Working from home - some tools and tips to support your transition
Luna Ricci, Trainer Operations Manager at nubeGo, provides some tips and ideas to effectively manage your transition to working from home.
Most people’s morning routines share some key similarities. Get out of bed, get ready, get something to eat and leave the house to go to work. However, due to the continued spread of COVID-19, this simple routine that seemed to be set in stone has been heavily disrupted across the globe
We’ve all heard about social distancing and voluntary quarantines, and hopefully everyone is doing their part to make some changes in their every-day routines in order to minimise the spread of the disease.
In a lot of cases, this has meant moving from an office setting to home working. Although some people might not be used to it, for those of us that can do our jobs with just a computer, it’s getting more and more easy to fully work remotely. And if you don’t think you can do your job remotely, I’d advise you to think again.
Here at nubeGo, home working has been encouraged from day one. Some of our permanent staff at our Reading HQ consistently work from home one day a week. Some choose to be more flexible and opt for home working when they feel it best suits their routine or a particular activity and we’ve always had permanent team members working from home on a full time basis. I myself have been working remotely for about two years, some 7,000 miles away from the main office. While I’ve seen lots of my close friends struggle to transition from going to their place of work daily to setting up a home office, my day to day activities at work have been pretty much unaffected by the current situation.
Home working can definitely boost productivity, improve motivation and reduce costs in a company, but it’s not as easy as getting a laptop and going home under the pretence that you’ll be able to manage everything you usually do at the office, without first setting up some very important aspects of your new work situation.
After two years of remote work, here’s the five main aspects I think are key to make home working efficient, enjoyable and sustainable:
1. Be responsible with your schedule When working from home, it’s easy to get your personal and professional lives jumbled up. Before you know it, you might be pulling 15 straight working hours one day and slacking off for the better part of a full work day the next.
While flexibility is one of the main advantages of working from home when it comes to your schedule, being unpredictable with your work patterns can really affect your productivity. Homeworkers or not, we’ve all spent a few hours too many at work one day or left early to run an errand when needed, but these are usually exceptions and if you’re working from home, that should still be the case.
In most situations, it won’t be up to you to choose your working hours. If it is however, you might choose to start a little earlier than usual to free up some hours in the afternoon, or you could put your mornings to use in a different manner and extend your work day into the evening. In any case, I would say that it’s best to come up with a fixed schedule and stick to it.
2. Be an active communicator It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re away from the rest of your team, especially if you work far enough away that you can’t hang out in person very often. If you do live in the same city, I would encourage you to take part in as many team building activities outside of work as possible, even if you don’t share a desk with your co-workers on a daily basis.
If you’re on opposite ends of the world, it can get a bit trickier, but it’s definitely possible to build a sense of belonging to the team. Regular meetings and check-ins with your co-workers is a great way to feel like everyone is in the loop, even if you’re not physically working together.
A short daily stand-up works really well for our team, as well as regular check-ins with managers and virtual meetings among members of different teams. In addition, don’t feel like you’re wasting your time if you spend fifteen minutes on the group chat talking with your co-worker about something that is not strictly work related. Building reliable relationships among your team is really important! Just don’t let it interfere with your assignments and you’ll be fine!
Being away from the office means it’s very likely that you’ll have to be more aware of what you need and ask more questions. Make a point to keep open and fluid communication channels with your manager and teammates.
3. Set up a comfortable working space When I talk to people about my home working status, I tend to get one reaction very often. Everyone would like to trade places, who wouldn’t want to work in their PJs from the comfort of their beds! This, however, is not the best way to go about working from home.
While I can’t say I have not attended a handful of meetings while curled up in a blanket on my couch, I do the majority of my work like everyone else, on a desk meant specifically for work.
Back to the idea of keeping a healthy work-life balance, having an area of your house specifically assigned to be your working space is key. I have found that I enjoy a comfortable desk with a tiny table to my right to put snacks, water bottles and coffee mugs. This has saved me from some potential keyboard splashing accidents.
Make sure you have enough light, a comfortable seat and access to some fresh air! It’s important to keep distractions to a minimum. We’ve all experienced that feeling when you have lots of things to do and suddenly reorganising your bookshelves seems more interesting. Keeping a clean and uncluttered working space with as little distraction as possible will surely boost your productivity. Enjoy the freedom to your choice of music as loud as you can work to, but make an effort to create a space that fosters concentration.
4. Take good care of yourself
You might not realise it at first, but working from home can drastically affect your health if you’re not paying attention. While walking to the train station and from there to the office might not seem like much, compared to the ten steps between your room and your home office, it’s a lot. You need to make sure you get some exercise in, even if you don’t leave the house for some days. It will be good for your sleep, productivity levels and mood.
As a homeworker, you will also lack a lot of the social interaction that you would otherwise be getting if you were at the office, so you will also need to make it a point to get involved in other activities that help you connect with people in real life and in online communities.
The same goes for snacks. While most offices have some healthy snack option, you won’t necessarily get that benefit when you’re working from home.
All of these issues are quite easy to fix, but you do need to be a bit extra aware of those three aspects when moving to a home office.
5. Get the appropriate collaboration tools Along with some other innovations that greatly increase our quality of life, there are some excellent online collaboration tools that make the transition to 'working from home' smooth and easier than you think.
A reliable instant messaging application meant specifically for work, will help you communicate with your team while minimising distractions.
You’ll also need file sharing and shared file storage solutions, so that you can share your work with others and collaboratively improve it.
A reliable tool for online meetings is also key, as well as other specific software that you might need depending on the specific tasks you’re in charge of. The key is to have the tools to share information as easily as if you were two desks away from your co-workers, and it’s definitely possible!
nubeGo have a great deal of knowledge when it comes to online collaboration tools. If you need help figuring out how to move from a traditional office setting to working from home at this unprecedented time, do not hesitate to contact us and we might be able to help!
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