During the past ten years or so, remote working has become much more of a reality for many of us. Certainly, technology has made many of our businesses portable with a phone, laptop or tablet and Wifi or internet. The current COVID-19 lockdown measures have meant that many companies have had to make a fast and reactive transfer to remote working, whether they like it or not.
For most of us, it is a massive adjustment to start to work almost entirely online and from home, and we aren’t all tech geniuses but IT and technology can be a lifeline during this period when our working patterns have dramatically shifted, so read on to find out my top tips for maintaining productivity and working together while working from home.
Create a dedicated workspace
Try to create a small area at home that is an assigned space for work. This will not only help you stay in the right mindset but will also generate a clearer separation between your work and home life.
You won’t always get as much done at home – but you might get lots done. One great tip I heard of this week was to have a WEB list:
W – what you want to achieve
E – what you expect to achieve, and
B – what you had Better achieve that day
This helps prioritise our day and set realistic objectives.
When you are done for the day, pack away your work things or leave your work area until you get back to it next day.
Get the best from technology
Ask for help with IT
From your IT department and from colleagues. Wherever possible try to use equipment provided by work – but if there’s no alternative most conference software can also be used on mobiles and tablets. Use online training to guide you to learn new skills – Microsoft and other companies that provide remote working software have good, free videos available to use.
Keep up the formal and social flow of communications
Working from home or remotely can be very challenging and isolating. Sometimes our attention wanders, or we simply miss being with people. It’s really important that structured and unstructured connections with work and colleagues carry on whilst we are working remotely or flexible.
If you are a manager, discuss with your teams how you’d like to run supervision, check-ins, and sign offs remotely. Let people know how and when to contact you and try not to go outside those lines until you’ve got a routine established.
Keep communication timely and valuable, and make sure everyone on the team is on the same page regarding availability.
Make your own daily routine
You know how you get your best work done. Now that you’re not in the office, you will have to adapt your routine.
You may need you stick to your usual productivity times depending on your organisation’s core hours or when you need to be available for colleagues or customers. However, it may be that working remotely getting up and working earlier works better for you, with a longer break during the day. Or, you may prefer to work later into the evening. In any case, remote working can be a great way to maximise your own personal productivity without the constraints of office hours.
Give yourself a break
Working from home with no distractions can make it harder to remember to switch off and take breaks. The many distractions in a busy office can give you the relief you need in between working towards your deadlines so, plan breaks into your day.
Try and get outside and get some natural light if you can do so safely, and try some exercise, again within guidelines on social contact. If you can, a change of scenery and stretch of the legs can do wonders for your afternoon happiness levels.
If you are home-schooling or looking after children while trying to work, have a conversation with work about those realities. Try and set up a routine whereby you have separate times for working and for helping with school time. Dividing your attention may leave both things suffering and being there for children offering undivided attention at these uncertain times is very important.
Welcome the benefits of remote working
Although it may be the first time for many to work from home, and this can be overwhelming at first, the benefits of working at home rather than in an office are unquestionable.
There are many things that make your work-life balance more manageable: you may find it easier to fit in an exercise break in the middle of the day, you won’t need to spend your evenings doing household tasks, and you can spend more time with your family.
There are also advantages for your productivity with fewer distractions from colleagues and precious time and money saved on long morning and afternoon drives to work.
Devoting some of our lockdown time to self-education also makes perfect sense. Oakwood is continuing to deliver CIPD and ILM programme online so, as well as helping to boost your career during this economic uncertainty, you can gain your qualifications, learn new skills and give you a sense of control that will help cope with anxiety generated by the pandemic.
The potential benefits of online working can mean great things for the environment, your career, your wallet, your health, and your work productivity.
We hope these Working From Home tips have helped, and if you want to study for a course while you’re stuck inside, Oakwood are now running online CIPD, CMI, and ILM courses for those who want to improve their HR or management skills.