Since the World Health Organization announced the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been altered. The world is adjusting to the effects of the Coronavirus and here in Australia we have strict government directions to stay at home which has resulted in our daily behaviors drastically changing.
Although our self-isolation appears to be keeping the virus casualties at bay, it’s likely to be some time before life returns to normal. You can check current information on COVID-19 on the Department of Health website. During this unusual and unsettling time, many people are now working remotely, which means working anywhere other than your usual place of work - a cafe, the library, or a shared space.
Currently, due to social distancing rules, it’s likely that working remotely means at your own home. Businesses and individuals have needed agility to implement this quickly, so some are more ready than others. Working remotely can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s a new concept for you. It can take planning and self-discipline but the experience can be exciting and empowering.
Benefits of Working Remotely
While there can be some upheaval initially, working remotely has some great benefits...
Improved Productivity & Work/Life Balance
Working from home means no travel time, chat time with colleagues is reduced and there is the possibility to focus in a quiet environment now you’re not surrounded by colleagues and ringing phones. As long as you use your time productively, you may find you work less hours, leaving you with more energy and time that is your own.
Expenses of operating a large office space may be reduced, such as utilities, stationery and equipment. Fewer costs to individual workers may also be apparent, in travel, car parking and eating out.
During a crisis, our Australian culture shows the support and dedication of people. Our attitude is that “we’re all in this together” and that can result in closer, more understanding relationships with team members.
Time to Innovate
As most businesses have had no choice but to operate differently, this time is a good opportunity to assess your way of working and explore innovative ideas to improve your business.
How to Make Working Remotely Work Well
Are you already working remotely? How is it going so far? Are you searching for some ideas to ensure working remotely is effective and stress free? It’s important you are set up to be productive. There are the practical considerations of working remotely - computers, telephones, new software requirements for video meetings or other communication platforms. Business owners need to consider security and privacy when their staff are working remotely, and may have to implement new processes.
Consideration needs to be given to customers and clients, to be able to offer consistent service, without contact. To ensure your clients and customers are only minimally impacted, keep them well informed of any changes to how you’re operating and update your website accordingly. The website design service experts at Web Force 5 have created Continuum, which integrates everything in one platform, so you can keep on top of your business and manage client communication wherever you are.
Here are some things to assist you to work remotely.
Set Up a Work Space
Create a space for you to work. Not all homes have a dedicated office, but ideally work in an area separate from your living space. Even a corner, set up especially for your work is a better option than the kitchen table surrounded by the kids having their breakfast. It will be easier to keep distance between work and home lives and help you disconnect at the end of the day. It will also benefit other household members as it will be clear when you’re in your work space and not be disturbed.
Set up your space ergonomically, with the correct equipment - an adjustable chair, your desk and computer at the correct height. Working on the couch with your laptop will not do your body any favors.
Ensure you have the equipment and software you need, including a strong internet connection. Do a couple of practice runs with your technology to nut out any issues so you don’t get caught during the real thing.
To keep your company fluid in these uncertain times, keeping your website up to date is imperative so you’ll appreciate an easy to use CMS and so may your clients.
Consider a headset if you’re on the phone a lot, noise cancelling headphones if you have trouble concentrating in a noisy household, a screen sharing tool or software to track tasks.
Know the Rules
Discussions about the basics such as working hours need to occur early on - are you expected to work 9 to 5 or can your hours be flexible? Will there be regular meetings with the team? Will you be working from a schedule? If you have children at home and need to contribute to their care, discuss the possibility of working evenings.
Building trust between employers and employees is important as without physical visibility managers are unable to see what their staff are working on and employees may worry their boss can’t see all they’re busy doing. Discuss accountability with your manager, perhaps setting up a discussion thread for status updates so everyone knows where things are at. Perhaps begin the day with a quick hello and update on what you’ll be working on for the day - and to let people know you’re not still in bed.
Communication is so important when working remotely - your colleagues are no longer just at the next desk or down the hall. You’ll need new communication practices in place to keep in touch, brainstorm and ask questions. Keep lines of collaboration and communication open with your stakeholders and clients using clear and consistent communication via your website, email newsletter or phone calls.
Working remotely can get lonely, especially if you’re used to working in an office of rowdy colleagues. Along with task related communication, the chats you have with colleagues in the tea room or at the printer are important, offering a break from the grind. Discuss with your team the implementation of a system to keep some of the informal contact - just don’t let it get in the way of productivity.
Figure Out Your Working Style
If your day can be flexible, work when you’re most productive - are you an early riser and like to pump things out straight away, or do you work better later in the day?
Establish a routine, with boundaries, especially around logging off for the day. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of responding to emails and calls around the clock when you’re no longer leaving the technology in the office. If it helps, leave your phone in your work space when you’re taking a break or finishing the day, to stop the temptation of checking it during your personal time.
It may help to keep some of the familiar habits that you use in the workplace - a jug of water on your desk, similar stationery and dressing for work.
Distractions at home are everywhere, so set limits for yourself and the other members of your household. Explain to others what your working day needs to look like and when you will be available so everyone is clear and you can have a productive day. This can be tricky with children, but seeing you hard at work can instil in them a good work ethic and influence them positively.
Time for Self-Care
Working from home can lead to longer hours than usual, as you don’t leave it all behind at the end of the day. Set yourself some clear boundaries - being finished by a particular time, taking regular breaks and making time for exercise. If you need to attend a personal appointment or take the kids to ballet, flexibility is great if you can make up the time easily. Try not to use your lunch breaks to put a load of washing on or clean the bathroom - your focus will improve after some mind-clearing time away from your desk.
While working remotely can seem overwhelming, these tips will steer you in the right direction. Who knows, if the benefits are worth it this may be the beginning of a new way of working long term. Focus, enjoy it and most importantly, heed the precautions and stay healthy. Use the time to be innovative and improve your business by speaking with specialist consultants. For affordable CMS and management of your communications, get in touch with our team today.