As we find ourselves in yet another lockdown, it’s important that we learn from our previous experiences with remote working, and ready ourselves for the months ahead of us. This blog is one of three upcoming blogs that will be covering how to manage yourself, your team, and your recruitment process while working from home.
Before you consider methods of managing others, it is imperative that you take care of yourself and set yourself up correctly for optimum productivity. As we are a recruitment agency, we have had the opportunity to speak to multiple clients and candidates and asked for their advice on coping with remote working. After having these conversations, we have collated 6 main themes and put them into a list for you.
1) Designate a workspace.
First things first, when working from home, you need to find a good workspace where you can be productive. Try to find a table big enough for you to arrange your set up so it has everything you need for a normal working day – Computer/laptop, stationary, paper, telephone etc…
An office, spare room, or any room that you can get some privacy would be ideal. If necessary, you may have to set up in the dining room. Although they’re not the ideal location, it is a good idea to not work in your room; it is best to separate places designated for work and time off. A spot that provides natural light would be great. Also, you are going to be on a lot of video calls, so you may want to position yourself somewhere that you don’t mind your colleagues seeing.
2) Make sure you have all the right technology set up.
The first thing that is of upmost importance is your WIFI. Try to find a place that is positioned with strong WIFI strength so that your calls and day to day work run smoothly. You and your team will be using a video conferencing software like Zoom, WebEx or Skype, so keep this in mind. Of course, you will need a laptop or computer – make sure these have working webcams and microphones. If you don’t have access to any technology that is required for you to work, your company should be obliged to reimburse you.
In addition to the essentials, if you work in an office, you will more than likely need Microsoft Office; this includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook and Teams. Microsoft teams is a very handy piece of software for remote group work. Your team can efficiently share files, edit files live, have video calls and chat using this nifty application.
You may also be required to download a project management tool such as Trello. This will help you to keep track of your tasks and visualise how you and your team are getting along with your goals.
3) Schedule a routine.
Setting up a routine for yourself will help massively with productivity. I know it can be tempting to sleep in, however you must try to get started by 9am and treat weekdays just as you did when you travelled in to work. Children are now working from home too, so if you are a parent, try to schedule in home-schooling into your routine.
As said by Mark Twain, the first thing you should do to start the day is eat the frog… What he means by this is that if you eat a live frog at the start of the day, you can continue with the rest of the day with the satisfaction of knowing that you have got the most unpleasant part of the day out of the way. Therefore, when planning your day, try to schedule in the most difficult or toughest task you have for first thing in the morning. As a result of doing this you are far less likely to procrastinate on your afternoon tasks.
When it comes to your lunch break, it will be very difficult to stop yourself taking extra time off but try to limit yourself to an hour. This way, you can if you manage to stay productive while working, you can call it a day at 5 o’clock. However, if you are struggling to stay focused due to working in your own home, it may be a good idea to schedule in breaks. Therefore, when you’re working you will be more engaged. This brings me on to the next point…
4) Know when to switch off.
From experience from the initial lockdown, this aspect is by far the most challenging. Due to the fact you are given far more freedom when you work from home, you may start to worry if you are getting enough work done. Therefore, you may find yourself working harder and stressing way more than you would have done if you work in the office. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, stay focused on your work throughout the day so when it hits 5 o’clock, you can step away from work and relax.
Another issue you may come across is that you will be being contacted via your phone a lot, frequently receiving email and text notifications at all hours. Therefore, when you finish work, try to refrain from responding to any non-immediate messages or emails.
5) Have a healthy outlet.
There has been a vast amount of research that suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle drastically improves mental health. And, coming from experience, I can guarantee this is true. Try to go on a run or get involved with online workout or yoga classes like Joe Wicks or Gaia. Getting out in the fresh air helps to clear the mind so try to get out once and a while if you can.
Aside from exercise, now might be a good time to pick up a creative outlet. Learn an instrument, try learning some recipes or even pottery. Try something that will give you a bit of satisfaction and keep you interested and engaged in what can be a very tedious and repetetive time.
6) Communicate and stay connected.
As you are not working face to face with your colleagues, communication is more essential than ever. When discussing your goals and tasks, make sure you clarify everything you need to be able to work effectively. Leave no stone unturned. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them as you may become increasingly stressed if you are questioning your work on your own.
In times like these, to stay sane, it’s important to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Ask about how they are feeling and try to have a chat that is unrelated to COVID, lockdown or work. Distract each other and have a laugh – out of work hours of course. Remote, online social activities like Quizzes, Bingo, virtual races and virtual escape rooms are a good way to have a laugh and distract yourself from work and lockdown.