6 min read

12 Hacks to Optimize Efficiency While Working From Home

Sep 30, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Working from home has been a challenge for many professionals this year. Many are adjusting to this new, virtually-connected reality for the first time, while others such as working parents have become newly minted homeschool teachers on top of adapting to the new work norm. The changes to everyday life needed to keep our families and communities safe can make it hard to maintain the norm, let alone improve productivity.

In this article, we share helpful tips from accomplished project managers based in Silicon Valley that will make you smile under your mask and consider why this troublesome time may actually be the perfect opportunity to let your leadership skills shine through. These project managers have worked across a variety of industries and shared their best practices and insights that they have gained during these challenging times. These insights will enhance your day-to-day efficiency to allow for a work-life balance. Plus, it will provide ideas for enriching engagement with co-workers and stakeholders.

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Useful Productivity Hacks

  • Be Consistent in Your Routines: Designate a wake-up time and continue a pre-pandemic morning routine as if you were going to the office. This sends signals to the brain to transition to a more professional mindset. Dress comfortably, and keep a buttoned-up polo or blouse handy to be camera ready when necessary. 
  • Create a Designated Workspace: This area should be closed off to others in the household to help increase focus and concentration. This provides non-verbal cues to others in the household, especially children, that it is work time. Leaving this makeshift workspace should feel like leaving the office. 
  • Ergonomics is Key: Ergonomics has been linked to increased productivity by OSHA. Make sure to have a proper chair, an ergonomic keyboard, and for those who do not mind standing, you can create a DIY standing desk with something as simple as an ironing board or those dense books you’ve been waiting to be read. 

Staying Engaged with Colleagues

  • Create Virtual Spaces: This is where casual conversation can occur with colleagues. Create a recurring meeting event inviting others to join in a virtual coffee break together. This can extend to a virtual water cooler channel in a messaging platform for fun and playful conversation. These social interactions are pivotal in fostering rapport and camaraderie amongst colleagues.
  • Schedule Game Time: The goal is to schedule a recurring virtual game session anytime during the week, especially Fridays, to help colleagues get to know each other better. Attendance is optional for whoever would want to participate. Classics such as Pictionary are available in an online format, such as Drawaria. Or test the team’s trivia knowledge with Kahoot or TriviaPlaza. These are easy to set up and great fun for all.
  • Sharing Appreciation Often: Acknowledging others with specific examples is a great way to build and establish trust in a team and help promote positive behaviors. Whenever we can praise others for good work or timely responsiveness, we unleash more potential and motivate others. Great leaders do this naturally; be sure to practice small, and work your way up!

Striking a Good Work-Life Balance

  • Taking a Walk to Feel Human: Since most days are spent indoors, simply stepping away from the computer and going on a light walk can be more beneficial than ever. Not only will this provide the daily allotment of Vitamin D, but it can also give you a chance to connect with nature and reduce stress levels.
  • Find Your Most Productive Time of Day and Plan the Day Around It: Some people are night owls, some are early birds, and some have kids who only allow work to be done at certain times - e.g., naptime. When possible, work with a manager to modify your workday to align with your most productive hours of the day.
  • Make Time for Self Care: Time to focus on yourself is important. Without taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. Now that commute time has been eliminated for most, utilize that time to revisit an old hobby, or find ways to continue the self-improvement journey. Schedule self-care time to ensure a good work-life balance.

Pro Tips for Getting Your Leadership Skills to Shine

  • Be Inspiring: This is not the time to micromanage. Instead, help enable team members to achieve success by being very clear and concise about expectations. Some may have noticed that their motivational levels have dipped due to their work from home situation. As a leader, find creative ways to motivate your team. Spend time with colleagues to understand their work from home arrangements and the support they may require. Assume everyone is doing the best they can which should help them feel trusted. 
  • Be Aware: Do not wait for issues to escalate or deadlines to pass. Be involved early, and have the insight to address impediments before they become a risk. Also, your involvement in meetings, big or small, is more critical than ever. This is not the time to push out nor delay meetings. Instead, prioritize attending them to be alert and responsive to your team's challenges. 
  • Be Innovative: This is the time to stretch the mind and reach for the most innovative ideas to offer money-saving opportunities for employers. Innovation can be as simple as creating a small twist in an idea to make it unique. Be proactive; start sharing ideas in areas where there are process deficiencies. You are only limited by your imagination. This is the time to shine.

It’s Never Too Late to Incorporate New Hacks

By now, everyone is falling into their new routines - aka the new normal. It is never too late to incorporate new hacks to optimize the workday. These tips should help increase efficiency, which will ultimately result in time saved. Make sure to be iterative in the approach so that little hacks can pay huge dividends down the road. 

How Nisum Can Help

Many organizations have found that Nisum gives them a competitive edge through Lean and Agile coaching. They are using Nisum to build change management systems that address key organizational challenges related to team efficiency and product centricity. Now, more than ever, we can help manage effective, remote work culture through our expertise with distributed teams to drive results. To learn more about us or our services, contact us.


Nisum has always been committed to serving our global and local communities, and right now, there is no greater crisis impacting the world than the COVID-19. Now, we are actively joining to fight by offering our services free of charge to organizations that have shifted focus to actively fight against this pandemic. Visit our COVID-19 Pro Bono Offer page for more information.

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Sharon Singam and Jashneel Narayan

Written by Sharon Singam and Jashneel Narayan

Sharon Singam and Jashneel Narayan are members of Nisum’s Business Agility division. Both were raised in the heart of Silicon Valley which exposed them to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Making their way through bootstrapping startups to enterprise-level companies, they have gained invaluable exposure to growth at different levels. They are also enterprise Agile coaches who have helped many organizations transform their processes to foster productivity. In these unprecedented times, they have further developed their Agile mindsets and are constantly adapting to new challenges.