COVID-19 has quickly change our organizations. Many have either shut down or asked their workers to work from home. This can cause some challenges that you are not familiar with. We have been working from home for quite a few years. And we have put together some things that will help you with the transition.
1. Video Conferencing
Use video conferencing technology to keep in contact with remote staff members or clients. If you do not have a solution, I suggest you look at Free Conference Call or Zoom.
We have used Free Conference Call for several years and have had no problems. We have held over 291 meetings, with 924 participants for a total of 15,299 minutes. And, have had almost zero problems. Also, it cost $0. You can find more information at Free Conference Call
You may be a little uncomfortable using a free service. In that case, I suggest you look at Zoom. They offer free service with a limit of 40 minutes per meeting. Their paid service called Zoom Pro is $14.99 per month and includes up to 100 participants in a meeting and the meeting limit is 24 hours. You can find more information at ZOOM.
If you have groups of workers that need to work together and collaborate, look at using a tool such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. These are great services that allow remote teams to stay in contact with one another and stay productive. You can start with a small team for free. See Slack or Microsoft Teams for more info.
3. Response Time
If you are working from home, it is best to respond to emails and voicemails more quickly than you would normally when you work from the office. For some reason, it seems that people are less patient with you when you are working from home.
If background noise is disruptive, such as children playing or dogs barking, you can turn on some white noise by either turning on a fan or using a white noise app on your phone or iPad. You might want to try the White Noise Ambience Lite app from the Apple App Store.
Since you are working remotely, you miss the casual impromptu interactions with co-workers. Make it a point to communicate frequently. If you feel you are over-communicating, you are probably not.
Keep your routine. Part of being prepared to work is doing the morning routine that we are used to. Some people get up and dress as if they were going to the office even when they work remotely. These habits help us remember that we are here to work. Even if here is at home.
Find a good location to work. The kitchen table probably isn’t the best place to work uninterrupted. Also, think about ergonomics, we may feel comfy sitting on the couch with our laptop on our laps. But we will probably be sorry in a few hours.
With school closures and daycare issues, you might be faced with trying to work and taking care of the kids at the same time. This is a difficult situation, I know. You will have to find a balance of taking the time to check in on them and getting your work done. You probably don’t want your kids to spend 8 hours watching Disney. It is going to be hard to find educational activities to keep them busy. And something that doesn’t need your constant supervision. I wish I had answers for you on this. The best I can say is you are going to have to work on it. This is where I think we all will have to be flexible. You may have to work in the evenings to make up some of the time lost during the day.
9. Phone Calls
Since there is a huge shift of workers to work remotely, there is a chance that the phone circuits and video conferencing systems may become overloaded and you’ll get busy signals. Many people schedule phone calls and video conferences to start on the hour or half-hour. Try shifting the start times of meetings to 10:20, for example, to eliminate bottlenecks.
10. Internet bandwidth
This could become an issue as more people work from home and kids are home at the same time. If you experience delays in your connection to work, you may have to monitor what your kids are doing on the internet or Hulu. And, if you have not checked with your internet provider recently, you may find out you are entitled to an increase in speed for a small monthly fee.
Don’t forget to get up and move around. In the office, we often have reason to get up from our desk and get a little exercise. At home you don’t have those reasons, so make sure you take regular breaks to walk around. You will find it helps keep your productivity up.
Don’t forget to ask for help. Just because you don’t see your supervisor or co-worker, doesn’t mean that they are unavailable to answer a question.
13. Stay productive.
I know working remotely will be different for many of you. It takes focus to stay productive. If you have technical issues that prevent you from being productive, don’t hesitate to talk to your supervisor about it.
Managers, make sure you communicate your expectations to your staff. And I suggest that staff members make a point to communicate back to their managers frequently. The dynamics changes when you and your staff are working from home. Staff members sometimes feel isolated and managers feel like they are not sure what their team is doing. That is why it is important for both managers and staff to periodically check in with one another.
We recommend you use Laserfiche to store your documents and automate your business processes. It is difficult to work from home if you need to look up documents, such as a customer contract, but it is only available on paper in a filing cabinet back in the office. When our customers use Laserfiche they now can have staff working from home completing applications, processing invoices, approving travel expenses, assisting customers, and other business tasks.
16. Working From Home Benefits
I know that many of you have been thrust into this different work scenario because of COVID-19. Working from home can be frustrating. But, take it as a good change of pace. Look at this an opportunity to work with fewer distractions from co-workers and more time to spend with family. And maybe you will find that you are more productive. Then you will have time to work on those tasks that have been on your to-do list for some time.
Good luck. If you need some help, reach out to us, we would be glad to help.