Even before the current pandemic, more and more businesses were shifting towards a remote work system. Yet since the world was turned upside down, this has gone into overdrive. For many who were fortunate enough to still remain employed, they suddenly found themselves working from home.
At first, this could have been seen as a dream scenario for those who were tired of the daily commute to the office. However, remote work presents its own set of challenges, and it can be difficult for people to adjust to the changes.
If you’re struggling to find the right balance since becoming a remote worker, this guide is here to help. Below are the steps you should take to ensure your performance and morale both remain at a high level.
Have the right apps in place.
There are many, many different tools to collaborate online available. Settling on the best collaboration apps for your business is not an easy task, but they all have the overall aim: to make your life easier. As a result, you can’t really go wrong when picking your apps.
Of course, different tools have different functions. In general, you want apps that cover tasks such as the following:
- Communication (both text and video)
- File sharing
- Project management
- Design and software collaboration
- Time tracking
The more apps you have in place that take care of monotonous tasks and streamline your workflow, the more productive you – and your business – will ultimately be.
Create a designated workspace.
This step can be tricky, depending on the space you have at home. Ideally, you’ll want a spare room that you can transform into a home office. If this isn’t a viable option, try and find a space within your house that has a minimum amount of distractions. Not only can family members prove to be bothersome while you’re trying to get stuck into your work, but that nearby videogame console can also be alluring…
When setting up your workspace, a comfortable chair is a must. You’re going to be sat on your keister for about eight hours each day, so you want a seat that delivers both comfort and good lumbar support. To complete your makeshift office, you’ll require the likes of a desk, computer, phone, and stationery.
Invest in your hardware and software.
It’s true: in this digital world, you’ll likely have all of the hardware and software required to start your remote work journey. Nevertheless, a few small – yet significant – upgrades to your hardware, or the right online business tools, can have a significant positive impact on your work experience.
Here are a few aspects you should consider upgrading if needed:
Wi-Fi: A strong Wi-Fi setup is a necessity when it comes to remote work. When you’re collaborating with other workers across the internet, your Wi-Fi has to remain secure and stable. The last thing that you want to do is slow down productivity because your video call keeps going down due to a temperamental connection. Unsure if your Wi-Fi is up for the job? You can use Speed Test to, well, test your internet quality. If it’s below standard, you may have to change provider or purchase a Wi-Fi booster.
Microphone: When setting up for video conferences, you need three main elements: Wi-Fi, a webcam, and a microphone. While it would be nice to have a HD camera, it’s fair to say a high-quality microphone is the more important of the two. You want your employees and clients to be able to clearly hear what you’re saying, and that’s rarely possible with an in-computer microphone. Along the same lines, you should also invest in quality speakers or headphones so you can hear what others are saying.
Digital tools: Finding digital tools that are beneficial for you and your company are immeasurably useful when working from home. Internal communication is key whether you are in person or not, so tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack are great for ensuring you all stay connected and in sync.
Additionally, if you work in HR or Legal, and you require a lot of signed contracts, tools that diminish the need for physical documents are extremely important for successfully working remotely. Smallpdf’s eSign tool is a good place to start, as its extremely user friendly and legally binding.
It can also be challenging to stay focused and productive. Luckily there are calendar add-ons like Clockwise that help you get the most out of your day by setting aside Focus Time and arranging meeting times that work for everyone.
An additional monitor: An extra monitor for your desktop or laptop can make life a whole lot easier. You can have, for instance, all of your messaging tools on one monitor, while the other one can be dedicated solely to your work files and documents.
Stick to a morning routine.
You no longer have to drive to the office or get public transport. This is one of the great perks of remote work. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t take this for granted. You might be able to roll out of bed, switch on your laptop, and be ‘at work’ within a couple of minutes. This doesn’t mean you should, however.
It’s recommended to stick with the same morning routine as normal. That means you should wake up at the same time, eat your breakfast, and get dressed.
The latter point is particularly important. Now it’s likely you have seen on social media people wearing professional attire on the upper half of their body – which can be seen during video calls – but have shorts or pajamas on below. While this is a funny visual, try and stick with a full work outfit. This helps from a psychological point of view, as it makes you mentally switch from home life to productive work mode.
Keep up relationships.
Working from home can be a lonely experience. Yet even if you’re not going to be physically in the same room as your workmates, this doesn’t mean you should abandon all communication. Yes, video calling can be a little awkward at first, but it’s worth sticking with it so you can foster relationships with others.
Also, avoid just work-related discussions. Have a chat about the weather, sports, the latest news, etc. – topics you normally talk about when in the workplace. Video calling also helps to maintain face-to-face communication and provide a more personal, engaging experience.
Take a break.
First of all, it’s essential that you firmly establish your working hours. When doing your job from home, it can be all too easy for work to slip into your personal time. If this happens, you’re going to suffer from burnout sooner rather than later.
In addition, always find the time during work hours to take regular breaks. Every hour or so, step up from your desk for five minutes. Go for a walk in the garden or browse through your social media feeds – whatever helps to refresh and reenergize.