We want to help you get the most out of your work from home setup and systems. If working remotely has become your new norm, use these tips to maximize productivity.
Before the pandemic, only around 7% of U.S. employees regularly worked from home. Today, around two-thirds of Americans are working remotely due to COVID-19. Over time, you may have gotten your work from home flow down. Or maybe you still feel like you’re treading water and have no idea when it will end. With remote work looking more permanent, we want to help you embrace the benefits of working from home and help you make the most of your setup, routines, systems and work relationships. Let’s get started.
Routines & Rituals
Home should be a place where you can rest and relax. But how can that actually happen now that it needs to be a place where you need to be productive? Routines and rituals. Being the smart woman that you are, you already probably know a thing or two about the power of routine. Setting a rhythm for yourself keeps you from constantly iterating your day and frees up energy for the focus you need for work. Write out your ideal routine and consider implementing these habits.
- Bedtime Routine - A good morning starts with a good night. Incorporate a bedtime routine that will actually relax you. Try going screen free an hour before you hit the hay. Instead of TV, consider reading a book, journaling or do some relaxing stretches on your yoga mat with your essential oil diffuser helping to set the mood. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Morning Routine - Just like bedtime, aim to start your day around the same time every day. Even on weekends. Consider drinking a large glass of water before you eagerly greet your coffee maker. Hydration will kick start your metabolism and help you “wake up”. Then move your body for at least 30 minutes. This could be gentle yoga or an efficient high intensity workout. It’s a great stress buster and will help you to feel accomplished at the start of your day. Don’t forget to fuel up with a nutritious breakfast. Finally, get dressed for work. You don’t need to go all Oliva Pope, but try to avoid sweatshirts and yoga pants. It will get you in the right frame of mind.
- Workday Startup Ritual - Create a workday startup ritual to get you ready to conquer your day. It could be as simple as doing three things to get started.
1) Turn on your favorite playlist
2) Open your planner or online task management system and review your open tasks and identify the top three tasks or projects you need to work on. (This is great to do even before checking your email so you dictate priorities, not your inbox.)
3) Check your email
- Workday Shutdown Ritual - Similarly to your startup ritual, pick three things to help you mentally shutdown from work.
1) Open up your planner or task management system and check off what you’ve completed and what will need to get done tomorrow
2) Read one educational article or check your LinkedIn to respond to messages or catch up on your network
3) Turn off your computer. That’s right. Turn it off. It will give you the mental cue you need to transition to relaxation.
You don’t have to have a fancy home office to create a warm and inviting workspace. Find a space in your home where you can have some privacy. This comes in handy when you need to take calls or need to focus on completing your tasks. This might be a well-lit corner of your bedroom or a low-traffic area of your home (where kids, a spouse, or roommate won’t distract you during an important video call). Here’s what you should keep in mind when creating your at-home workspace.
- Natural lighting – Find a spot with lots of natural light or a pretty view. Sunlight influences mood. Consider adopting a plant baby. A little greenery goes a long way to help you feel calm and relaxed.
- Seating - Don’t skimp on a comfortable chair. Make sure your chair provides proper support so you can avoid back pain and be less tempted to roam around simply because you’re uncomfortable.
- Adjustable desk – An adjustable desk that gives you the ability to stand while working is an excellent option to keep those creative juices (and circulation) flowing. According to a study, women who sat for more than seven hours a day and did no physical activity were three times more likely to show depressive symptoms than women who sat for less than four hours a day and did some physical activity. So stand when you can!
- Water Bottle - It’s no secret that dehydration causes fatigue. As a working woman, you don’t have time for that. Consider investing in a beautifully designed stainless steel water tumbler, preferably one with a straw. It’s something pretty on your desk and a beautiful reminder to drink more water.
Communication & Productivity Tools
By now, you’ve probably had your fair share of exposure to all the types of tools and programs you can use to keep your business going strong. But in case you’re still searching or want to explore other options that might better for your workflow and bottom-line, consider these options:
For Video Conferencing
- Zoom. Zoom offers small businesses a free version to keep your teams connected. While the free version limits group calls to a maximum duration of 40 minutes, you can have unlimited 1:1 meetings. You'll also enjoy features like call recording and screen sharing. Zoom is accessible via desktop or mobile app.
- Skype. With call recording, file sharing, screen sharing and built-in chat functions, Skype is a great tool to get started fast. Your team can easily connect via group calls with no time limits. Another great feature? Skype has a built-in background blur function to keep the focus on you, not your basket of laundry. Skype is accessible via desktop or mobile app.
- Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts offers comprehensive video conferencing capabilities. At no cost, your team can be up and on video in a matter of minutes, and all it takes is a Google account. Google Hangouts is accessible via desktop and mobile app
- WhatsApp. Need secure messaging? WhatsApp has a wide range of message encryption features, along with videoconferencing, document sharing and more. You can also send voice memos as a reply to quickly resolve issues - especially if both hands aren’t free to text.
- Slack. Slack offers a free version that could be a great solution if your business has multiple projects with specific team members engaged with each. Slack lets users create "channels" so that messaging is specific to that channel. No more sifting through threads of emails to figure out where things left off. The free version also allows for 1:1 videoconferencing and file sharing within your channels.
- Signal. If your business demands a more secure messaging app, consider Signal. This is a platform used by the likes of journalists to communicate with sources using the highest encryption capabilities. The platform offers options for group chats, video calls, file sharing and voice memos. The only drawback for Signal is it’s only a mobile app and offers no desktop version.
- Trello. Trello makes it easy to track assignments and keep track of progress in a highly visual, easy-to-read interface. If your business has never used project management software before COVID-19, Trello can quickly get you organized and keep everyone literally on the same page.
- Basecamp Business. With the power to create multiple individual projects for several clients or business segments, Basecamp is designed to help a single business track productivity across multiple projects from a single dashboard.
- Box, Dropbox Business and Google Drive. Easy and secure file-sharing is a must these days. Box, Dropbox and Google Drive all offer ways to share files with multiple team members without overwhelming an email inbox with crazy large files. Google Drive offers free storage for up to 15 MB of documents. Box offers 100 MB of storage and a 14-day free trial, and Dropbox offers up to 5 TB of storage and a 30-day free trial before you have to choose a paid plan.
- DocuSign and HelloSign. Need customer signatures? Online signature services can get documents out to your customers quickly and securely. Both DocuSign and HelloSign offer free 30-day trials before you have to commit to a paid plan.
- Notarize.com. If your business needs official documents, an online notary service can help you keep things moving. Notarize.com will connect you with one of their many notaries via video chat to verify your identity documents and then email you a copy of your fully notarized documents. At $25 per document, the price may be a bit higher than a visit to your bank, but it may be more convenient and safer to do so.
This collection of tools and tips was derived from this article written by E. Napolitano on Forbes. Check out the full article for additional resources.
Social Distancing Doesn’t Have to Mean Social Isolation
Now more than ever it is important to stay connected with your team and like-minded peers. While catching up with someone for coffee or meeting up for lunch may not be safe (or an option), carry that intention over into a digital setting. Have a virtual coffee date with a friend, a member of your team or new LinkedIn connection. Join in on live learning opportunities. WISE periodically hosts a no-cost lunch and learn called Power Hour. It’s a time and space for like-minded women to get together and learn about ways to experience a richer work and personal life. Connection fosters growth and growth takes you and your business to the next level.
Above all of these tips and tools, give yourself and others grace. As countless memes and quotables on the internet remind us: You are not just “working from home” - you are “at home, during a crisis, trying to work.” While what’s going on in the world is serious and sobering, you can still approach your work with joy and make the most of it with routines and rituals that keep you sane.
 Zojceska, Anja. Covid-19 and Work from Home Stats: Is remote work here to stay? Retrieved from TalentLyft, August 2020.
 Van Uffelen JG, van Gellecum YR, Burton NW, Peeters G, Heesch KC, Brown WJ. Sitting-time, physical activity, and depressive symptoms in mid-aged women. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45(3):276-281. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.04.009