Our top working from home tips to increase productivity in small businesses

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, lots of us are working from home for the first time. Ben Stern, Product Manager at White Oak UK, offers his advice for how to work from home effectively. 


A Head of HR once introduced me to the 4Ds of inbox management. When you’re working from home, less face-to-face and more online meetings, email traffic has a tendency to go through the roof. 

  1. Dit 
    Act on it right now if you can 
  2. Delegate it 
    f there is someone on your team that can pick this up quicker or better – hand it off
  3. Diarise it
    If you need to action it and you can’t right now – stick it in your calendar
  4. Delete it
    If there is no action required and you’ve read it – stick it in the bin. 


Some of us are fortunate enough to have a level of autonomy over their day (or at least an illusion of it!). Others may have been looking forward to the point in the career where they are responsible for managing their own day – the master of their own destiny – but then reality hits:

What am I going to do today? 1 hour of LinkedIn, 2 hours of coronavirus headlines and a coffee break later, and you’ve made no progress.

Start your day by writing out a list of tasks and goals for your day.

  1. Prioritise the list:
    – What is most important to the business &/or customer?
    – Are you blocking a colleague from completing something because they are waiting for you to complete a task? 
  2. Start on the first task
  3. Finish it, cross it off, start on the next one. 
  4. Review at the end of the day to see how you’ve done versus these goals, and maybe finish the day by planning tomorrows list! 

Collaboration Tools

There are obviously loads of tools out there – depending on the size of your business you might have people responsible for identifying these tools for you – so it is always best to find out what technology is supported by your business. 

At White Oak UK, we use Office 365. And the tool of choice at the moment is Microsoft Teams. You can use it to collaborate around documents or a particular subject as well as for booking in video calls and meetings. 

One great function of Teams is the ability to set up a meeting and keep the notes and calls inside a channel itself to refer to. To do this:

  1. Go to Teams 
  2. Go to Calendar 
  3. Set the meeting up as you would in Outlook, or whatever calendar tool your organization uses
  4. Then select Channel 

In this example, I’ve created a dedicated channel within our team for a recurring daily meeting. This allows you to add any notes and actions in this channel, and then refer back to them in context of the next meeting for a progress report the next day: 

There are so many tools out there, that you could spend days and weeks trying to find the right one for you. Best to sit down as a team and understand what you need the tool to do and why.  

This will help you to select a tool that meets those needs – rather than whatever the shiniest and newest one in the market happens to be. 

Follow us on LinkedIn for more tips from our fantastic colleagues on how to be productive at this difficult time. 

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