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.

Using lockdown to your advantage

Home working was already popular in Switzerland in 2019, with 33.7% working from home at least occasionally. This number has of course dramatically increase in 2020, thanks largely to Covid-19. The black swan event was neither expected nor planned for by these employees and their businesses. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of resources which will help you make your lockdown space a productive one. More than two-thirds of office workers say they are more productive when they’re working from home. This ‘new normal’ is the perfect time to focus on where your career is heading, upskilling and even prepare yourself for the next career move. Using this advice, you can be sure that you’re using lockdown to your advantage: Project your career path It’s important to always have sight of which direction you want to steer your career in, yet studies show that people spend more time planning their holidays than they do their career. As our global workforce experiences a sizeable shake-up this is the perfect time to assess where your career is heading. In light of recent changes, new opportunities may have presented themselves or you might have reached a fork in your career path. To make a well-informed decision you must begin by writing down specific goals. For example, becoming the Chief Finance Officer of a multinational company with a gross revenue of £150 million is an extremely clear goal. The more precise that your target is the better it serves you when trying to make career decisions. To improve the effectiveness of your goals write them down - psychology professor, Dr Gail Matthew, shares that we are 42% more likely to achieve them when we do so. Learn a new language There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone an existing one and learning a new language could have more career benefits than you’d think. This is particularly true in multilingual Switzerland, where there are four official languages and regional dialects that can make business communication challenging at times. Take the opportunity to brush up on your German, French or Italian and you may see yourself with improved career prospects at the end of lockdown. An American study found that in just five years the number of job advertisements aimed at attracting bilinguists has more than doubled. Commit just 30 minutes each day and use free apps like DuoLingo to expand your vocabulary or enrol in virtual language courses from the Open University if you’re focused on becoming fluent. This free learning platform also offers courses in business, politics, health and more. Pick up the basics of coding If you’re not a natural linguist but want to learn a language there are several computer programming languages that you can choose from. Many websites, like CodeCademy, provide free tutorials for whichever language of code you want to learn and they help you do more than just add a skill to your CV. These resources strengthen your problem-solving abilities as you begin learning the basics of HTML and CSS, laying a solid foundation for programmes such as Python – which is great for beginners – and JavaScript. Get to grips with technology Understandably, the global recruitment landscape has been largely impacted by the imposed lockdown. Hiring managers can no longer meet candidates in person but must rely on technology to match the right candidate with the right job. Already, 53% of HR professionals reveal that they routinely use video interview and we expect this figure to soar throughout and beyond the lockdown as the recruitment industry notes the benefits of a virtual interview over a traditional interview. Get prepared and ahead of other job seekers by learning how you can make an impression on a video interview. It all starts with having the right technology set up so there any no glitches on the day. Alternatively, now could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of Microsoft Excel and pick up some new functionalities. AMT Training are offering a free Excel fundamentals course which will teach you Excel best practice and share top shortcuts to help you maximise your productivity. Alternatively, take a look at online training courses on LinkedIn, Udemy and Coursera, where you can do everything from learning business analytics skills to gaining a master’s degree in computer science. Digital networking We’re amidst the largest disruption to the global workforce but that doesn’t mean to say new job opportunities aren’t on the horizon. Many industries have adopted a business-as-usual stance – particularly Switzerland's pharmaceuticals industry - and others are concentrating on bouncing back from the impact that the outbreak has had on hiring efforts. Now is the time to brush up on your digital networking knowledge. With in-person interviews and large networking events off the cards for some time you need to focus your efforts on your digital presence. Begin by optimising your LinkedIn profile so that you’re visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Remember that networking is not always about gaining connections - use this time to reach out to old contacts. Start the job hunt with Swisslinx The lockdown is no reason to put your personal and career development on hold. You now have the resources and advice to help use this time to your advantage and even ready yourself for the next career move. Begin the search now – browse our latest opportunities in life sciences and financial services.

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How is Switzerland responding to Covid-19?

Covid-19 continues to have a stronghold over much of the world, creating uncertainty and change in many markets, not to mention economies and lives. The virus has impacted all of us in one way or another, yet the response to it varies from person to person, country to country. The government has categorised the Swiss situation as “extraordinary”, with a raft of measures put in place to contain the coronavirus as well as protect people, businesses and the nation. So how exactly are the Swiss handling it? An extraordinary situation with extraordinary measures Because of the “extraordinary situation” label given to Switzerland’s Covid-19, authorities have been able to take over specific powers from the nation’s cantons and impose measures to restrict conditions in the country. This is the first time these legal provisions have been applied in Switzerland, with new conditions including a ban on all private and public events, and the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural spaces, sporting facilities and schools. Business providing essential services – such as grocery and food stores, pharmacies, post offices and banks – remain open and serving the public.Recommendations and restrictions While stopping short of some of the stricter enforcement measures other countries are imposing on its people, Switzerland has issued very clear guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include a recommendation to all citizens to stay at home unless necessary, particularly those who are sick or aged 65 and older, as well as announcing a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people. Some individual cantons have taken this further, forbidding over-65-year-olds from leaving their homers outside of specific circumstances. Borders are closed and the message is clear: stay home and be sensible. Economic support Switzerland has been a world leader when it comes to supporting its businesses, announcing a CHF20 billion package of emergency loans to support small businesses on March 25 and disbursing more than CHF15 billion to just over 76,000 companies within the first week, prompting Bern to double the initial package. This will provide relief to companies with liquidity problems, allowing those hit by the crisis to defer payment of social insurance contributions temporarily. The measures also apply to the self-employed. The scheme has been viewed to be so successful in terms of efficiency and speed that Swiss banks and government have been liaising with European counterparts to share information on the scheme’s structure. In many cases, business loans have been granted and money made available within 24 hours of completing the simple online application, a level of efficiency that was been widely applauded by the business community. Like other nations in Europe and worldwide, Switzerland has responded to the economic implications of Covid-19 by offering support to companies whose employees are facing reduced hours due to a lack of work. Currently one quarter of Switzerland’s workers are on reduced hours (short-time working) in a bid for businesses to save costs without making redundancies. Employees are compensated 80% for the loss of income caused by this, with an unemployment insurance fund helping to cover the shortfall. More testing, earlier While the rate of cases in Switzerland is high, the nation is proving to be one of the world’s most successful countries in dealing with the pandemic’s later stages. Authorities started in February by testing people who had travelled from high risk areas or had come into contact with an infected person, but this approach intensified as the virus spread. The population is now being tested at a higher rate than any other country and potential cases are being tested earlier, with a strong focus on high-risk groups. This is a more comprehensive strategy than what is being seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.Public sentiment The vast majority of people in Switzerland are following the government measures, according to a Swiss Broadcasting Corporation survey, with the nation’s sense of civic responsibility ensuring people take the social isolation guidelines seriously. Just under 70% of survey respondents say they are optimistic that Swiss hospitals can cope with the number of patients, with 40% of respondents in favour of relaxing the Government-imposed restrictions. With these restrictions currently extended until April 26, time will tell what other developments will unfold this month and over the course of the year. Supporting our candidates and clients While it is too early to say how the coronavirus situation will impact recruitment in Switzerland long-term, we are already feeling some ripples. Contract workers have already been impacted by Switzerland’s closed borders, with some who were preparing to take up contracts in the country now shut out due to not having the required permits. This has led to more recruitment from within the Swiss market, with predictions that permits will be limited post-Covid-19 as a response to increased unemployment.  Swisslinx has been able to facilitate workers starting on a remote basis under the border closure situation changes, while the Swiss authorities are providing flexibility around the rules applicable to remote workers by allowing them to stay on CH contracts despite working abroad. Some of Swisslinx’s key clients have offered solutions to ensure workers are paid in full. These include encouraging flexibility for remote work, compensating part of the employer costs in cases of short-time working compensation, and honouring contracts and finding solutions to enable these. There has been a natural slowdown in recruitment activity in some markets while others are thriving, and the rise of virtual interview tools and techniques has helped to ensure candidates and companies can continue to be active in their search. Meanwhile, as workers around the country adopt to new working-from-home measures, we might see new ways of doing business emerge from this pandemic, bringing new meaning to flexible working. At Swisslinx, our team is hard at work to ensure our candidates and clients can continue to make contact and work together. For us, it’s business as usual – albeit from home – and we’re always looking to hear from anyone considering their next steps. Contact us here to start a conversation about how we can help.

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