Working fulltime from home is a whole new ball game. We’ve got advice from our people and clients who have been working remotely. These five tips will help you get ready with the right technology, processes and office culture.
This year, most office workers will have to work from home. If you haven’t worked remotely before, it will be an adjustment (and test of your motivation). But, the learning curve doesn’t have to be steep. There are plenty of steps that you can take to ease into working from home. After speaking with our remote people and clients, we compiled advice about the right technology, processes and office culture ideas to ace every day.
1- Look beyond technology
While setting yourself and your co-workers up with access to the right technology is important, we discovered that individual mindset is equally as important. Bonner, from Bremmar, says, “When I first started working from home, I was really struggling until I read that normal routine is important. You need to treat it like a normal day. Which means getting out of your PJs and just doing your normal schedule. It really helps”.
Pro tip: If you have a uniform you might like to wear that (ok you might just put the top on!). Clients and colleagues can video call you at any time and looking at yourself looking nice in the webcam, also makes you feel good,
If you want to be productive, treat each day as a typical office day. Your usual routine will help you trigger the mental association you usually make with the office. Once you’re in work mode, you’ll be a more effective communicator with your team and more able to use the tools provided to deliver quality work.
2- Choose the right communication tool
At Bremmar, we’ve been using Microsoft Teams in the office and for our remote staff. We couldn’t work without it. While each business will need a different tool to solve unique challenges, communication tools should ensure your team can chat, call, meet or collaborate from anywhere.
Jess, our client from Acacia Living Group, said “the thing I miss most about the office is being able to quickly communicate with colleagues. I sit half a meter from my colleague in the office. I can ask for her opinion and solve problems quickly. Not having her right there has been hard and I feel like I’m less available, too”. In an office environment, it’s easy to rely on a face-to-face communication system but you don’t have that luxury when you go remote.
Over many years of helping businesses, we’ve learnt that when systems work, the team works. A communication tool such as Teams, Slack, Facetime, Google Hangout or Zoom will help your people communicate on most devices, anytime and anywhere they like. With a more connected system, working relationships can be more effective and people will be more productive. It’s a win-win.
Pro tip: If you would like to take the next step, a cloud document management solution is also key. At Bremmar, we use SharePoint and our entire team has access to all files from any device and have access to cool features, such as working on the same document at the same time, being able to access versioning control, etc.
3- Get the right hardware and software
Making sure you can access all information securely and easily will help you work effectively. “I love my second screen. When I first started working from home, I worked four days without it and it was tough. Plus, Bremmar has just set up a new Hosted Citrix System which has been great. I had to work in our old system for six days and I was tearing my hair out. It’s been really helpful” said Jess.
You’re likely to experience some delays as you get used to working from home. It’s essential to spend time setting up properly because it will pay productivity dividends in the long run. For employers, a cloud system is a great option. It gives all staff remote access to their desktop anywhere in the world while offering the highest levels of protection for your business. Remember, if your team can’t access the right information, they can’t work.
Pro-tip: We have put together a list of basic remote working and collaboration packages we recommend – check it out here!
Hardware is just as important. The main items are comfy chair (a must!), an extra monitor to your laptop, headsets, a proper mouse and a keyboard if working from a small laptop.
5- Be patient and proactive
When asked about remote collaboration, Sam from Bremmar said “we are collaborating well but the work doesn’t flow as quickly because you have to make a call, send a message or email – and then wait for a response. But we are adapting”. Working from afar on the same projects can be hard. People can be left out of the loop, miss important information or not know when team members are taking lunch or on another call. This can quickly cause frustration and dissatisfaction about work and each other.
The Bremmar team is starting to implement simple solutions that work. “We’re trying to have more online video meetings, which helps. We’re also training ourselves to connect. Everyone needs to remember to check in with each other, especially when people are working in a team or there’s overlap on a task” said Sam. Bonner reinforces that visibility to colleagues’ schedule is key, “what’s been really good is that we have the policy to let line managers know when we’re having lunch by logging on or off Microsoft Teams. It means the person who is taking a break can enjoy it and other team members know why they’re unavailable”.
Each team has its own challenges. However, a quick morning W.I.P. (work in progress) meeting, a daily sign-off meeting or a virtual lunch hour together can help your teamwork cohesively and share the workload. Try to use video calls instead of phone calls. It helps everyone to connect properly, openly share tensions, and solve problems quickly.
6- Don’t forget culture
Sam is an advocate of remote team-building initiatives. “I love the idea of remote video happy hour! Quarantini, anyone?
I don’t want to lose touch with the people who are in our business. When you’re working remotely it’s so easy to just see people as the role they perform, instead of who they are” said Sam. A strong team culture will ensure your team can work together cohesively from all corners of the world. Plus, culture helps people understand where their job fits in larger company picture, which supports individual purpose and accountability. It fosters open communication and social chatter, both are important for employee and business well-being.
Pro-tip: Bremmar keeps having its Friday after-work drinks. We send a Teams invite to all staff, at 5pm everyone connects, and we have a beer and a laugh together! Partners and kids are also invited, and we plan some activities. Last week we celebrated Harmony Week by wearing something from the country staff are from, like a t-shirt or a hat. It was a complete success!
Want to build culture? Here’s some advice from our remote staff and clients.
“Just keep in touch. For employees and employers, it’s all about open communication” – Sam
“Trust that your employees are going to be working. If the work is getting done even if it’s from the couch, provided it’s safe, it shouldn’t really matter” – Bonner
“Do a test day if you can. See how the systems and communication channels will cope. Getting everyone set-up properly will really help them to connect” – Jess.
We’re here to help!
We’re here to help your business thrive in 2020. We’re experts in remote working initiatives and digital collaboration processes. We can help you and your team enable critical applications in the cloud which is critical to get you ready for remote working.
If you need any assistance with IT to enhance your business continuity planning, do not hesitate to contact us on 1300 991 351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org