If we are learning anything during the last few weeks, it’s that times can become uncertain in a hurry. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing schools, conferences, restaurants, and other businesses temporarily shutting down as a precaution to stop the spread of possible infections. As many workplaces transition to keeping workers home, we want to share our own insights as a virtual agency.
Working from home is a key option for millions of people, allowing greater flexibility and increased efficiency. The number of people telecommuting in the U.S. has increased 400% in the last decade, and continues to grow. There’s no doubt that for those currently in business or predominantly laptop-based settings, you’ll be recommended to work from home until the COVID-19 virus is properly dissipated.
Learn how to work remotely effectively with our tips and tricks.
Designate A Space
Find your office, and guard it! Whether a spare room or your kitchen table, find a place where you can focus and have all of your information at hand. If you’re one of the people who will be watching your children during the day, it’s a good idea to set them up with a movie marathon, safe craft area (waterproof markers!), or find a babysitter or family member to help step in. Working from home and having K-12 schools closed is hopefully temporary, but even today all Michigan schools have been closed for three weeks. Your work team and colleagues are all facing this same challenge, but finding your own office space and potential childcare solutions quickly will allow you to stay on track with your business goals and plans.
This is also the time to set expectations for yourself and for anyone in your space. Explain to your kids, roommates, or partner that you have to work, and need alone time. Save yourself from the impossible attempt of doing phone or video calls within a few feet from another person by stepping into another spot where you can shut the door. If you have younger children, it’s smart to set up a baby camera to view them when you’re in another room, just for safety’s sake.
You also have to set up expectations for yourself! What hours do you intend to keep? Without a commute, you can start working earlier. Make your own schedule and stick to it. List your daily tasks out on paper and work steadily through them. A routine helps keep you on track and your work at the forefront of your mind.
Preventing Communication Gaps
A missed email or call is something that’s far more damaging when working remotely than it is in an office setting. While a person can reach you at your desk or during lunch at your workplace, it’s easy to accidentally ignore a communication attempt while working from home. When you work at an office, you likely keep your hours very specifically, so that when you go home, you’re off the clock and not responding to emails or work communications. When working remotely, this is a much harder feat to accomplish, and can be unrealistic when you don’t want to miss anything. Many of your colleagues or clients will be working more randomly throughout the day (like when the children are in bed), and it’s your job to receive and respond to them in a timely fashion, despite the time.
Familiarize Yourself with The Right Technology
Communication is much easier when you work in an office surrounded by colleagues. If you have a question, it’s easy to poke your head into the next office to chat. Now, you’ll need technology to help bridge the communication gap that comes from working remotely. At mConnexions, we use some popular communication technology, like Slack, Asana, and Google Meet. Make sure you have a grip on each platform that your team or clients use. Take an hour to refresh your knowledge of these applications. Are you signed up for all versions of notifications? Working from home is where you want to have notifications galore. Have them sent to your work email, personal email, and your phone. It’s better to have far too many reminders than to miss something.
We know many people dislike video calls, but these will be extremely important to embrace when working from home. Take them as seriously and professionally as you would a meeting in person. Face time, even virtually, goes a long way. Be present even when you’re aren’t present.
It’s a panicky time, but you don’t need to panic. All health departments have common sense recommendations for staying safe. Follow these and be a source of good information and stability while other people are nervous. Life can certainly go on as usual, and will resume its normal course in due time.
By being a positive force for others, you greatly help boost morale in your team and through your clients. Your attitude and approach to this uncertain time also creates a culture of trust and reliability. Demonstrate a confident, helpful attitude, and the people who you work with will be reassured and rely on you even more. People are feeling that there’s no control over the current situation, and you can show that you have control, calm, and certainty that all will be well. This is an opportunity to help your client base and gain more work now and in the future.
Stay the Course
It’s a tempting time to take advantage of a new streaming service, but working on your couch while trying a new show series is the fastest way to miss deadlines and turn in poorly done work. Don’t let the temptation to relax and do laundry overwhelm the reality that you still have to work. If you are successful at remote work, you may earn the right to work from home in the future on certain days or part-time. It can be a gift and a joy to have the ability to work from home.
As a virtual agency, our mConnexions team members are experts in producing meaningful, quality work while being remote employees. We understand the nervousness, but know that there are smart ways to lessen the impacts of COVID-19 both health-wise and work-wise. Reach out to our team with any questions or tips of your own!