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Best Tips for Working from Home during COVID-19

As our world continues to face the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 virus, with borders closing, entire countries in mandated lockdowns and of course the saddening loss of lives. It’s a scary time for literally everyone right now.

If you’re not in a mandated lockdown, you’re still likely self-isolating at home and avoiding unnecessary outings. These measures have meant many companies are requesting their employees work from home, something they may not have previously developed policy around — or even allowed. 

So — if amidst the chaos that is this world-wide pandemic, you find yourself working from home for the first time, we have some resources that might help. 

Resources for remote employees 

As a distributed company with a large proportion of our employees working from home, we’ve got some tips that might be useful as you grapple with your new routine. 

Remote Working Best Practices 

A list of practices we’ve found essential when trying to make remote work a sustainable and enjoyable work model.

How to be Successful Working Remotely

This article shares some habits to implement that will help you stay productive while WFH.

ShieldGEO Remote Worker’s Home Set Up

The idea of working from the couch is fun in theory, but as a long term solution? Not so much. Here’s a round-up of our teams home setups to inspire you to set aside a space conducive to productivity (and lumbar support!)

Working From Home Week

Some reflections from Sujay and Stella who usually split their time in the office and at home after they spent a whole week WFH.

A Day in the Life Series – Meet Moni, Wee Yen, and Brenda

Each month we profile one of our employees to showcase how they structure their days working remotely. While some of this advice (escaping to a coffee shop or co-working space) will no longer apply (sigh), it may help to see how others have made this situation work long term. 

We’re going to keep this series running throughout this pandemic period, so watch out for the potentially more applicable isolation day in the life profiles to come. 

How much money could you save by working remotely

No advice here but maybe some good news?

Resources for remote managers 

Managing your team remotely requires a few different skills than if you were sitting right next to them in your shared office space. But don’t worry — we’ve got some tips to help. 

Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams

Here’s a basic outline for managers who have suddenly found themselves managing remote teams. 

How to Set Up Safe Workspaces for your Remote Employees

You may not have had the time to create proper policy or safety measures before being forced into a remote work setup. This article gives an overview of the main areas to cover, including data privacy and equipment requirements.

Keeping your Remote Workers Happy

If you’re only just switching to a WFH model, you may not have had time to set up proper policies and practices for your employees. This guide lists how to prioritise your employee’s wellbeing while they work remotely. 

What Remote Workers Aren’t Telling You

During these unprecedented times, everyone could do with a little extra support. This article shares some of the pitfalls of working away from your team — and how a manager can help. 

Interview with Michael from Zoom

You’ve probably already turned to Zoom for your meetings and team happy hours (if not — get on it!). This interview shares some interesting insights from Michael Chetner, Head of Asia Pacific at Zoom, who shares his tips on how to use the program effectively. 

But remember this is not a regular remote work situation

With schools closed and parents having to take up homeschooling tasks, support networks reduced to FaceTime, outdoor activities slashed as well as any hopes of escaping to a co-working space or coffee shop for a couple of hours, and anxiety a constant companion — it’s ok if you’re finding working from home a struggle! 

The most important thing at this time is to have some grace for ourselves as we come to terms with this bizarre new world. 

I’ve been working from home or remotely on and off for nearly five years. While of course some of this still does feel familiar — I didn’t have to download Zoom or figure out how to work alongside my team remotely — lots of this is still new and overwhelming, and even I’ve been left feeling frustrated and distracted. 

I’m isolating with my partner and some other friends, including two young children which makes keeping to my regular routine kind of difficult. 

The first week or two had us all huddled around someone’s phone listening to the latest announcements from our government leaders (we don’t have a TV) multiple times a day. We wanted to talk about everything. Express our mounting anxieties—check-in on our families. Everything seemed to be changing so quickly, and we were trying to keep abreast of the news here in Canada as well as the US and back home in Australia (where I’m originally from). 

So, while I was still logged on and making my way through my to-do list, there were lots more breaks than usual and not really the ~ fun~ kind. All my meetings ran longer as we all shared how we were handling everything, and what was going on on our side of the world. Everyone had a story.  

I’m having to tag team my desk with my partner who is also working from home during all of this. This means one of us has to be at the kitchen table (where our friends are often trying to keep their kids occupied with art and random science experiments) or on the couch or bed which just generally is counter-intuitive to productive, healthy habits. 

And amongst all this, is a wrestle of guilt and gratefulness that these are the sum of my issues right now. I have been able to keep my job, and my house is full of people I love, and there’s enough food to go around. Which I’m hyper-aware is not the case for so many people. 

So even though it is technically ‘working from home’, it’s also not.

The Essentials 

If none of the other tips are helping you right now and you can’t even get your brain to think clearly about how to make WFH work in a time like this. These are the absolute basics for managers to get right. 

Equipment

Employees must have all the equipment they need to actually get their work done. This is more than just a laptop too. Think programs like Zoom or hangouts or anything else that may sit on your office computer. You may even want to invest in providing a laptop stand, a mouse and keyboard or second monitor. 

Accessibility 

All systems should be set up, so they are accessible from home. It’s not only annoying but severely reduces productivity if someone has to keep asking for access or to have someone send over files. 

Internet

This one’s a no brainer. Most people will have a working internet connection at home, but they may be surprised to find that the internet speeds which were previously adequate for Netflix and social media are lagging a little when sending large files for work. 

Consider an internet allowance if they need to upgrade during this period. 

Space 

While, obviously, you’re not going to ask someone to move houses during this time, it’s a good idea to ask about their space availability. Do they have a place they can work from? If not a dedicated office, can they easily pack away their work items to give a clear boundary? Who else is in the home? Will they be distracting? Is there somewhere they can go to take a phone call? The answers to these questions will help you set the appropriate expectations during this time. 

Set new agreements for this time

As we’ve already established, this is not a normal working from home situation. Productivity will likely be down due to a myriad of reasons. Instead of being shocked by this or pressuring employees to fulfil old requirements, now is the time to set new clear agreements to avoid disappointments. 

Agree how you’ll communicate — will you have video calls once a day? Or only a few times a week? Should questions be sent via email? Or would using a tool like Slack be better? 

Will any working hours, meeting times of KPI change? For parents with children home from school, they may now prefer to work more hours before their children wake up or after they go to sleep. A lunchtime meeting may no longer work as they could now be required to prepare food for their families. 

Check-in even more than you think you should

Feelings of disconnection and isolation are common among remote workers at the best of times. Now, without the ability to see friends or rely on regular coping mechanisms like exercise classes — it’s so much harder. 

Check-in regularly with your team — ask how they’re going and if there are any other measures you could implement. 

More to come 

As we all go through this strange time together (metaphorically, of course), we’ll be making more content that caters to WFH full of resources, guides and helpful advice. If there is anything that you’re interested in reading or something you need some specific information on please reach out as we’d love to be a source of aid and encouragement during this time.  

 

– Bree Caggiati

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