To say this is a brave new world — with teams working from remote locations — is a bit of an understatement. Thanks to COVID-19, remote work is now mandatory, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find success under the current circumstances.
However, considering that last year just 4.7% of workers were truly remote, much of the population is going through culture shock in the wake of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) pandemic. A significant percentage of the workforce, if not most, is working from home to maintain proper social distancing.
While many companies had remote working in place before the pandemic, not all global companies did, which seems surprising. A recent study by OWL Labs revealed less than four in 10 (38%) employees work on-site without remote working opportunities.
The facts are causing significant disruptions for many organizations, and the pace of business cannot come to a complete stop. It requires organizations to deploy new solutions and institute new policies, some of which are more fluid than they are defined.
But, COVID-19 is affecting more than just businesses. Schools and universities across the world have closed their doors, causing additional stress among workers who must take on the role of the teacher in addition to working professional.
More often than not, schools do not have a distance learning program in place. Their staff usually communicates with their colleagues, administrators, and students in person. Like many businesses, schools were not prepared for the stay at home mandates enacted across the country and the world.
Employers must ensure their teams are empowered and enabled to be successful while remote. At the same time, they must keep them engaged and productive. For businesses and educational institutions, having an emergency remote working plan is critical to keep employees safe and keep everyone operating with minimal disruptions.
Regardless if you are a business or school that allows for employees to work remotely or not, everyone must face the possibility that employees may need to work remotely for a long period of time. So, then what?
Even with this ongoing major health pandemic affecting every corner of the world, businesses can protect their employees while keeping the wheels of productivity in motion.
One of the critical tools for maintaining connectivity is video conferencing and webcast technology. The deployment of vids not only helps to quell concerns of spreading the virus but also enables businesses and schools to empower their employees to eliminate travel and work remotely. All of this results in greater safety, peace of mind and productivity.
Right now, businesses and schools are trying solutions as part of their efforts to minimize the impact coronavirus has on employees, customers, partners, students, and communities. Video conferencing and webcasting brings teams together and supports work efforts while connecting everyone around the world regardless of location.
Plus, it has the added benefit of staving off isolation, something many people working from home feel.
While video conferencing and webcasting are options for continuing face to face interaction virtually, how do you ensure employees are empowered to be successful from home, happy and healthy, concerns about well-being in addition to productivity? Consider these few tips.
Define Your Work Environment
Define your ideal work environment, including physical and mental space, that allows you to focus. Whether you work best with music, TV or in quiet, find the right place for you to be comfortable and productive.
Boundaries are crucial and having a designated environment — physical and auditory — allows you to focus and accomplish what’s necessary and enables you to unplug after work. In an ideal world, it’s best to eliminate distractions, but that is not necessarily practical at the moment. Instead, anticipate them and work to minimize them as much as possible.
Stay on Track
Maintain your schedule so your team knows when you’re available. Remember, just because you’re working remote doesn’t mean you must be available every hour of the day. While it’s up to each team member to stay on track and maintain their regular work schedule, be transparent about your non-office needs.
Punching the proverbial timecard at the end of the day is critical to avoid burn out and to achieve a successful work-life blend. After the team has logged off, take the time to transition back into your personal life. We could be in this situation for a bit, so it’s best to avoid burn out in the first few weeks.
Stay Active and Alert
Just as you do in the office, make it a point to schedule breaks to get up and move throughout the day. It’s easy to forget to do when working from the comfort of your home.
Feed your mind and your body with movement throughout the day, so you’re as alert and productive as possible. Do not let yourself be dormant in one spot, as you’ll lose focus, which will impact your productivity.
It could be as simple as taking a walk around the block for fresh air — while practicing social distancing. Aside from the health benefits of a walk, it’s the perfect way to clear your mind and put into perspective whatever conundrum may be in front of you.
Don’t be alarmed if your calendar and the pace of your workday feels different than it might when working from the office. People respond to this change differently; some revert to working in silos, while others will adapt to it remarkably well.
Make sure you’re proactive in engaging with your colleagues as you would in the office. Use the available channels to engage, collaborate and troubleshoot. Pick up the phone, send a text or ask for assistance. Just because you’re not in an office does not mean you should not engage with your colleagues as usual.
Achieve Normalcy — Even if it’s a Different Kind of Normal
While circumstances may be settling with each passing day, this remains far from usual times. It’s best to try and achieve some semblance of normalcy. Start by keeping a regular routine. Wake up, get ready and pour a cup of coffee or tea as you would if you were going into the office.
Maintaining these small habits — and doing your best to prepare for the day’s tasks — gives a level of structure. No matter how minuscule that structure may feel, it is vital at the moment.
In the end, effortless communication and close collaboration make remote teams successful. Using quality webcast and video conferencing software gives your team members face time to feel more connected. It also fosters effective communication and effortless collaboration to achieve normalcy outside of the office.
If your business or school does not have a plan in place for remote working, act now and create one. The global spread of the virus has revealed whether companies and schools were equipped to respond to sudden workplace changes.
It’s Not Too Late to Catch Up
Even for the organizations that were caught off guard, there is still be an opportunity to catch up. They should look to deploy solutions that facilitate collaboration from the teams working in remote locations.
What happens in the coming weeks and months is likely to change the face of the work experience forever. It shouldn’t take a pandemic or a national disaster to make everyone understand the importance of preparation. Sometimes it does.
Regardless of what happens with COVID-19, everyone is likely to look at remote working in a new light.
In the meantime, let’s remember this is a difficult time for every organization and everybody in the workforce. Organizations have the opportunity to exceed their expectations and emerge better positioned for the future. For the time being, it’s critical to remain flexible and adaptable to a changing situation; know that everything will not go smoothly or according to plan.
More than any other piece of advice, be sure to exhibit kindness to your coworkers and those around you. A little goes a long way. It’ll help make the world seem a bit saner — even if just for a moment.