Here are my top four things that you need to have in place to make working from home go as smoothly as possible:
- Get the relevant technology in place to make your job possible
- Create a workspace that’s quiet and comfortable
- Find a process that works for your new environment
- Stay flexible!
1. The relevant technology
Connectivity is all important, so a good internet connection is a must. You can tether your 4G phone connection as a backup, but remember to keep an eye on data usage if you’re on a fixed plan. It’s a huge plus if your business is using VoIP for telephony, as you’ll be able to receive calls made to your normal business phone line through your mobile.
Accessing all your usual documents is fundamental to being able to work efficiently. Using a VPN will allow you to view files stored on an office network, and storing your documents in a cloud-based document sharing system such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365 will mean that you can access them from anywhere.
Staying in touch with your colleagues through phone calls, or better, video conferencing is also very important. You can use shared calendars to check availability, and web-based task systems can help keep track of progress if in a task oriented role.
2. Your workspace
It’s hard to get anything done if your back hurts, you’re distracted by all the chores to do around the house, or your children are constantly shouting in your ear.
If possible, try to find a separate room and set up a permanent desk with a comfortable chair. This will help you focus when it’s work time, just like when you get to the office in the morning.
It also means that when you go away from your work space, you can relax and stop thinking about work, which is important to make sure you get good rest.
We’ve all had to adjust our processes to accommodate our unfamiliar situation. Sometimes this is a case of moving offline processes online, other times it’s a new process altogether.
Daily team catch ups are important because we no longer have incidental contact with our colleagues at the office. As discussed above, video calling is the most personal approach, and is more likely to keep everyone engaged.
It’s a good idea to have more meetings than usual with clients to maintain confidence, as they need reassurance that your business is managing despite the obvious upheaval.
Keeping to a personal schedule will help you to focus on work and enjoy your time off, so diarising everything to keep colleagues updated will help them know when you’re working, on a client call, or away from your desk.
4. Be flexible!
Despite all the above advice, it’s really important to be flexible in everything you do. None of us can have prepared for the situation we’re in, and you can be sure that those we interact with on a daily basis are no better off than you.
Remember that it’s not possible to do everything the way you want.
- You might not be able to work regular hours due to childcare or other needs.
- Physical separations can lead to stilted meetings so try your best to be engaged
- You might not have access to some crucial systems such as paper files or local version control
- Some parts of your job might just not be possible at all
The key is to recognise and manage those situations as best you can, rather than worry about them.
Most of all, it’s important to keep yourself and those around you motivated, to stay focussed on the task at hand, and to stay safe.