Whether your company has previously restricted working from home or you were never that keen to do it, the spread of Coronavirus has many companies temporarily rethinking their policies and requesting employees don’t come to the office. This is in a bid to stop any unnecessary spreading of the Covid-19, however, it’s leaving many at a loss and wondering just how to cope away from the rigid structure a workday provides. Working from home abolishes the need for dress code (unless you have a Skype meeting), negates a lengthy commute, avoids office distractions and lets you eat and drink anything you like from your kitchen cupboard throughout the day (both a blessing and a curse.) Companies of all sizes are moving towards this notion and once the initial excitement has worn off, you can be left wondering just how this shift in the workplace will affect you and your job. It can feel there is a lot of pressure and fear that your productivity levels and team building will not be the same. This is why we have put together some of our top tips for remote working that will leave you just as, if not more productive than when you head to the office…
- Ensure all resources or programs you need are saved to the cloud
There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to work on a project or task and realizing you don’t have access to everything you need. Prior to working from home, check you have access to any necessary documents, files, and programs you may need. It is worth saving items to the cloud or a hard drive and if you need access to programs such as Photoshop you have the necessary passwords and permissions. This will make the transition much easier and avoid any problems further down the line. Be sure to check with your manager or boss regarding data protection and GDPR if any of the documents contain sensitive information. You also need to check your internet connection at home and that it will be strong enough to keep you connected throughout the day. The last thing you want is the signal dropping halfway through an important Skype call!
- Stick to set hours
Hours wise, remote working tends to lean one way or another. Some revel in the newfound freedom and tend to start later and finish earlier, spending more time on a lunch break and rejoicing in the lack of commute and the fact there aren’t other workers there who can tell if they are late. Others set up, get stuck into their tasks and tend to work for much longer than they usually would. As there is no journey or others to set your time to, it’s all too easy to tell yourself you’ll just finish one more task or answer one more email. This is why it’s important to set your hours just as you would when going into the office and stick to them. It ensures the right balance is kept between getting your work done and also having the right work-life mix. Be sure to set time out for lunch and coffee breaks too, your productivity will dwindle if you’re sat in front of a screen all day and you need time to take care of yourself. By setting hours, your wellbeing is looked after and you won’t end up getting burnt out or reprimanded for not getting enough done.
- Stay connected
Many embrace the social element of being in an office, whereas remote working can leave you feeling isolated, and by the end of the day, a little stir crazy. This is why it’s important to stay connected to your work colleagues. Whether you keep in touch via Skype, Slack, Video Calling or actual phone calls, it will help keep you focused and connected to what is going on. Not sure how to initiate conversation? There are many icebreakers you can utilize for both those you know well and those you haven’t met. These ice breakers also ensure you can keep up with team building even when working remotely.
- Dress for Success
When you don’t have anyone enforcing a dress code, it can be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day, remembering to brush your hair around noon and generally letting your appearance slide in a way you’d never wish any of your colleagues to ever see. This is fine, but for many, the way they dress has a massive impact on their mentality for the day ahead. If you dress for success, you’re more likely to be focussed and tackle the day’s tasks, however if you stay in your comfortable clothes, your brain associates this with relaxing and is less productive. Our clothes are a visual reminder of our intentions to work and be professional and can play a large part in this. You will also need to dress smartly for any Skype or Video meetings you may have.
- Have a designated place to work, with no distractions
Remote working has a whole host of potential distractions waiting in every corner, so it’s important you find a space to work away from all of this. If you are lucky enough to have an office, great. If not and you need to work at your dining room table, be sure to keep the television off and the area quiet. If others are in the house, for example, if your children are off from school, make it clear you are here to work and they need to keep the noise down. Try and avoid getting bogged down by day-to-day necessities such as the washing and cleaning and remember you wouldn’t be able to do this were you in the office. It can be easy to think “I’m here, I might as well sort out the house duties” but time can soon fly by and it’s not a productive use of your time.
- Set clear expectations
Before working from home it’s important to sit with your boss and ensure expectations are managed. Tasks will change slightly and it’s important you find out what is the highest priority and how these will be executed from a different setting. For example, you need to establish how teams are going to communicate, whether you will have regular video conferences or phone calls and if any external chat services will be used. Team building will need to change as this is normally done face to face, so it’s important to figure a strategy of getting everyone working together while also working remotely. If these things are organized from the off, they’re less likely to cause issues further down the line where people don’t know what they’re meant to be doing.
- Remember to get outside
If you are sleeping at home and working from home, it can be easy to get stuck into a rut where you don’t leave the house – or not nearly as much as you should be. This is detrimental for both your mental and physical wellbeing and can lead to a decrease in productivity too. Try and get out a little bit each day, even just for a quick walk around the block. At a time when we have to put social distancing in the equation due to coronavirus, you don’t want to be going too far, or into too busy places, however, a quick walk is all you need. Even thirty minutes outside can clear your head, increase your fitness and improve your mental wellbeing.
- Enjoy it!
Remote working is a great way to get the best of both worlds. You get the freedom of working from home, while still enjoying the banter with your colleagues through means such as Skype. Advances in technology mean it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your work team and as remote work evolves, so does the opportunities and technology with it. You can still communicate and team builds remotely and there will only be more and more activities to engage with and enjoy as it continues to develop. So stay tuned!
- Ensure all resources or programs you need are saved to the cloud
These are just some of the ways to ensure you get the most out of remote working. There are a plethora of benefits to working from home and speculation is rife that the Coronavirus will influence the way we work and where we work from going forward. If you’re going to reap the benefits of no commute, flexibility, and freedom, it’s important to show you’re trustworthy and get the most out of your day.