Working from home can be just as productive as working in an office; in fact, 65% of workers believe they are actually more productive.
However, it takes a lot of organization and discipline to ensure you’re staying on track, especially for ecommerce businesses where you may be limited in your ability to deal with stock, update your inventory, and ship orders.
The key to maintaining your productivity is ensuring you’re working efficiently at all times and not wasting time on repetitive tasks or distractions. With that thought in mind, here are some approaches to managing efficiency while working at home.
When you’re working from home it can be easy to end up working long hours if you get started as soon as you wake up, or the working day blurs into the evening. But longer hours don’t necessarily increase your productivity — you need to learn how to use your time more efficiently, and give yourself some time out to recharge.
Set work boundaries
If you’re struggling to get focused when working from home, it helps to take steps that clearly define your work from your home life. This includes basic steps such as getting dressed as normal and setting up a workspace that’s separate from your usual home life, ideally in a spare room, or at least away from the space you’d usually relax in.
Treating your working day the same as if you were in an office, with a clear start time, space, and certain boundaries will help you get in the right frame of mind to be productive.
While working from home will help you avoid some of the usual interruptions such as catching up with colleagues, there are a whole host of other distractions. It might be tempting to fit in a few extra chores while you’re at home, or spend more time preparing food and drinks, but these will significantly reduce your efficiency.
Prioritize your workload
Planning your time is key to working efficiently from home. You probably have long term plans, deadlines, and goals, but at the beginning of the week break down what you actually need to get done to meet them. Set up reminders in your calendar for meetings and deadlines so that you can plan your workload around these.
At the start of the day, write a to-do list with your daily tasks and actions that are part of larger projects. Prioritize your list so that you always get through the most important tasks, even if they aren’t the easiest ones.
Improve your business processes
You can be a pro at managing your time, but if you’re wasting your time on repetitive tasks or fixing the same problems again and again, you need to look at making your business more efficient. For ecommerce businesses, there are a number of ways in which you can streamline your operations, and automate processes.
Every business will have certain emails or communications that they have to send out repeatedly.
For order confirmation emails, dispatch information, refund processes, or customer inquiries, you can set up email templates and even automate them to send at the appropriate time. You can also set up automated email marketing campaigns, which can be planned ahead of time to tie in with sales and promotions.
Likewise, social media scheduling tools will also allow you to put together your content for weeks or months at a time, and ensure you are posting regularly without taking up too much of your time.
Inventory management and shipping
Working from home might mean that you have limited or no access to your warehouse and stock, which can make shipping orders difficult. It can also impact your ability to expand your product range if you can’t store inventory at your home.
A more efficient shipping method to consider while working from home is dropshipping; this fulfillment method allows you to sell a product without physically buying and storing the stock. Instead, when a customer places an order, you purchase the item from a third party who will ship it directly to your customer.
There are also a number of tools that will help with inventory management, product pricing and stock control, which will help you avoid small repetitive tasks that can easily fill up your days.
Avoid wasting time with better communications
Working from home can have an impact on your communication with colleagues and customers, which needs to be addressed to ensure that you’re still working efficiently.
Dealing with questions, concerns, or complaints from your customers can be a massive time drain. One way to make sure you’re staying efficient is to take note of the questions that keep coming up and set aside some time to update your frequently asked questions. This will help reassure your customers, and reduce the time you have to spend responding to them.
This also applies to other parts of your website, if there are certain issues with the same products, then take a look at updating the product descriptions or images and try to answer common questions before they’re asked.
Customer service software
Using a helpdesk tool or CRM software will also enable you to gather data on your customers, to keep all their records in one place making it easier to deal with any issues, and enable better communication with them in the future.
Stay in touch
Keeping in close contact with your colleagues, employees, or suppliers while working from home will also make sure everyone is working more efficiently. Set up regular meetings or catch-ups so that everyone is clear about what they should be doing, and you can easily assign tasks and keep up to date with progress.
Working from home gives you the perfect opportunity to optimize your work processes and ensure you and your business are running as efficiently as possible. From automating processes, to reducing time spent procrastinating, learning to be more efficient will help your business not just while you’re working from home, it will also set you up for long term growth.