Working from home or working remotely is something many of us do on a daily basis now, thanks to how the business world has developed into an online-heavy environment.
Having the luxury of working from the comfort of our own homes is something many of us enjoy, but do we all know how to get the very best from our out of office efforts?
This guide aims to help you discover just how to do that. The developments of coronavirus have lead to even more of us having to work from home, so if this is something that’s new to you, you’ll want to understand how to give yourself a helping hand.
Employees working from home
Working from home opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves, but how are your employees finding their new found freedom from the office. With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, home working has given some employers the flexibility they need to continue their business operations while prioritising staff and customer health and wellbeing as part of their public health responsibility.
We take look at how you can get the best out of your employees while they are working from home and what resources they need to carry out their daily tasks.
Make sure your internet connection is reliable
Having a strong internet connection is essential for working from home. You’ll be spending a lot lot of time in front of a computer screen, so it’s a good idea to make sure you won’t be met with a buffering signal every time you attempt to load something up. Opt for fibre optic broadband if it’s available in your area, as there’s no better solution in the current market.
Plan your day out before you get started
Pre-planning the tasks you’ll need to complete each day is a great way of staying ahead of your workload and avoiding distractions around your home that could hinder your productivity. Don’t just plan your working day judging by the amount of actual work you’ll need to do either, consider the amount of other things that’ll happen that may cause disruptions or breaks in your productive times.
Forbes writes, “For example, many people eat a small breakfast on their way to the office, but when at home, you may be tempted to have a bigger breakfast which may slow you down for your early morning meeting. Or you may normally get off at 5 pm, but the kids come home at 4 pm, so you may need a shorter lunch so you can get all of your work done”.
Become a great communicator
While working remotely, you’ll be heavily reliant on communication over the phone, on Skype, or via email for large amounts of time. This means your communication skills are a key aspect to look into developing further if you’re new to a working from home platform.
Remote working is best for people that can find unique ways of presenting ideas and taking on board instructions and tasks from a distance. It’s the perfect fit for those that can think a little out of the box when it comes to finding new ways of communicating with your boss and other colleagues.
Set the office hours that’ll work best for you
Be sure to set out your working schedule for yourself at the start of the week and have a rough guide of when you’ll take your breaks and allow yourself time to relax. You may want to focus this around when you know yourself that you’ll be most productive. If you’re usually a more efficient worker later on in the afternoon for example, set your break to come earlier in the day, allowing you to maximise your productivity period.
You will still be expected to do your contracted working hours, so ensure that you’re covering that basis. Though, perhaps you can start a little later or earlier depending on your job role. It’s a good idea to ask your boss/manager about this before making any final decisions on the matter yourself.
Know when to log off
It is important you don’t drown yourself in work whilst in a remote employment role, be careful and sure that you know when you should be switching off.
Remote Year expands further on this point by saying, “This can be one of the most challenging aspects for remote work beginners, as the world is becoming increasingly connected. Though you may receive emails and chat notifications at any hour (especially if you’re working in a different time zone than your co-workers), it’s important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night. The best part of working remotely is having the flexibility to work when you are most productive, so be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7”.
Be mentally prepared for a normal work day
Being in the right frame of mind while working from home can be of a huge advantage to you. Treating your desk and laptop like an office that you’ve got to get up and get ready to go to will likely make you treat your role more seriously and perform better overall.
Hub Spot had this to say about why having the right mind set is key to remote success, “The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there’s no reason that feeling should be lost when telecommuting. When working from home, do all the things you’d do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and wear nice clothes. Internet browsers like Google Chrome even allow you to set up multiple accounts with different toolbars on the top — for example, a toolbar for home and a separate toolbar for work”.
Across the UK there are now fears that many of us will have to work from home for at least a two-week period to stop the mass spreading of coronavirus. Some companies have already taken the stand to get their employees to work from home, such as Twitter for example.
Many businesses will likely follow suit in their own methods of dealing with coronavirus, especially if a huge corporation such as social media giant Twitter is setting the standard with their action plan.
The BBC have reported on the company’s decision, “In a blog post, the social media giant said it was mandatory for staff in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea to work remotely. The company also said it was “strongly encouraging” all of its 5,000 employees around the world to not come into work. It comes a day after the firm banned all non-essential business travel and events for its workers”.
The UK government has come up with an action plan to help with putting a stop to the spread of the virus.
The Guardian had this to say regarding the UK’s action plan, “The action plan envisages that the army could be called in to help if requested by civilian authorities. And it says that up to a fifth of the national workforce could be absent from work, schools could close and elderly people would be advised not to attend social gatherings. The measures would only be rolled out if the virus moved beyond the currently designated “contain” phase”.
Being forced to work from home is something we could realistically face in the coming future, so don’t be afraid to ask up front what sort of jobs you should be looking to complete and what kind of equipment you’ll need to use in order to do your daily tasks and objectives. Query your boss or team leader on the matter today if you’re unsure on any of this and make sure you have all the information you’ll need.
Seeking out remote work opportunities
More and more of us will now be seeking out remote working positions, which is the logical thing to do at a time like this. So you should take comfort in the fact that there are a lot of positions out there that currently offer either temporary remote or home working opportunities, or positions that allow you to stay at home on a permanent basis.
It could be a very long time before office spaces are widely reopened and even with that said, the ones that can will have to follow a strict set of rules and guidelines surrounding the distance that must be kept between each individual worker. Though, this does not necessarily mean new jobs aren’t appearing or becoming available with as much frequency as before.
Many businesses will now be forced to become more online-focused and incorporate more internet-based elements into how they produce their work, simply because of the amount of people that are stuck at home. The vast majority of us have constant access to the internet and we are searching for meaningful ways to fill our time, so naturally an online-heavy business could actually do really well during this time and even see a boost in its user-related figures and statistics.
Forbes claims that remote working is actually forging the future for how we’ll continue to work from here on out. They have said “COVID-19 struck fast and hard. And most of us had to hit the ground running to accommodate our attitudes and habits as we started working from home. Sharat Sharan, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of ON24 described it as a tsunami, “While we could see it coming, once it hit, the pandemic changed business overnight. And when a crisis like this happens, the pace of business is totally different. Weeks start to feel like months, and outcomes are impossible to predict.”
If this pandemic is truly changing the way we work and the speed of business, companies around the UK will have to work hard to find a way to adapt to those said changes. Sales and the like will need to shoot back up again at some point soon in order for businesses of all shapes and sizes to survive. These changes will take time and won’t all be easy to implement, but businesses will need to start putting themselves first sooner or later and owners will quite simply need an injection of funds to stay afloat
The new normal
Remote jobs are becoming increasingly normal for workers these days. While applying for jobs online you’ll likely see many advertisements that offer remote work as a standard practice. If your future work life is going to take place in your own home, then be sure to have all the equipment you need to succeed and plan your day to day life as best you can to maintain productivity
Update: Potential second wave – work from home policy
With a potential second wave of Coronavirus likely to be on the horizon for everyone, there are a few things employers can have prepared to combat the virus this time around. Instead of losing out on workers, funding, trading and more, you can be ready for what’s to come by making a few simple changes to your workplace. Though, for the employees, the main area of concern will be working from home, so let’s get it right this time around
If you’ve returned to work since the lockdown began in the UK, you’ll be well aware that things are working quite differently now. You’ll be following social distancing guidelines and maintaining you distance from others at all times, with minimal face-to-face contact, but if a second wave does eventually arrive, you’ll be back to working from home.
If you weren’t working from home the first time round and found yourself placed onto a furlough scheme, or the like, don’t expect this to happen again. There will most likely be very little funding left for those sorts of schemes and an added emphasis will surely be put on getting staff members to work from home in the future, if the virus is to make a fully fledged return. Of course, we aren’t actually over this initial period of Covid-19 thus far, but we’ve been making slow and steady progress.
The owners of a business
If you’re the owner of a business and you want to be prepared for the potential second wave of Coronavirus, you’ll want to start making your preparations right away. Here’s a few tips we’ve come up with to help get you through the process as quickly and effectively as possible:
- Create a working from home policy –
Get your staff ready for the reality of working from home and make it clear that they should expect to be dealing with the fact they won’t be coming in to work once again, in the not-so distant future.
By introducing a formal work from home policy into your company, there can be no further complications or lack of understanding from your staff members.
- Plan for lack of childcare –
Be prepared for the fact that some of your employees may not be able to access childcare as freely as they normally would be able to. This means they will not find it easy to be working from home.
Make a plan of action for this and attempt to help your workers in any way you can during this next period of lockdown time, if it does indeed arrive.
- Optimise your work programs –
If you’re going to be expecting your staff to work from home, using their own technology and IT equipment, at least optimise your systems and programs to run on all computers. The last thing your members of staff need to do at a time like this is shell out for a brand new, up to date laptop or computer. Help them out by making the programs they’ll be using easily accessible to all.