Following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the various measures announced by government, many law firms are making arrangements for their lawyers to work from home. Given the technological advances made in recent years, it is now possible to work from home with the same, if not arguably higher productivity levels. In fact, studies have shown that when given the option of remote or flexible working conditions, employees feel a sense of empowerment, flexibility and practice more effective time management which leads to greater levels of production and concentration. For the employers, this translates to employees actually working longer hours with fewer interruptions.
As with all new routines, working from home can take some getting used to. For this reason, I would like to share the following 5 tips which I have personally found to be extremely useful in terms of maintaining discipline and increasing productivity:
1) Wake up on time
This may go without saying, however it is incredibly important to wake up on time for work, even if you are working from home. If you normally go to the office at 9 a.m., set your alarm for 8:00, give yourself time to wake up and “get ready” for work. Have your coffee, take your shower, walk your dog and give yourself time to mentally prepare for the day ahead.
2) Establish a routine
If your morning routine on workdays is to visit a gym, do some yoga, or drop of your kids at school, carry on doing so as if you were going into the office. Then be “at work” on time to start your day. Some people will find it easier to enter “work mode” psychologically if they get dressed up for work and feel more professional, while others may want to enjoy the perks of working in more comfortable attire. Whichever works for you, make sure you establish a “heading to work” routine.
3) Designated work space
Do not make the mistake of trying to work from your laptop whilst lying casually in bed. If you have a home office, use this as your workspace. If not, you may prefer to set up your laptop on the dining or kitchen table. In any case, make sure you “arrive” to your designated workspace on time and that you stay there for the duration of your work day. Check your emails, draft your documents and make your calls from this space. This also makes clear to others in your household that you are actually working, rather than lounging at home and will lead to fewer interruptions from them.
4) Check in with co-workers regularly
It is important to keep in touch with your co-workers, especially if you are working from home. This makes you feel like you are all “at work” and part of a team which in turn make you more productive. It also shows your team and superiors that you are present. Exchanging emails or just general banter can work wonders on our mood and makes working from home feel less like an isolating experience.
5) Take breaks as necessary
While it is most productive to sit at your “desk” for the duration of the day, do not forget to take a lunch break, make a coffee or even just take a 10 minute break between emails and drafting. The most challenging part for lawyers working from home will be to remember to “leave the office” when the day is done. A lawyer’s work is never done, so prioritise your tasks and stick to your daily schedule. Enjoy the flexibility working from home provides, while maintaining your sense of discipline and work ethic.