The Internet is awash with technical advice for remote working. From what collaboration tools to deploy such as Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Slack etc., to how to get better visibility on who’s accessing your network remotely and how to secure mobile devices.
While we’re here to advice you on the technology solutions to protect your business and boost productivity and collaboration, we thought we’d take a different tack with this blog post.
Many of the Cloud Business team work remotely on a regular basis and have learned the importance of adopting good behaviours to stay motivated, avoid distractions and produce excellent work. So this post shares our advice for embedding positive behaviours when working from home, which will help you be more productive and also avoid feelings of isolation (even when we’re all social distancing.)
A day in the life of a remote worker – best practice
1. Get up at a normal time
Don’t be tempted to stagger from bed to desk as you won’t be in the right frame of mind to get work done. Try to replicate your normal mornings by getting up at a similar time and going through the motions of going to work.
Of course, if you normally get up very early for a long commute you can enjoy a bit of a lie in; but get up at a sensible time and get moving around before sitting down at your desk. You could use your daily exercise allowance to go for a walk or cycle ride, so you feel like you’ve commuted to work.
2. Get dressed!
While you probably don’t need to put on a suit to work from home, avoid staying in your pyjamas all day. Again, it’s about putting yourself in the right mindset. If you’ve spent years dressing professionally for the office, lounging around in trackies is unlikely to help you be productive.
Also, you’re likely to be using video conferencing a lot more than you have in the past, so make sure you look and feel presentable.
3. Have a specific place to work
It may be challenging, especially if you have children or a partner who’s also working from home, but try to designate a specific place to work. This will help you separate work from home life and vice versa.
Set some ground rules for other members of your household to minimise disturbances. With children, and with partners who want to chat, it can be useful to agree breaks during the day when they can speak to you: such as all having lunch together. Then you’re less likely to be interrupted at other times.
4. Turn phone notifications off
Only keep notifications on for the apps you use for work. You can snooze or mute notifications from specific WhatsApp and Facebook groups if you have some for work and others for friends and family. It may also be a good idea to disable notifications from work apps at times, especially as these are probably quite busy as everyone settles into this new way of working.
For example, Yammer is great for chatting to colleagues and sharing information. But if you’re receiving push notifications or emails every time someone posts in a group you’re a member of, you might want to change your notification settings so you don’t get overwhelmed.
5. Schedule breaks
Conversely, without colleagues to interrupt you and to chat to, you may find that the hours go by without any break from work. Your employer might think this is a good thing, but actually your productivity levels will have dropped. Regular breaks should be encouraged to allow you to re-energise and refocus.
Time management tools and simple calendars can be used to remind you to take a break, or you can use specific apps like Time Out (for Mac OS only) or Break Timer. You might also like to use Eye Care 20 20 20: which reminds you every 20 minutes to focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break from the screen.
6. Set a home time
It’s easy to allow work to cross over into personal time when you work from home, so aim to finish work at a specific time every day. A notification or alarm to remind you that now’s the time to start winding down is a good idea. Try to tidy up any loose ends so that you’re not tempted to continue working or even to return to work later in the evening. Switch off laptops and devices if you don’t need them for personal use, and physically leave your workspace.
7. Plan a virtual after-work drinks
When the novelty of working from home begins to wear off, you may find you feel quite isolated and lonely. It’s not surprising if you’re used to a busy office and enjoy spending time with your colleagues.
A virtual meet up for social reasons, not work, is a good way to stay in touch and give each other support during these very challenging times. You could initiate a virtual meeting to catch up on Teams or other video conferencing tools, or even go ‘out’ as a group.
In recent days lots of virtual events have sprung up such as Virtual Pub Quizzes, Virtual Choirs, Virtual Discos and more! Have a look on websites like Eventbrite, MeetUp or search through Facebook events to find something you can do together, or set up something yourself!
We hope that these ideas will help you become a pro at working from home over the next few weeks. If you need any further support (of the technical variety too), please get in touch.