Staying Productive While Working Remotely

Remote working is something we’d set our sights on right before the world started learning of COVID-19. For us and many others, the integration of increasingly flexible working arrangements is just one part of a much bigger picture.

We’re firm believers in the idea that the combined impact of globalization and digital transformation, paired with a new generation of consumers who want more freedom and say in their lives, will reshuffle the modern lifestyle as we know it.

It’s an inevitable movement towards more freedom, more flexibility, and more control over how we choose to live our day-to-day.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, for better or worse, we were one of the first countries in the world to experience full time remote working. The sudden mandatory arrangement was a surprise for us too, as it is now for many in other parts of the world – but through some initial trial and error, we were able to create a scenario that worked for each of us.

This week, as we join many in Europe and the United States in our second season of ‘forced’ work from home, we hope some of the things we learned during our first round comes in handy.

BLOCK YOUR DAY

This doesn’t mean replicating the exact day you’d have in the office. Working from home means spending the day in a completely different environment, with different priorities (especially for those with kids), and with a different schedule that makes sense for each person.

Maybe that means starting the work portion of your day earlier to accommodate a block for home schooling later in the afternoon. Maybe it means blocking a longer lunch break for quality family time and incorporating a later end-of-work time.

Whatever your personal blocks of time look like, the crux is to make sure that times for work, play, and life are kept distinct, both mentally and physically, to the extent that they can be.

KEEP WORK ORGANIZED

Remote working in the time of the Coronavirus for most of us means working solely from home. But remote working post-pandemic will mean that some days you’re home, others, you’ll be free to adopt cafes, airports, hotels, as your office.

But even now, when we’re limited in location, we found that keeping work tools and devices organized and separate from the rest of our everyday carry was helpful in keeping us more focused and acted as a mental starter to get us into the mindset of work / play.

For us, it was almost like the mental boost you get from dressing properly for your stay-at-home work day. A step that might seem trivial, but one that was more important than we thought for maintaining the different aspects of our lives while being confined to our homes. Especially in a city like Hong Kong where space is limited for most, keeping our work gear separate was a small hack that helped with productivity as well as mental clarity.

Organization is key; not just in terms of prioritizing the things we have to do, but keeping all the tools and devices you need to do it, neat and easy to keep track of.

CREATE A SET-UP THAT WORKS FOR YOU

At the end of the day, your home is still your home – not an office. Introducing work into an environment that usually acts as a refuge can be a harder adjustment than we assumed. Especially because for most of us, the work from home situation decreed on us by COVID-19 came pretty abruptly as a surprise.

Something we found that eased the transition was maintaining a clean workspace that was not just functional (a given), but pleasant to both be in and look at. One of the definite perks of not being stuck in an office is the freedom to design your workspace exactly how you want it.

So take some time to make your home set-up an inviting one, a space that works specifically for you. In this environment, sometimes even the little things can do just enough to make the days and possible weeks more bearable.

STAY CONNECTED WITH THE TEAM

One of the obvious draws of working from home is the lack of face time. Simply losing the time you’d spend talking to your team over a coffee or just sitting across your desks. Not all the time we usually have with our co-workers revolve around work, and it’s a major adjustment to cut this usual companionship out of our lives so suddenly.

Replicating and being able to prioritize this is one of the big luxuries technology has afforded us. Sure, it’ll probably take more effort initially to make a habit of it. But we think it’s crucial to maintaining a sense of normalcy, especially at a time when nothing seems normal at all.

The feeling of isolation that came from going to a 50-person office to almost complete separation is hard to avoid. Now more than ever, we can’t underestimate the value of communication and staying connected with the people that we spend the most time with day-to-day. Virtual meetings are inevitable, but virtual lunches, coffee breaks, birthday celebrations – what usually makes us feel connected to our team – are just as vital.

For us, the goal through all this is to introduce remote working in a way that prepares us better for flexible working arrangements post-pandemic. In a way, it’s a rare chance to experiment and explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to staying productive within a non-traditional work routine.

We’re hoping other brands and companies globally are also approaching this period of forced working from home in the same way. Because at the end of the day, this is the future of work in the modern age.

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