- 20th April 2020
- Posted by: Mark Dodds
- Category: Business, Technology, Uncategorised
Whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic will prompt a more permanent shift to home working is open to debate, but a lot of our clients have indicated that they plan to use IT more instead of travelling to so many face-to-face meetings.
Back in 2018, over four million Brits were working from home, and it’s a figure that continues to rise.
If you’re working from home now, this might become a far more regular thing.
The BIG myth about working from home
It isn’t a productivity and happiness nirvana.
Anyone who has worked from home for any period of time will know that the realities are far more challenging.
Let’s consider some of the issues you’ll have to contend with:
- difficulty separating your work life from personal time;
- a less than optimal working space;
- the ever-present nature of your fridge;
- the dog;
- family members (you love them, but… just for five minutes…); and
- that flat pack coffee table you really should have constructed by now.
Thankfully, you can overcome all of the challenges above and work efficiently and productively from your new home office.
How to lead from home
If you’re a manager who’s used to being present in an office alongside your team, working from home can feel rather unnerving.
The good news? Thanks to technology and tried-and-tested remote working practices, managing your team from home can be much like doing so in the office.
Here’s a three-step process:
- Do it as a team. It’s vital you establish a remote leadership team which consists of all managers. Share your ideas about how to manage employees remotely, and the challenges you face on a daily basis, and find solutions – together. Set expectations for everyone and make sure you lead by example by embracing the digital workplace, such as Office 365.
- Create a communication plan. Whether you lean on a platform like Microsoft Teams or something more ubiquitous such as WhatsApp, you need a communication plan everyone sticks to. Working in silos via preferred comms channels won’t facilitate a cohesive team.
- Keep remote tools to a minimum. You probably need a project management system, office suite and one or two industry-specific platforms but keep your toolset to a minimum when working and managing from home. This will ensure people spend more time ‘doing’ than playing with new tools.
How to combat the most common home working challenges
At the start of this blog, we outlined a few common challenges people experience when working from home.
A study by Buffer illustrates these challenges. According to their research, loneliness, motivation, and a lack of collaboration are key problems for employees who frequently work remotely.
Here’s how to overcome them.
- Get dressed and into a normal routine. Although it might be tempting to get cracking while still in your dressing gown, getting dressed will make you feel far more work-like. The same goes for routine; make sure you have one, even if it doesn’t follow the normal 9-5 pattern.
- Separate your working space. Granted, this isn’t always easy depending on the size of your home and rooms available, but there are plenty of ways you can separate your home working environment – even if it involves erecting a temporary screen that divides the room in two.
- Reimagine your commute. That radio station or podcast you listen to during your commute is more important than you might think. It’s important to replicate those ‘normal’ daily working habits even if you don’t need to commute anywhere. Listen to the radio while setting yourself up for the day or replace the commute with a walk around the block (you’ll kill two birds with one stone here, as you’re about to find out).
- Get out, be active. Exercise is vital. If you can, get outside. Walk the dog; go for a run; play with the kids in the back garden. Regular exercise will rejuvenate not just your body, but your mind, also.
- Teach yourself that distractions are OK (to a point). You’ll read plenty of working from home blogs that tell you to “dispense with all distractions!”, but, in truth, distractions are pretty important. The trick is to use them as treats. When you finish that long report, grant yourself 10 minutes doing something else. When you get to the bottom of that tricky to-do list, grab your guitar for a bit. Distractions are OK in moderation. And yes, that includes emptying the dishwasher!
One of the best pieces of advice is to remain social and keep in touch with your team, colleagues, and, during your breaks, family and friends.
Final tip: the super-simple guide to effective remote meetings
Before we sign off, here are some quick-fire tips for holding effective remote meetings:
- use video, always – it helps big time in terms of interaction (plus will encourage you to get dressed);
- set an agenda as you normally would;
- experiment with shorter meetings that take place more often;
- have some fun (spot the difference on my background, bring your dog – that kind of thing);
- start by asking people how they’re getting on working remotely;
- make sure an audio dial-in exists for people with poor connections;
- encourage people to mute their mics while not speaking; and
- make sure someone is tasked with being the facilitator.
Need help getting the most from your remote working tech toolkit?
The team at Compex IT has a wealth of experience in this area and can help you. Just get in touch today.