Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Kelven Udoh, Head of Communications and Marketing for Passion Incubator.
To curb the spread of Coronavirus (AKA COVID-19), remote work or working from home has become the centre of discussions on social media in Nigeria and across the world.
I've followed these discussions and noticed that reactions are mixed: some are for, while many people are against working from home. The reason for this is simple: Working from home is hard in this country. This is because of the peculiar infrastructural, cultural, etc. challenges that we face.
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The reality though, is that people must work from home if we’re to tame this ravaging beast that has killed more than 80,000 people around the world. This brings up the question: How can people stay productive while working from home?
Seven Productivity Tips for Working From Home Efficiently
I believe following these seven productivity tips will help you to work from home effectively (please, read and share as far and wide as you can).
1. Create your own workspace:
The living room or your bed might not be the best place to work if you want to be productive. That’s why creating your own workspace at home is very important as it will help you concentrate.
A simple desk and a comfortable chair in one corner of your room or on the balcony will work just fine. The workspace doesn’t have to be out of this world.
2. Get stable power:
Though Nigeria has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts (MW) of electricity, it currently generates around 4,000 MW. This is insufficient. As a result, most Nigerians don’t have constant light. This includes you.
To be productive, you have to get stable power to charge your devices. This includes your laptops, mobile phones, etc. One of the workarounds is to get a generating set (you probably have one already). You can also try to solar-powered devices and inverters.
3. Get decent internet connection:
While the cost of data has crashed in recent times, the speed of internet connection hasn’t improved much. Average internet speed is 3.15Mbps, which is 6.85Mbps less than the minimum requirement.
Slow internet connection means you can’t do much online—web pages would take forever to load and this will frustrate and greatly affect your productivity.
To be productive, you have to get decent internet connection. This might mean moving from laptop tethering to investing in broadband or fibre-to-the-home internet service.
Don't be that person who didn’t finish an important task because of slow internet!
4. Effectively use required business/communications tools:
In the office, communication between staff mostly happens face to face. This luxury doesn't exist while working from home as most conversations (formal and informal) will take place virtually.
With this in mind, companies would adopt a set of tools to ensure clear and easy communication between employees. Some of these tools include WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and Email.
To be productive and taken seriously, you need to learn how to effectively use the required tools. You don’t want to keep your boss waiting because you don’t know where the share button on Google Docs is!
5. Take breaks, regularly:
Most companies allow employees to take coffee or lunch breaks. This allows employees to regain strength, engage in informal conversations and attend to personal needs like responding to a message from a family member or friend.
You should do the same while working from home: Take breaks, regularly. If your company didn’t set a time for breaks, set one for yourself and stick to it. Use that period to do what you want, like to eat, have a chat with your siblings, text a friend or run an errand.
These breaks boost productivity and help fight isolation, a silent killer of productivity.
6. Be prepared for work:
Because you work from home and can be in your workspace in seconds, you might be tempted to stay longer in bed or spend some extra minutes chatting with friends. Don't do it!
What you should do instead is to prepare for work in almost the same way you would do if you were going to the real office.
Essentially, wake up early (you can extend the time you normally wake up for work...you deserve a little something), have your shower, get dressed (casual, of course) and then move to your workspace and fire up your work & communications tools before "resumption time".
Whether you’re going to the office or working from home, proper preparation is one way to be productive at work.
7. Track your goals:
You play your role in helping the company achieve its very ambitious goals by smashing little goals on a daily basis.
When working from home, acing those little goals can be very daunting with the newly-found flexibility, little to no supervision, and many distractions that come with working from home. This is why goal-tracking is very important.
Tracking your goals helps you achieve them. It's that simple! One tool that can help in this regard is Objectives and Key Results (OKR)framework. Created by Andy Grove at Intel, OKRs are how you track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals.
Virtually everyone uses OKRs and you should too, especially at a time like this. Get more information about the tool here.