How can you maximise productivity when working from home?

Posting date: 22 April 2020

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home was often seen as something reserved for those in flexible roles, with highly supportive employers or situational circumstances that required it. Now, however, it is an enforced reality for many of us. Research varies on how many Swiss employees were working from home regularly before Coronavirus, with anywhere from 20% to 70% of the office-based workforce purporting to work remotely at least some of the time, but we know that flexible work conditions were in-demand even before the pandemic. In fact, a 2019 study found that 83% of people would choose a job that offered flexible working over a role that didn’t. But once faced with the reality of doing one’s job from the comfort of the living room or home office, how can we ensure that work is productive and tasks are completed to a high standard, without compromising work-life balance?

If you are in the position where you can work from home, you may be wondering how you can ensure you’re not only working effectively, but also sustaining a positive work-life balance. Here’s how you can do both:

Use the right tools

A 2018 Deloitte study revealed that just under half of employees are provided a laptop that would enable them to work remotely, with 53% using chat functions or instant messaging and only 36% proficient in video conferencing. This highlights how unprepared many workplaces may have been in the lead-up to the March lockdown enforcement. However, many people working from home have found adapting to new technologies and tools easier than anticipated, with an abundance of free and low-cost services available to make remote working easier.

If you’re setting up your home office, here’s what you should consider implementing:


  • Whatever device/s suit your role best. This can range from a simple laptop with strong internet connection to a full PC setup complete with multiple screens, a dedicated mobile phone and headset. In general, the faster and more powerful your technology, the faster you will be able to work and less frustrated you will be
  • Speedy, reliable, strong internet. For many, this is essential, particularly when it comes to video conferencing. If your wireless is unreliable, consider using your mobile data for important calls or conferences
  • Communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or whatever is industry- or company-preferred. Many conversations are taking place via video call, so a webcam (built into your device or purchased separately) can be advantageous
  • Cloud-based storage solutions. In the absence of dedicated office-based hard drives and systems, many organisations are turning to the cloud to store and share files and information quickly and effectively. Make sure the cloud system you use is compliant with your organisation’s security policies

Communicate clearly

The abundance of online communication tools means workplace communication should be easy, but for many of us, the absence of in-person conversations and team meetings can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnect. In fact, a 2019 study found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge by remote workers – and loneliness has been found to make us feel less motivated and productive than usual. 

Counteract this by setting clear intentions and expectations with your team, manager, colleagues and clients around communication. This might involve scheduling regular video calls to provide updates and brainstorm, establishing more informal chat times with co-workers or asking for a regular check-in with your manager at the start of the day.

While you’re communicating more, make a note to mute outside distractions as much as possible to avoid dips in productivity. Turn off social media notifications, avoid looking at non-work-related tasks outside of your dedicated breaks and hold off on chores and home tasks until you have a break in between work. Productivity is possible when working from home – 65% of workers say they’re more productive when working remotely, thanks to fewer interruptions and no commuter stress – but it takes a conscious effort to strike this balance right.

Separate work from home

When work is your home and home is your work, creating distance between the two settings – physically and mentally – can be incredibly difficult. Where possible, create a dedicated zone that you use only for work, which you disassemble (or cover up) at the end of each workday. This can be as simple as putting your laptop away or putting a cover over your screens each afternoon. Prepare for your day as if you were going to the office, creating a daily routine that includes getting up and showering, dressing for your work day and moving to your dedicated work zone. It’s easy to let work and home seep into one during this setting, but these measures can help to avoid that and ensure that when you’re working, you’re working well.

A clear structure and routine have been proven to help in times of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to mental wellbeing. This can look different to different people – for some it might be planning the week’s work schedule in advance and ticking off tasks each day, while for others it might involve starting every day with yoga, breaking for a snack at set times and having a regular social call with a friend. Find what works for you and your workload and stick with it.

Stay up to date with Swisslinx


Swisslinx continues to be business as usual (and we will be slowly repopulating the office in the coming weeks) with all teams available to assist clients and candidates. Stay tuned to our insights hub for more on how work is changing, or contact us to start a conversation on how we can work together.

How has Covid-19 impacted Dubai?

Around the world, countries have been impacted by and responded to Covid-19 in different ways. While Switzerland chose to rely heavily on testing and offered support to businesses, the United Arab Emirates implemented a travel ban, cut interest rates and rolled out a stimulus package. As a travel hub with many expat and temporary workers, Dubai has been presented with unique challenges during the pandemic. Now as individuals and businesses start to recover and now look to the future, what can we expect for the city, and how might the economy recover? Travel plans have changed Dubai came to a standstill in April as the UAE government imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world. Now, the emirate is opening the economy back up, and a significant part of this is travel. As one of the world’s most significant travel hubs, Dubai was heavily impacted by lockdown measures. It's a city reliant on tourism, hospitality and aviation, so the grounding of planes and imposition of strict travel restrictions have had a major effect on the economy. March’s complete halt of passenger flights has contributed to passenger travel through Dubai dropping by a fifth in the first quarter of 2020, though special repatriation flights still operated to ensure travellers and contract workers could return home. The transport and storage sector, which includes aviation, land, air and water transport, made up 18.5% of Dubai’s GDP in 2017 and was its most active economic driver in the first half of 2019, so such a significant halt could be detrimental to the wider economy. However, there is now good news for the aviation and hospitality sectors with the resumption of travel from to and from Dubai by July 7. Airports and national carriers are resuming large-scale operations whilst maintaining strict health and safety measures, which may help to accelerate the predicted economic recovery. We can therefore expect to see more opportunity for investment in the travel and tourism sector over the coming months. Staff consider their options While the UAE did roll out a stimulus package to help its economy in the midst of the pandemic, Dubai hasn’t seen the same level of support that other parts of the world has when it’s come to securing businesses. With no furlough scheme, some employers have been forced to reduce headcount and salaries to ensure survival during and after Covid-19. As the nation is made up largely of expats, many residents are making the decision to return home, and Oxford Economics estimates that the UAE could see 10% of residents leave its shores. However, with job losses and tanking economies an issue worldwide, those in stable industries may choose to stay on in Dubai rather than facing an uncertain future back home. Some nations in the GCC are actively looking to reduce expatriate worker numbers, with Kuwait and Oman looking to fill a higher percentage of key positions with national candidates. As international flights resume and restrictions ease, we anticipate there will be more employment opportunities within the UAE, particularly within the healthcare, distribution and logistics and technology industries. E-commerce is thriving throughout the pandemic, so specialist skillsets in this area will be highly sought after.  Oil and gas take a hit We know that the commodities market has taken a considerable hit in 2020, not just with Covid-19 but with the oil price wars as well. Supply has outweighed demand and we saw storage facilities reach maximum capacity, resulting in a record low oil price that created significant disruption throughout the global industry. However, the past two months have seen the market recover somewhat, and there are predictions that the second half of the year will see oil prices rise back to $50. As lockdowns continue to be lifted around the world and the mobilisation of people and supplies resumes, we hope this sector continues to strengthen and more job opportunities will emerge. Investment shows confidence There are clear signs of opportunity and optimism in the UAE already. One such sign of confidence is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company announcing a $20.7 billion energy infrastructure deal with global investors, operators and sovereign wealth and investment funds. It’s one of the largest global energy infrastructure transactions and is positive news for the UAE’s gas market – and indeed, clients and jobseekers. Emiratis are optimistic about an economic recovery, according to Mckinsey, and the relaxation of lockdown rules should speed this up. Dubai has maintained its position as among the top three destinations globally for greenfield foreign direct investment, thanks to its ease of doing business, location and security. This should help the city to recover economically, perhaps more quickly than other areas. Flexibility into the future Through this crisis we’ve seen many clients in Dubai and UAE implement remote working, reducing business travel as much as possible and placing projects on hold. We can expect to see some of this continue long into the future, particularly regarding employer flexibility, potentially creating more opportunities for workers who may not otherwise have been able to work full time in an office location. As 22% of UAE employers say working from home has increased their business’ productivity, many organisations may introduce new remote and flexible working policies to allow employees to work from home on a permanent or part time basis. Unnecessary business travel will likely be reduced or eliminated entirely, with a focus on working – and hiring – locally. That’s not to say there won’t be opportunities for global workers to take up lucrative contracts in the UAE, however. For the right candidate, opportunities will remain. Established in 2007, Swisslinx’s Dubai office is focused on banking and finance, oil and gas, and technology. We have a multilingual team of sector experts who are committed to matching the right candidates with the right roles, providing ongoing support before, during and after the recruitment process. View our latest UAE jobs or contact us to talk about how we can help you.

READ MORE

How have startups pivoted to respond to Covid-19?

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a raft of changes across industries, from home working and virtual business meetings through to social distancing and reorganisation. Beyond the day-to-day of how we’re working, we’ve also seen dramatic changes within some industries as to what we’re working on. One of the most interesting impacts of Covid-19 has been the response of businesses who are trying to not only survive, but also help in the face of a massive global pandemic. Restaurants have moved to online delivery models, fashion labels are manufacturing face masks and life science organisations worldwide are devoting their efforts entirely to finding a vaccine. This is easier for some than others – changing business models and production plans suit organisations that are agile and free from the restrictions that many established large-scale businesses have in place. With that in mind, we’re taking a look at how startups have pivoted in response to Covid-19. What does ‘pivot’ mean? Anyone who’s worked in technology – and particularly the startup world – will be familiar with the pivot. It’s the term given to a change in approach to test a new business model or product, usually after receiving feedback that the original approach is not effective. It’s common in the startup community where entrepreneurs typically follow a lean methodology where everything is questioned – even the purpose of the organisation. Famous organisations that have pivoted include Nintendo, whose previous products have included instant rice and vacuum cleaners, and Twitter, which was once a service called Odeo that allowed people to find and listen to podcasts. Which startups have pivoted as a response to Covid-19? The 2010s saw a huge amount of hype generated over 3D printing, yet the technology has so far seemed somewhat underutilised. Now, however, Covid-19 is presenting new demand for additive manufacturing, thanks largely to the stranglehold China has had on manufacturing personal protective equipment and other products that have been in short supply during the pandemic. When Chinese manufacturing came to a halt during lockdown, startups and other businesses stepped up to use 3D printing to fill the gap, with designs for face shields and medical equipment shared on open source platforms to allow anyone to create these much-needed products. The Middle East and North African market have seen 3D printing startups such as Eon Dental pivot to contribute to the Covid-19 battle, reconfiguring machines and temporarily changing their entire business models. Meanwhile, UAE commodities startup Immensa produces 10,000-12,000 face shields a day to export to Europe, the US and Middle East. Closer to home, Swiss-based fertility tracking organisation Ava Women is researching whether its fertility tracking device can be used to detect early signs of Covid-19. Another life sciences startup, Warsaw Genomics, has moved away from its genetic testing to now offer Covid-19 tests for distribution within Poland’s hospitals, while delivery network Gophr is now delivering pharma, bio-sample and test kids for health services companies. The fintech market is not exempt from virus-driven pivots. Examples include US neobank Moven selling its direct consumer offering to focus entirely on developing financial technology for other banks, and British credit rating startup Credit Kudos launching a tool that allows freelancers to verify their earnings to benefit from the British government’s financial support.  What does this mean for me? These pivots demonstrated the rapidly changing business landscape we are finding ourselves in, and the need for businesses and workers alike to take a flexible, agile approach to the marketplace. While experience in healthcare and life sciences is naturally in demand in the current climate, so too are digital and technology skills to help startups and other businesses pivot and digitalise their offering. If you’re in the market for a new role, we’d love to help. We have deep experience in our specialist markets and are paying close attention to the current market conditions. Contact us to start a conversation about your next steps.

READ MORE