Legal Professional Content | 3 min

How to be productive while working from home

April 21, 2020


By now, you’ve probably been working from home for a number of weeks. You’ve set up your desk (or dining table), installed the necessary software on your computer and established a process for staying in touch with colleagues and clients. Now that working from home has become the norm for law firms for at least the next few months, what strategies will you implement to remain productive?

Balancing work and home life is easier said than done, especially when you’re working at home. Now more than ever it’s important to stay on top of your workload. However, it’s also important to ensure the work you do on your matters doesn’t come at the expense of your home life. To help you at this uncertain time, we’ve created a collection of five productivity-boosting strategies you can implement while working from home.

1. Create good habits

Think about the things you did each day at the office - your habits. Did you arrive at work half an hour early? Did you make yourself a coffee or breakfast? Did you check in with colleagues? Your productivity levels can be easily impacted by your attitude to working from home. Although your working environment has been turned on its head over the last few weeks, if you want to make the most of this situation, treating your working day the same way you would in the office is key. Building (or continuing) good habits that give your day structure is an easy way to do this. For example, small things like starting work at the same time, having a dedicated lunch break away from your computer screen and regularly speaking with your colleagues can help you achieve this.

2. Time blocking

While it’s not uncommon to write a list of tasks to be completed on any given day or week, how often do you find yourself rolling tasks on that list over to the following day or week? Often this is because extra, unplanned tasks require your attention. An easy way to manage your time is with time blocking. This involves setting out blocks of time in your day for a particular task so you can maximise your productivity. For example, between 9:00 am and 9:30 am you may check and reply to e-mails then between 9:30 am and 11:00 am you work on a matter for Mrs Jones. Consider blocking a period time for those unplanned tasks of an afternoon too. If you’re serious about managing your time and achieving as much as you can during working hours, commit to entering your time blocks into your calendar to help with keeping yourself accountable.

3. Huddle

While you may already have several meetings and calls scheduled, there’s one meeting you and your team can’t afford to be without, particularly while working from home. Implementing a daily huddle is a great way to set expectations for the day with your team. How does it work? Set a time for your team to meet each day - consider making it a time that nobody will forget. For example, instead of 9:00 am or 9:30 am, consider a time like 9:07 am to encourage your team to remember the importance of this meeting. A huddle shouldn’t take any longer than 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your team. It’s a time to set expectations of what everyone is working on and what the priorities for the day are - it’s not the time to resolve and discuss issues at length.

A huddle works in three stages. Each person in the team should first state their most important task for the day - what is there priority? Then, each person in the team should state any roadblocks they’re encountering. For example, are they waiting on a client to return a document so they can complete a certain task? Lastly, each person has the opportunity to share any ‘last words’. This is the time to flag anything else of importance with your team. The huddle is an efficient way to have a daily meeting that doesn’t take up a lot of time.

While the daily huddle is usually conducted standing up to encourage efficiency, this may prove difficult while you’re working remotely. Consider conducting your daily huddle via a team audio or video call. This functionality is now available in LEAP thanks to a new integration with Microsoft Teams. Click here to find out more about the LEAP and Microsoft Teams integration.

4. Prioritise your health

Making your health a priority is key to being productive while working from home. Prioritising your health at home doesn’t need to be a mammoth task - consider mimicking the small, positive habits you had while working in the office. While in the office, would you step out for fresh air in your break, or take a short walk to buy lunch? Consider doing the same while working from home. Even if you’re not buying lunch, take a small walk around the neighbourhood to reset, collect your thoughts and accumulate a few steps. This a great way to separate tasks and ensure you remain focused throughout the day.

Consider implementing these small, positive health habits while working from home:

Take regular breaks between tasks to maintain your focus.

Stay physically active throughout the working day - take short walks, stretch or consider setting up a standing-desk at your kitchen bench or similar. If you often make or receive audio calls, consider taking these while walking around the house, backyard or neighbourhood.

Remain hydrated - keep a bottle of water on your desk and drink from it often. Dehydration can easily cause a loss of focus, poor concentration and headaches.

Eat well - working from home means your pantry and fridge have never been closer. With this in mind, now is the time to be mindful about your food choices. Consider taking your lunch breaks away from your screen so you can focus on your meals and enjoy them.

5. Communicate with your team

It’s easy to become socially isolated when you’re working from home. While your physical health is a priority, it’s just as important to focus on your mental health while you’re away from the office. In the office, it’s easy to bounce ideas off colleagues as you work through your matters. Doing so often helps to relieve any stress you may experience when faced with a hurdle or complication in a matter. This process shouldn’t be any different while you’re working from home. Stay in touch with your colleagues on a regular basis - whether you’re checking in with them about the tasks they’re working on or just saying hello. Consider scheduling a virtual coffee catch-up or similar with colleagues or your entire team to maintain your existing lines of communication. LEAP’s integration with Microsoft Teams makes this easy to do with in-built group messaging as well as group audio and video calling features. Microsoft Teams is part of the Office 365 suite of tools you likely already use, meaning no extra cost is required to access this feature.

Working from home doesn’t need to come at the expense of productivity. By consciously implementing some of these strategies, you’ll be able to power through your work and enjoy the comforts of home with greater efficiency.

If you require assistance with LEAP while working from home, click here to view our range of support options.

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