The benefits of working remotely have always been plentiful – but given recent government advice this has suddenly become the norm for companies across the UK.
Fortunately, improvements in mobile technology, communication apps and flexible working will enable many companies to continue as seamlessly as possible, with limited disruptions to workflow.
For many professionals, remote working will be familiar territory. However, for those that are new to this sort of work style, or are currently having to work from home due to coronavirus, we’ve provided an insight into several tools you’ll need to ensure maximum productivity:
- Real-time communication apps
Applications such as Microsoft teams offer users the ability to instantly communicate with members of their work force. Communication in this regard encompasses more than simply direct messaging and telecommunications. Users can share important data, arrange multi-user video calls and the application offers a wide-ranging collaborative approach. The advantages of real-time communication applications are evident and, during a time like this, cannot be stressed enough to ensure efficiency whilst you are working remotely.
- Cloud computing
In recent years, cloud computing has become an essential component to use within a business. If you are not familiar with cloud computing tools, they essentially enable you to store and access your files, data and applications online. Of course, instant access to key information is hugely advantageous for professionals working remotely, with additional benefits including an increase in productivity, improved data security and flexible working. Office 365 and iCloud are just a few examples of this extremely convenient software. Of course, you should liaise with your IT department / company first as to what software they believe would best suit your business requirements.
- Video conferencing
With the need for social distancing now coming into full swing, video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Webex and Skype are more significant than ever before. Of course, the major benefit of video conferencing tools now is their ability to allow businesses to arrange interviews, meetings and conferences without the need to be in the same room as others. Utilising video conferencing tools will also have a significant impact on company expenditure as travel time and costs will be reduced to a minimum.
How to successfully work remotely
If you're not used to it, the idea of working from home for long periods of time can seem daunting and lonely. Below is our guide to getting the most out of this time and how to watch out for and resolve any pitfalls.
1. Be prepared!
- Ensure you have everything you need from the office to enable you to work as seamlessly as possible from home.
- Do a test run of your technology from home before committing to working from home full-time (if possible).
- Be up and ready as if you were going into the office. Getting out of your pyjamas and into day clothes will help you get into the working mentality.
- Have a clearly defined workspace in a distraction-free environment.
- Use your commuting time to do something proactive and efficient (stick a wash on or do your shredding).
2. Make your own community spirit.
- Arrange regular scheduled meetings but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.
- Arrange an internal forum or blog to discuss ideas, random issues and to have a chat with your team (we’ve been using Microsoft Teams here at Carrot for this).
- Listen to calming music or radio. Avoid having the TV on or listening predominantly to news channels.
- Get out and about on lunch breaks and before/after work. A change of scenery and fresh air will do the world of good. If you’re unable to leave your place of residence take regular breaks to stretch your legs, use your lunch break to improve upon or learn a hobby, and treat yourself after the ‘working day’ to your favourite TV show or a movie. If possible, open windows or balcony doors to let in fresh air.
- Set and respect boundaries. When the workday is over, go offline. Do not email, text, or call others who are on off-hours unless necessary; working from home does not mean working 24/7
3. Communication is key!
- Plan your calls to be as efficient as possible and to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Embrace all opportunities for interaction – we sometimes shy away from a really good conversation on the phone, but the couple of minutes taken to ask someone how their day is going or their plans for the weekend can make all the difference.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support – if you’re experiencing a problem and need to talk it out pick up the phone. Your managers, HR and IT are all there to help you during these periods.
Although many of us won’t be thrilled to be working from home for the next couple of weeks, it’s important to see the positives in these situations:
- You’ll have no commuting time or costs. This could mean more time to spend with your family or finishing work while it’s still daylight and therefore having the option to go for an evening walk or run.
- Although it may take a couple of days to settle into this way of working you may see an increase in your productivity as you’re less distracted by those around you.
- If employees are able to show they can effectively and feasibly work from home, remote working may become a permanent option which employers offer their staff post-pandemic.