
  • Leave the bed and work from a table
  • Work from your personal computer

3. Have a structure

Don't wing it. Organise and plan your day.

I have put structures in place to know when to wake up and make sure I speak with my graphic designer, copywriters and make my posts. This structure has made working from home easier for me.

—Ayooluwa Haastrup

If your office uses project management tools like Asana and Trello, it's even better. These tools will help you to keep track of your deliverables. You can also have your personal daily to-do lists that breaks down the deliverables into bits and pieces.

I draw up a list of things to do and leave it on the board in my room

—Opeyemi Olugbemiro, Social Community Manager at FourthCanvas

You also want to time your tasks to avoid burnout and maintain your level of concentration.

I do my work in bits to maintain my level of concentration. I also use the Warren Buffett model of task sharing.

Ayobamigbe Teriba, Relationship Associate at Ingressive Capital

4. Have your tools ready

For most people that can and would be working remotely, the lifeblood of their productivity is power and internet.

Because of how Nigeria is, make sure you have alternative sources of power, a generating set or inverter, and unlimited fast internet service.

Alternatively, you can get "a laptop with long battery life (at least six hours) such as MacBook Pro, Dell XPS 13, HP's Envy series, and Lenovo Carbon X1," Olabinjo Adeniran, co-founder of Future Africa, suggests.

You can also find the tune of the distribution company of  your area and dance to it: work when they give you light. But if nothing is working, let your boss know, they can get you power packs.

Don't forget good food is also part of your tools. Arrange something for yourself or subscribe to Eden.

5. Find your booster and use it

What gets you into the invincible work mood? A playlist, energy drink, or snacking? Whatever ignites your mojo, use it during this trying and depressing time to keep your head up.

Music is a great booster for me. I have songs for each mood of cake I want to bake. Music helps me to be creative.

Also, you can work when you're most active. Whether you're a night owl or an early bird, working from home allows you to work at the best time (just make sure you deliver as and when due).