Virtual Data Room Blog

Working from home: how to be more efficient

23-Apr-2020 13:35:40 / by Francisco Lorca

Aftermath of COVID-19: 15 tips from people who work remotely successfully.

You can be way more productive when you are working from home than when working from the office. Keep your focus and have a daily routine are key to success. But of course, what is most difficult about working from home is having a routine and keep focus while working when you are alone.

We have come up with some tips than can help work from home. With multiple offices in different regions, working remotely is not new for us and a number of our colleagues have been doing this on selected days for some time now.

Here are our 15 tips to work from home more efficiently:



1. Start your day early and pretend like you are going into the office

Get up early, jump into the shower, have a good breakfast and instead of commuting use that free time to do some morning-workouts. The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive. Start your day being productive will help you to focus when you take on your to-do list.



2. Choose a dedicated work space

Just because you're not working at an office doesn't mean you can't, well, have an office. Find a good spot in your house where you can set up your home office with a good table, chair, enough space and If possible good natural lighting.

Try to avoid any spaces you usually use when you are home to relax. This is a good opportunity to give that sad corner in your living room a new life.



3. Structure your day like you would in the office

Have a clear list of projects you are going to be working on, how much time you are going to invest on the day and keep up to date your to-do list. When working from home, you are your own personal manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out.

To stay on schedule, segment what you'll do and when over the course of the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks.

Tip: Plan out what you'll be working on ahead of time. It's important to let your agenda change if you need it to, but it's equally as important to commit to an agenda. Try solidifying your schedule the day before.



4. Commit to doing more

Projects always take longer than you initially think they will. For that reason, you will frequently get done less than you set out to do. So, just as you are encouraged to overestimate how much time you will spent doing one thing, you should also overestimate how many things you will do during the day. Even if you come up short of your goal, you will still come out of that day with a solid list of tasks filed under 'complete.'



5. Work when you are most productive

Nobody sprints through their work from morning to evening -- your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. When you're working from home, however, it's more important to know when those ebbs and flows will take place and plan your schedule around it.

To capitalize on your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you'll be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.

Tip: If you're struggling to come up with a reasonable work schedule for yourself as a telecommuter, start with the solitary tasks in the morning. Save phone calls, meetings, and other collaborative work for when you've officially "woken up."



6. Avoid distractions

When working from home it really can be hard to focus and more over keep your working day focus and productive. Try to avoid TV or social media, instead go and have a cup of tea or coffee, have a quick chat with one of your colleagues, stretch for 5 minutes, stand-up and go for walk (even if it is up and down your corridor).



7. Take clear breaks

It can be so easy to get distracted as a telecommuter that you avoid breaks altogether. Don't let the guilt of working in the building you sleep in prevent you from taking five to relax. Rather than just opening YouTube and watching some comfort clips, however, use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house.



8. Talk to your team

Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term but always make sure you talk and communicate how things are going with your managers and the rest of the team.

Tip: try to have video calls. Your message will have a bigger impact if you match your words with your facial expression. Also, some discussions can be more tense so better to avoid any miscommunication when you only use chat.



9. Pick up a definitive finishing time each day

You might be under the impression that working from home establishes more work-life balance but be careful with that assumption. 

Don’t overwork just because you think you have more time. Set up your daily to-do list and agenda, stick to that and shut down your computer when you are done for the day. Set up an alarm if that helps you. Even if you are working from home you still need to balance your professional and personal time.



10. Match your music to the task ahead

Putting some music on can be a good way to isolate yourself and focus. Depending on the task or the project you are working on the music you have in the background can really help you strive.



11. Try to stay healthy

Now that you have more time and you can avoid the not-a-single-space trains in your morning commute try to cook your meals, don’t do too much snacking and exercise more.

It is also very important to stretch during the time from time to time, you can do this when you are on a break. Because you are working from home you might move less so go up and down the stairs.



12. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you

Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs respect your space during work hours titanic task when you have a toddler. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you are home.


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13. Talk to someone everyday but not about work

We all have a chat with our colleagues when going for a coffee or during a break. Even if you are working from home do the same. Do a Slack call, use WhatsApp or even Zoom but keep in touch with your team.

Tip: Squeeze social time into your meetings.



14. Make sure you have a good internet connection

This one might be obvious but just make sure you have a reliable internet connection and all the equipment you may need to work from home.

Working from home doesn’t mean just using a laptop with a super small screen. As mentioned in #2 set up your office at home.


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15. Learn how to clearly and effectively over-communicate

This is the foundation of working remotely – you work in a team and to success the teams need to work at a same level. Moreover, when you are working asynchronously across who knows how many time zones, you can’t afford to have excessive back-and-forth. Here are some basic rules we follow:

a) Use clear and specific language. Minimize the use of vague words like “it, that, or he/she.” Maybe the context is enough to clarify what you are referring to, but maybe not. Rather than saying, “He needs to update the document” instead try, “James needs to update the-best-ever-data-room proposal.”

b) Give a little more information than you think is necessary. You don’t have to write a novel for every status update but err on the side of giving too much information and the worst-case scenario is the reader spends a few extra seconds reading, rather than wasting an entire day missing critical information or going back and forth trying to explain the initial instructions.

c) Be transparent when you communicate. Put everything out there. Regularly over-communicate using a good centralized tool. Everyone wins this way: Someone from another time zone working different hours than you are more likely to have the relevant information and you are less likely to be contacted when you are not working. Win-win.

d) Always communicate with positive intent and assume others are too. Don’t read between the lines or try to glean some deeper meaning. We’re all on the same team here, so start with the positive approach.

Also, always communicate assuming the other person might not know what you are talking about. Instead of saying “Hey, we need to change this” instead try, “Hi Mary, you free now? We need to change the presentation for Q2”.

e) Don’t use acronyms. I know everyone loves saving those keystrokes, but acronyms are actually really confusing. They require specific knowledge about something and require equal cultural exposure. It’s hard but keep it to a minimum. This falls under communicating clearly, but still worthy of its own point.


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Take this opportunity and do the things you always wanted to do and never had the time. Watch the top 100 greatest films of all time or start learning something new. Take care of your body, mind and soul.

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Topics: M&A, Dataroom tips, due diligence, virtual data room, VDR, dataroom, virtual data room comparison, data room setup