Working from home has become a staple of the ‘new normal’. We offer some tips and guidance on how to stay motivated, avoid distractions, and keep to your schedule
Working from outside the office often means we’re alone, at home, or in a café. It means we aren’t very close to those we normally collaborate with – our teammates. With remote working here to stay, there are certain challenges to staying motivated.
As part of our working from home series, we’re taking a closer look at some of the ways that charity workers can stay on track.
Getting out of bed and dressing professionally might seem excessive if you aren’t going anywhere. But it is an important part of preparing for effective work.
When speaking to Forbes magazine, Dr Karen Pine, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, says: “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
In other words, when getting dressed in work clothes, charity staff can mentally ‘prepare’ for the work day ahead.
Most people have that one distraction that they can’t get enough of. Whether it’s a video game, app, online crossword, or website, digital distractions are hard to ignore.
Actively managing digital vices can help you stay focussed and motivated on the task at hand. Website blockers can help charity employees take control of their distractions.
Freedom is a website blocker that is downloadable on your computers. For those struggling to stay away, the website blocker syncs up with phones and other mobile devices. No cheating! Users simply add the sites they do not want to see and schedule when the sites do become available. A free trial is available for charities.
Staying motivated is challenging when working alone. Digital tools help teams to work effectively with their colleagues. Digital project management tools give visibility over what’s happening. Communication tools bridge distances. Some of the best digital tools so far are:
Free for charities, Trello offers a lot of functionality to manage projects. Projects are set up across ‘boards.’ To-do ‘cards’ are added to the boards, much like a sticky note. Each card is customisable, showing a workstream, deadline, responsibilities, and progress.
Monday’s project management platform offers a free trial. With more sophistication than Trello, Monday has a team scheduler which shows progress on a project and what team members are doing. Each task also includes a priority rating, which helps those working from home to see what should be done ahead of other things.
Available on The Charity Digital Exchange, Asana is a powerful project management tool. The platform takes projects from inception to close. Teams can set strategic goals, build Gantt charts, and monitor progress. For more advanced users, Asana integrates with Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Slack, Gmail, and many others.
Teams helps charity staff to keep in touch and collaborate. The digital communication tool lets teammates chat, video conference, and exchange files. To stay motivated, charity workers can share how they feel. The platform includes emojis for those needing to let it out.
Zoom’s easy-to-use video conferencing tool has been one of the most lauded platforms for working from home. To keep motivated at home, Zoom helps charity workers keep in touch with colleagues. The digital tool also has a mobile app, so charity workers don’t miss a beat even if they are doing errands. For charities, Zoom is available on the Charity Digital Exchange.
For goal-oriented charity workers, having a schedule and to-do list keeps up the sense of achievement. Digital calendars and lists help to break-up the day with different tasks. To keep yourself sharp, schedule in breaks from work.
Digital calendars are available for personal and work use. Google Calendars is free for charity workers. The digital calendar lets you have multiple coloured agenda items for different purposes. Social, work, and personal appointments can be colour coded. For work, digital calendars like Zoho Calendar work well. Zoho Calendar allows users to send meeting invitations and share calendars. The more forgetful colleagues can set up customised alerts.
Whether it’s the end of the day or the end of a project, reward yourself and reward your team. Despite the remote environment, charity digital leaders can host away days and online ice-breakers. Virtual events don’t have to be just for fundraising. Team leaders can host their own online quizzes, digital sporting events, and much more.
Working from home for a prolonged period of time wasn’t anticipated and for many it’s been difficult to adapt. Sharing mental health resources with team members can also help boost your team’s motivation and morale.