Working from home has become a hot topic this year.
(Apologies to those people who have been doing it for years!)
As a result of a certain global pandemic, many have had no choice but to do their job from home.
We may have to do it again before too long. Employees and managers alike.
The good news this time is that we’ve been here already.
We’ve experienced the good… and the bad.
So, what have we learnt that can help us carry on working to the best of our ability, given the circumstances?
Here, we’ve rounded up some things to help make your working from home experience productive and manageable.
Make Sure Your Business Is Flexible
We wrote some more about this topic in another article. Link
If you want to learn about the technology your business needs to keep running, have a read.
However, to summarise we talk about:
- Cloud software – So all of your activities are integrated, up to date and usable wherever you are.
- Hosted phone systems – Making you contactable from the business on your mobile phone.
- Unified comms – Software that allows streamlined communication with the rest of your team.
The main thing is providing the technical means for your team to work effectively in whatever location they’re in.
Understanding Mental Health
One of the big talking points of recent times is staying on top of your mental health.
A big factor in business success is looking after your employees and this includes recognising how mental health can impact their ability to do their job.
There are a number of things you can do, some of which we’ll go into in more detail below. But simply recognising it is the first step.
The added uncertainty of the world around us and the danger posed by a pandemic can lead to things building up in your mind. One of the best things you can do for your mind is limiting the amount of news and social media you take in.
Social media has major benefits of course but taking breaks from it every once in a while, does wonders. Instead, practice being in the moment and remembering there are some things you can’t control and things you can. Focus on those things instead.
This is all linked to setting clear boundaries.
Set Clear Boundaries
One downside of working from home is that boundaries can become blurred.
When home and work are the same place it can become harder to draw the line.
Where does one stop and the other begin? After all, for a lot of people their desk is their kitchen table.
The management have a responsibility to provide their teams with clear boundaries they can stick to in order to replicate the working day.
For example, ensuring that people stop working at a certain time and sticking to that, regardless of what work has been achieved.
It’s also important to make rest and relaxation a priority and have healthy boundaries throughout the day. Going for walks is a great way of taking a break and clearing the mind.
But as important as it is to switch off at the end of the day you should make sure it doesn’t get in the way of working.
It might be tempting to turn the TV on over lunch but this is risky. One 20-minute episode on Netflix can quickly turn into sitting in front of the TV for 2 hours.
You’ll thank yourself later for keeping the two sides of your life separate.
Physical Health Is Also Important
This is kind of a bonus point…
Your overall physical wellbeing can also have a big impact on your mental health.
With gyms closed and many other avenues of physical activity not available to us during a pandemic, it can be easy to slip out of the habit of daily exercise.
Incorporating some exercise into your routine can help with mental health and improve staff productivity.
Another thing to think about is posture. Bad posture is a problem wherever you are but at least in the office, you generally have office chairs, designed to be sat in for hours on end.
At home, many people don’t have the luxury of office furniture and will be relying on dining chairs, sofas or worse.
Encouraging good posture and an awareness of back health is necessary to make sure your staff stay healthy and don’t get burned out on work.
Maybe on your next team meeting, start it with some aerobics or simple back and breathing exercises.
Have Accountability With Your Team
Businesses still need to move forward and maintain certain levels of productivity, however for a lot of people it’s more difficult to keep on task at home.
For management, keeping track of what work is getting done just got a whole lot harder.
So, you need to find ways of ensuring things get done without adding to the stress of an already stressful situation.
One way to keep accountability is to have common goals and stick to them. Is there something you’re all working towards?
Do individual team members feel like they’re part of something bigger or are they just completing each task as it lands on their ‘desk’? They’re definitely going to be more motivated if there’s a unifying vision.
There are also daily, weekly and monthly goals that individuals can aim for. Completing these goals is a great way of boosting motivation and can give employees the momentum they need.
By putting things in boxes and structuring your week so that it coincides with a wider project, you can hopefully get a lot more done.
But go easy…
Having said all that it’s important to go easy on your team and on yourself.
This isn’t a normal time. We’re facing difficulties that some of us have not gone through before and the reality is a lot of people will not be working at full capacity.
Allow some leeway for people probably not getting as much done as they might in the office (although who knows, some people might be more productive!)
Give yourself a break. Mix it up. Working from home can be fun so enjoy the good parts of it and don’t stress.
Things will get back to normal soon.