by Dan Purvis
Adjusting to the new normal in the current climate caused by COVID-19 is a challenge for us all. Huge swathes of the workforce are now working from home and still required to work in effective teams…and as normally as possible…whatever that now means! For many, this is the norm, for others they’ve worked from home on occasion so have a routine in place, but for some this is a brand-new experience. Remote working successfully can be achieved with the right systems and mindsets, so let’s follow on from my last article with a look at how we can work successfully from home, even in these strange and testing time.
As well as many people are now in the position of having to work from home and many are being furloughed, there are others who may have lost some of their livelihood due to the closure of shops, restaurants, and other businesses. Whole industries have ground to a halt, especially those that served – or depended on – travel and tourism.
Of course, there are always opportunities in every situation. For example, eCommerce is on the up as people are now at home a lot more and cannot buy from regular stores, so it is understandable why more businesses are taking this route.
Living without a full income can be extremely trying, which is why the more ingenious amongst us are looking at new revenue streams from taking their bricks and mortar stores online, whilst remaining in line with government guidelines of using the post offices, to monetizing online programs and courses.
Successfully working from home takes discipline, planning, and real commitment. Many people may relish the opportunity, but it is also understandable if you don’t. Here we’re looking more closely at how to set up for success and make the most of this unusual situation for the benefit of your business or career.
Routine and good habits
It might sound boring and the last thing you need to hear in a time of crisis, but routine can be absolutely key to managing working from home. It can also be key to keeping your mental health in check and ensuring you’re able to effectively keep up with your work. It’s not just about the health of your marketing strategy or your database!
Stick to a regular morning routine
Getting up, getting dressed, washed and brushing your teeth should be a standard beginning to every workday. Keeping this regular routine is key to good mental health and beyond this, it ensures you’re ready if there are meetings to attend and you can’t afford to not be attending if the rest of the office is!
Exercise for your body and mind
Whether you join in with the kids and the new sensation of Joe Wicks or take advantage of your chance to have one run around the block or a short cycle, a bit of exercise goes a long way. Replace what would have been your daily commute with a bit of exercise to ensure you’re awake and ready for the working day.
Check in and be kind
Our mental health is bound to take a bit of a kick when we’re all inside and unable to follow our usual routines. Be sure to spend time checking in with friends, colleagues and others and be ready to listen and help if someone isn’t all right. Kindness is key to making it through this difficult period and understanding that other people’s reactions may be different to yours is important too.
Set aside workspace
Although not every home has room for a dedicated office, it is essential you have space set aside for when you work. Whether it means shutting the bedroom door or taking over the guest room, you need a space away from the family so you can focus on work. You can be sure there will be plenty of BBC Dad moments over the next few weeks, but you can’t afford for there to be too many. (But just smile and laugh when it does happen…we’re only human!)
You might dedicate a small part of your day to LinkedIn engagements and other social media but don’t get dragged in. As soon as you click on one of these sites you can be sure there will be plenty of recommendation of self-improvement webinars you simply must watch or books you should be reading.
Do everything at your own pace and once the workday is done, do things your own way. Whether this is downtime in front of the TV, your short daily walk, a little meditation (the Headspace app is particularly helpful) or even a nap, do something that works for you and helps you keep a level head in these difficult times.
Keeping productive at home is one of the biggest challenges. A productive workday involves following the steps already mentioned but also taking advantage of the tools and software out there to help make your working day easier. The most effective way people are staying productive and checking in with work is through video calls and conferencing.
While we’re not in the same world as a few months ago, poor conference call practices were shown to cost businesses billions by LoopUp and now we’re even more reliant upon them, it’s important to get to grips with the latest methods for keeping on top of work and being connected to your team.
FaceTime and Skype have regularly been used for conference calling for many years, with Google Hangouts also proving popular. However, it has been Zoom which has become the standout tool of the current situation. Zoom has floated a little below the radar for many years, although it has been successfully growing at a speed quicker than we may have imagined.
FT.com reported Zoom shares jumping 6% on the day that Wall Street saw a 3% tumble overall and the company continues to go from strength to strength as it is being used for everything from family reunions to international conferencing between employees around the globe. The key to Zoom’s success and growth seems to fall into three key areas:
Customer-driven experiences are at the heart of all they do
It’s a self-selling product
Investing large amounts in the company is something they are more than committed to doing
Zoom makes it easier than ever before to quickly team up with any number of individuals from your workplace and have regular check-ins to ensure things are going in the right direction.
A word on phishing
While all of us are working from home and are pretty convinced connections are secure, it is important to be vigilant about the risks from IT security. New phishing scams relating to the COVID19 outbreak are being discovered every day and unscrupulous individuals are bound to continue to try and exploit the crisis. Keeping your connection as secure as possible may involve looking into more secure firewall products or liaising with your company’s IT department to ensure everything is secure as it can be. Extra vigilance is essential for ensuring online safety as you work.
Internet speeds to improve
UK broadband caps have been lifted so no one should have issues with managing the volume of data/downloads required for your work. However, internet speeds have been put under a huge amount of stress.
Enrique Blanco, CTO at Telefonica in Spain told sources: “In just two days we grew all the traffic we had planned for 2020”; ad statistics are showing similar in many countries, with the demand for the internet outstripping he availability. Ookla reported the average time it took to download videos, emails and files increased due to broadband speeds declining as much as 5% from previous weeks.
Measures are being put in place to improve things and there are individual changes we can make to ensure our speeds are as fast as they can be. It may take a little patience on our parts but with so many changes upon us, it is something else we will soon get to grips with.
Making a success of your work from home time
Working from home may not be something you’d ever choose to do or even done before, but there aren’t any other options right now. With a little discipline and a lot of kindness, we can work together to ensure our workplaces can still exist, just from afar. There’s the opportunity to add a bit of morale-boosting fun through Zoom calls and it’s important to make sure you check in on colleagues, as they should check in on you.