These are unprecedented times. Conferences and events are moving online, e-meets and work from home are becoming the new norm. Telecommuting or work from home (WFH) is not new for some whereas some of us would be dealing with it for the first time.
Although the concept of WFH is not new to SearchUnify, this is the first time when we have asked our entire workforce to work from home. After all, the safety and wellbeing of our employees matter the most to us. It’s been over a week since we all started working remotely and so far it has been seamless. I have listed down a few practices that have contributed to our remote-working success; and might come in handy for readers out there to fix any teething troubles.
1. Establish A Productive Workspace
With so many distractions and temptations around at home, it’s difficult to stay focused.
Self-discipline is the key and to get started, setting up a conducive workspace is of utmost importance. Irrespective of a sprawling home office or nook in your kitchen, you should carve out a space that is solely dedicated to official work.
Ideally, choose a space without a refrigerator or bed to tempt you away. Ensure to turn it into a do not disturb zone. Having plain walls in the background is indeed a good idea to showcase your professionalism while participating in video conferences or client calls.
2. Keep Your Kids Engaged
For working parents, quarantine brings along extra challenges. With schools remaining shut and children by your side 24×7, it is vital to set boundaries in order to be productive at work. Preplan recreational and educational programs to keep your kids engaged for the most of your working hours. Also, try to wrap up most of the important assignments during their lunch hour, nap time or smartphone/tablet screen time.
3. Set A Schedule
To lead a healthy and stress-free life, it is of paramount importance to fix a schedule. A fixed schedule helps you to master the skill of organization. It also helps you to prioritize your to-do-list for the day. While prioritizing your projects, do not forget to include extra time slots for contingencies like unforeseen work calls or new priority tasks.
The key to sticking to a schedule is to refrain from multi-tasking. When you begin a task, continue it till the end; if it’s a lengthy one, then preplan the structure and decide how much you’ll finish in one go. Do not get pulled away by a new task, like responding to a new mail or discussing a new idea. Multi-tasking or frequent switching often kills productivity.
4. Master & Test Your Technology
A rapid transition to remote working amidst the outbreak of novel Coronavirus has safeguarded people from the infection, but has potentially exposed organizations to cyberattacks if timely precautions are not taken. And for that, being connected to a VPN via an encrypted connection and having your data backed up in real time or at regular intervals is as important as social distancing.
Since the internet would take over all the work-related things, ensure that your team has hands-on experience with the latest and the best technology. Make sure that your team is well-equipped with tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Slack, Stride, etc. To boost efficiency and team coordination, use project management tools like Asana, Trello, Proofhub, etc.
5. Communicate More Frequently
The key to WFH success lies in transparent and empathetic communications. When telecommuting, be cognizant of communication. Any transition takes time to get used to and it’s okay to acknowledge teething troubles. Moreover, over-communicating leads to clarity of purpose, focus and alignment.
For starters, managers should lay emphasis on sharing more information than usual. They should lead by example and maximize understanding within the team by over-communicating. Also, they should have a one-on-one constructive feedback session and check-ins with team members because there’s no dearth to learning.
Secondly, update your presence status on your organization’s prime channel of communication. It helps others to see your availability. Choosing the appropriate status is of utmost importance in order to work flawlessly without being swamped with multiple tasks.
6. Maintain Work-Life Balance
Working from home can turn out to be fatiguing if you fail to maintain a balance between your personal and professional life. Do not make things hard for your business by slacking off at work doing personal chores.
Similarly, once your working time is over and you are done with the assigned tasks, clear your workspace. Abstain from involving into any work-related chores until it’s an emergency. No phone calls or emails during your family time. Spare some time for physical exercises as release of endorphins is a silver lining in these anxious and unusual times.
7. Schedule Breaks
Consecutive hours of work without a break hamper your work efficiency. Thus, regular breaks are significant for mental balance. When in office, we can always stop by a colleague for chitchat or take a trip to the coffee machine whereas while working from home, we often forget to take breaks and end up being glued to our systems for consecutive 8-9 hours. Refrain from having your meals near the system and get up from your seat every 45-60 minutes for a bit of stretching or a loo break.
8. Have Faith In Your People
One of the most underrated elements of WFH is faith. The moment a team deploys for work from home, most managers start to micromanage be it consciously or subconsciously. Micromanagement often causes more harm than good. But, does that imply that we should leave our team members on their own? Well, of course not!
An effective leadership means walking a tightrope between giving too little and too much freedom to your team. Choose leading over managing. An agile leadership is a more effective way to lead than micromanaging. A few fundamentals of agile leadership are delegate tasks, learn to let go, conduct one-on-one meetings, become a better coach and be open to feedback.
Until life gets back to normal, stay in and stay safe. And let’s help someone in need. There are so many of them out there. The world needs kindness and empathy more than ever.