23

Mar

Ideas to help you cope with the remote working cultural shift

23 03, 2020 Collaboration

Remote working can be a hard adjustment. Here are a few tips to help you through the next few weeks.

Following the Covid-19 outbreak more and more people have begun to work from remotely, something that has been made possible by recent improvements in both connectivity and collaboration technology. Applications such as video conferencing, instant messaging IT infrastructure changes, driven by the availability of the cloud storage, have meant that it is possible for many employees to work away from the office.

However, changing from an office to a remote environment involves a cultural change, and the speed of remote working and social distancing meant there has been little time to put policies and strategies in place for adjustment. This is particularly the case for workers who haven’t experienced working from home before.

Master the conference call

To master the craft of a good conference call, it is important to try and keep it as close to a normal meeting as possible. One way to do this is to create an agenda before the call, like you would for an office meeting. This helps to give the call structure and helps to avoid the meeting becoming a free for all. Another way that helps keep the structure of the meeting intact is the use of video calls. When attending parties can see each other on screen it gives everyone more information as to who is about to talk and how everyone is feeling as the meeting progresses. People are therefore less likely to talk over each other and the meeting flows more smoothly. Cisco, for example, has seen a huge increase in the use of its Webex collaboration platform, with 22 times more people using the service in China since the Covid-19 outbreak.

We recommend using Video right from the “get go” as a standard on every call, to encourage everyone to participate and as a way keep teams together whilst working apart.

Setting a work schedule

By its very nature, a remote working environment is an environment that is less monitored than an office environment and it can be easy to fall into new and different working habits. Even if you are maintaining productivity it is easy to start earlier than usual and finish later, for example. For home workers, maintaining a barrier between work and home life is an essential part of remote working – and it helps to maintain mental health as well as maintain productivity.

Setting up a schedule and a different working space to where yu would usually relax is ideal. You don’t need an actual office but a space with daylight, a desk or table and a good supportive chair.

A further benefit of creating separation between a work and home life if you have a separate space for working whilst in the home, is that you can remove yourself from it and ‘switch off’ when you have finished work.  

Flexibility is key

Being a remote worker can allow a level of flexibility that you don’t have in a traditional office environment. Whether it’s picking the kids up from school or taking the dog for a walk in the afternoon, this flexibility, if managed professionally can improve the output and overall wellbeing of workers.

The remote working environment can be used to develop new ideas for the business or react more quickly to changes in the market. Kept within a structured framework of productivity the newfound flexibility of a remote environment can be used to create agility for workers and businesses alike.

Set up your processes beforehand

An office environment is protected by its processes. These shape that the way that a business is run, and everyone needs to buy into them to some degree to keep the business going. These are processes such as HR, communication tools and protocols and even particular approaches to issues like cybersecurity. Meetings and updates from these various business functions in the office – along with discussion amongst colleagues and managers – is what helps to keep these processes alive and working.

So now you are all remote working, you will need to carefully consider how and who will keep these processes working before and during the move from an office environment. It is likely it will need constant review.

If these are set up properly then the transition to remote working will be smooth , but without it, productivity will be impacted, and issues will arise. Testing them in the days leading up to the move and asking for colleague feedback, will make sure that they are all in line beforehand.

Connect with your team

Remote working can be a lonely environment especially for people used to a busy office. So, connecting with the people in your team is an essential part of working from home. Using services such as instant messaging and videoconferencing to check in and chat with members of the team keeps team cohesion and morale high. Be brave with the technology and embrace the features available!

Trust your Judgement

Ultimately you know your team better than anyone and you know the challenges that they might be facing with remote working. So, you are the best placed person to make that transition as successful as possible. Work with employees to better understand how they would like to communicate whilst at home and carefully manage those reluctant to use video or present their work for example, if ordinarily they would struggle in a face to face team environment.

If you would like advice on how best to keep collaboration levels high amongst your business and ideas for training and how to get the most of your collaboration technologies in place, then contact us today.