It can be hard to separate home life from work, especially when you have children to look after, home schooling duties, your partner’s needs and other demands to juggle. For many, space is limited – you may be working at the kitchen table – and IT issues can crop up, whether it’s a failing laptop, patchy WiFi or bandwidth issues. Add to that the distractions of worrying about your loved ones’ health, catching up with the constant stream of news or wondering how secure your job is, and it’s no wonder productivity can suffer.
Many workers also feel cut off and lonely. Not only is networking much harder when you lose those valuable water cooler conversations, work can feel a lot more intense without coffee breaks or impromptu chats with colleagues.
However, while the sudden switch to remote working has presented its challenges, there is also an upside to all this. Finally embracing remote working on a large scale gives us a welcome boost in flexibility that will most likely remain when the pandemic is over. The past few weeks have been a huge test bed for collaboration and communication tools, with adoption rates soaring. They have shown that the technology is mature, people can be trusted, targets will be met and work will get done.
Despite juggling children, home and work, many have found a better work-life balance: spending quality time with their family, finding more opportunities to exercise and perhaps eating more mindfully, rather than grabbing lunch al desko. It can be easier to focus when you’re not in an open plan office. And finally, the reduced need to travel has been good for the environment. All of these are benefits that we should try to keep in the long run.
There are several things you can do to help remote workers be as productive as possible. One of the most important steps is to create an environment that’s as close to normal as possible. Make sure the infrastructure is the best it can be and supports the same capabilities as in the office – from access to files and information to easy communication with colleagues and customers. Everyone must be reachable via their usual office phone number, no matter which end device they are using. Noise-cancelling headphones can be useful for those sharing spaces with partners and children.
Routines are important so try to follow the same daily schedule you would in the office. Regular meetings that previously happened in person should now take place online. Employees should be encouraged to stick to established processes and standards – but check that these are still realistic and simple enough to follow. When time is tight, setting clear priorities helps manage workloads. This is a good time to review goals and where necessary, set new expectations.
To support collaboration across distances, communication is key. Employees can stay engaged with colleagues, customers and partners via group chats, online meetings, calls and web conferences, while collaboration on documents is easy with widely available cloud tools. Actively make space for virtual team exchanges to replace office conversations where people can bounce ideas off each other and share their news. Don’t forget to have fun – build informal social interactions into the schedule, too.
Finally, and crucially, allow some extra flexibility. Don’t overschedule; instead, encourage employees to switch off and make sure they take enough time to focus on their mental and physical wellbeing.
Your most practical consideration right now is whether your employees have all the tools and resources they need to be as productive as they can.
At NFON we strive every day to give our customers the freedom of flexible communication. Our cloud telephony platform, Cloudya, helps people work seamlessly from everywhere, any time, while Nvoice for Microsoft Teams integrates powerful communication features into Microsoft’s popular collaboration tool. And Ncontactcenter helps you deliver the best customer support, whether your agents are at home or in the call centre.
Find out more about our solutions and see how we can support you with making the home office work.