Work from home is not a new thing. But the coronavirus pandemic has stirred up the things and force everyone to practice working from home. In this article, we cover many strategies and practices for work remotely, and now we’re sharing everything with you.
Table of Contents
- Schedules & Routines
- Communication & Mental Health
- Tools & Proper Etiquette
- Work Environment
- Remote Cybersecurity
- Wrap Up
Work from home is not a new thing. Although most people knew about remote work, in fact, not many of them actually exercised this practice on a regular basis. According to statistics, before the Coronavirus pandemic, only 7% of American workers had a possibility to regularly work from home.
When the situation turned to the dark side and most businesses had to shift their work perspective, we learned we’re prepared ever worse than we thought. This, almost an overnight change, is taking a toll on people’s mental and physical health, which leads to low productivity and a lack of motivation.
Of course, there are other difficulties we need to overcome, and both employees and managers must find ways to cope with it and in some cases, to literally become remote workers overnight. In this spirit, we had a chat with some of the people who had to deal first-hand with this situation.
We learned about their strategies and practices and now we’re sharing everything with you.
Who doesn’t hate getting up in the morning? No one likes to leave their warm bed and get out in the cold air of the morning only to sit in traffic for at least one hour! This can be listed as one of the main reasons why people would rather work from home. You have time to drink your coffee before work, admire the view, walk the dog, and just chill. However, there’s a caveat to this blissful scenario.
If you’re used to a rigid schedule at work, you’re tempted to throw it all out the window. Why start working at 8 sharp in the morning? Or why the hell would you want to even leave your bed and comfy PJs?
But, according to Jenna Jackson (in charge of Marketing & Branding at Squadhelp), we need the routine. Here’s what she told us:
“Follow a routine. It's super easy to want to roll out of bed at 8:50 and work from your laptop in bed, but that is setting you up for an unproductive day. I get up, open my blinds, light a candle, make a cup of tea and get ready for the day. You don't have to totally dress up or anything, sometimes even just changing from one pair of pajamas to another can help get the ball rolling. :)”
It also helps to have a work schedule. In fact, many people who work from home find that the first half of the day is the most productive.
The secret is to experiment with your own routines and find a system that works for your needs.
Before the pandemic, we had the illusion of certainty. We would wake up, go to work, return, and enjoy some personal time. Then everything would repeat the following day, with slight alterations. Now, every system we know is crumbling down under the huge weight of uncertainty and wide access to media coverage. People are afraid for their health, their jobs, and their future. All these are to be expected, given that no one is 100% safe, but there are things employers and project managers can do to help.
For instance, in a recent survey, 72% of respondents said they would like to be reassured by their employers that they will not lose their jobs. While you may not be able to send such reassurances, it is important to maintain open and honest communication with your employees.
According to Maggie Deptuck, Global SVP at Replicon:
“Consider the real-time benefits of phone calls and video conferencing as well. Tone, body language, and facial expression are all key factors in getting information across effectively, and any way you can incorporate these natural, nonverbal gestures into your workday can positively impact your performance.”
To induce a sense of easement, create a page or chat group where everyone can ask questions and receive answers. Also, keep it up to date with the latest news and authority sources to avoid fake news.
You have to work from home for the foreseeable future. What tools and resources do you use? The average household is not equipped for office work and it doesn’t have the right type of network services to support the operations of a medium-sized business. Also, the right tools are different according to each person’s activity. Some people are lucky enough to still be able to use company resources like devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets), cloud storage space, email service, and more. Still, some services can’t be relocated or upgraded as easily. For instance, over 10 million work from home employees complained about poor cell signal coverage and Internet connectivity issues on a daily basis. This leads to low-productivity, frustration for everyone involved, and difficult communication.
Lisa Dooley, Organizing Coach at Your Organized Life shared one of the easiest ways to make the most of your existing tools:
“Clear your cookies and browsing history to speed up your processing time. Clean up your system so it runs optimally. Also, to keep your WiFi at critical speed, take anything offline you’re not using.”
The solution here would be an upgrade to a business plan (supported by the company) or a change of provider (where possible).
But, once you have the right tools, you also need to learn proper etiquette for remote workers. This means respecting company policies with regards to sharing files and information (you don’t tag the entire department for edits on a document that’s just for your project), videoconference behavior, accepted email reply time, and so on.
And a bit of useful advice from David Pipp from Living Low Key :
“If you're on a conference call, mute your mic unless you are talking. Too many times I sit on conference calls where someone leaves their microphone on with kids screaming in the background. That makes it hard for everyone to hear what's happening in the meeting. The same goes for video, be mindful of your surroundings and actions if you're on a video conference call.”
Another big problem is the lack of a dedicated workspace. Luckily, you don’t have to reorganize the house for this (although it may be appealing). Most of us only need a desk for the laptop or PC and enough room to store and use work-related documents without getting coffee or Play-Doh on them. Make sure you place this desk in a low-traffic area (away from stairs, hallways or the kitchen) and set out some rules for the entire family. Talk to them about staying away from your workspace and when it’s OK to bother you (emergency situations).
Simonas Steponaitis, Marketing Manager at Hosting Wiki told us about low-cost improvements you can make:
“Scientific research proves that adding plants to the workplace increases productivity and memory retention and also, decreases stress. It improves air quality by removing harmful pollutants and effectively absorbs noises which can be distracting and hurt your productivity.”
Yes, cybersecurity is no longer just a job for the IT guy(s)! Given the current situation, it’s a shared responsibility between the remote employees and employers. This involves getting more knowledgeable about things you can do at home to keep your work safe and things companies can do to provide a safe work environment.
For instance, the company can offer safe devices for people who work from home (laptops, smartphones, tablets and so on). These devices have all the needed software tools with the latest security updates and layered protection against various threats. Employers also need to provide secure remote connections with advanced encryption systems and a well-designed set of rules to follow when using said devices and connections.
On the other side, employees must make sure to use the received devices according to the established rules. It can be daunting and, at times, the extra security measures can seem like overkill. The threats are varied (phishing, scams, ransomware, malware, data breaches, and more) so the saying ”better safe than sorry” is extremely real in today’s world. For this, every person needs to understand the gravity of the situation and start building cybersecurity habits.
Working from home may become the norm in the following months, so it’s best to work on accommodating this new lifestyle. After all, it may end up being the positive change you needed in your life!