If you’re still new to it, working from home permanently is going to be a whole new challenge.
By now, most of us are more than familiar with the idea of working remotely.
Some of us have really taken to it, enjoying the feeling of rolling out of bed late and working in our private studies. Others, however, have found it difficult to be as productive in their rented bedrooms as they are in the office surrounded by their colleagues.
Unfortunately for the latter, it looks like many companies are considering remote working as a permanent solution. Tech giants were the first to promote this idea, but now companies all over the world are looking to save money on office space and keep their team separated as part of their long-term business plan.
Whether you’re a manager looking for a way to guide your team through this transition or a new starter facing the prospect of never meeting your colleagues face to face, here are a few ways you can make the most of permanent home working.
The right gear = the right idea
Today’s modern offices rely on workers having more than a basic computer, desk and whatever chair was lying around when they started.
There are significant issues of tools, comfort and productivity that need to be addressed before you can work from home to the best of your abilities and ensure this is a profitable move for your business.
Ingenuity and creativity are important — but the great artist is nothing without their canvas or paintbrush.
Whatever you do, you need the right tools to help you do it. Workers who are being forced into permanent remote working situations should feel comfortable asking for the kind of equipment they need to do their jobs properly.
It’s much harder to manage comfort and performance at home than it is in the office. What if team members are having work done next door? They might need noise-cancelling headphones to block it out. Particular back issues causing trouble? Invest (or ask your manager to) in ergonomic chairs designed for long sustained periods sitting down.
More of an Apple person than a PC expert? Your company should be happy to provide you with your preference, provided it doesn’t break the bank (don’t worry bosses, there are plenty of affordable places to pick up a used MacBook Pro).
Then there are the digital tools to think about. If remote working throughout the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s digital tools are the glue holding forced-remote businesses together. Communication platforms, video chat services and project management tools — they’re all essential investments that should be a crucial part of going permanent.
Whether it’s picking up a MacBook Pro used or making sure everyone in the team has the right kind of headphones to block out noisy neighbours — equipment is the first step to a remote working business that succeeds.
Have a safety-first mindset
Working from home is much more challenging than afternoon pyjamas and extended lunches suggest.
While so much of the argument against remote working focuses on a perceived lack of productivity (queue another episode of d blaring in the background) the greater concern is actually one of safety. If you and your business aren’t taking employee safety seriously then remote working is never going to be a realistic possibility.
There are two sides to remote working safety, but let’s start with the hot topic issue: mental health.
If you’ve never done it before and you’re the kind of person that thrives in a bustling environment, remote working can be a draining experience. There’s no one to bounce ideas off, share the coffee-making experience with and generally make today feel different from the last. Businesses and workers don’t need to just keep an eye on the negative effects of home working, but be proactive in finding solutions. Mental health apps such as Headspace are excellent investments for a business looking to make remote working a safer, more enjoyable experience.
On the flip side, internet safety and security is a pressing issue for first-time remote workers.
The physical security of company equipment is important, but criminals are much more sophisticated these days. Just look at how quickly fake Zoom emails became a thing as everyone started using the video app for their meetings. You and your team members need to take a crash-course in internet security and make sure you’re getting the basics right — such as the use of VPNs and secure cloud-based systems.
By now you’ve probably read a million guides on how to work remotely successfully.
How do you stop staring at your phone every five minutes? How do you politely tell that annoying housemate they need to be quieter? How do you find a way to stop snacking and start typing?!
All valid questions, but the real key to making remote working a success for you is to find a schedule that solves your unique needs and preferences.
Take out a notebook and take account of everything throughout a day that stops you doing your job properly. Finding it hard to really get into the rhythm of working without a manager peering over your shoulder? Maybe you can try ‘eating the frog’ and front-loading your day with the hardest tasks. So many little things can help you get in that working frame of mind — from re-creating your original desk set up to wearing shoes!
Be smart and find a schedule that uniquely works for you. Remember this is not a temporary solution — you’re staring out that spare-bedroom office window for the foreseeable now.
If you’re still new to it, working from home permanently is going to be a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like what we imagined when we applied for that city office job or sat eating lunch with our colleagues — but for many, this is the new normal. Follow these simple steps and realise what works for you to make the experience as comfortable, productive and positive as possible.