At this point, working from home is not only good for you, but for your co-workers too. The less people congregating in one place, the better our chances of controlling the spread of the virus. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that can be fully done online and remotely, then good for you. Others may not be as lucky, but they can still consider moving some aspects of their job online. For example, meetings, interviews, orientations/briefings, trainings and seminars can be done using web conferencing and other online communication tools. Meanwhile, inquiries and intake/registrations can be set-up on company websites or done through the phone. This minimizes or eliminates the need for in person contact.
If your employer gives you the green light to work remotely, follow these steps to do it smoothly:
Know your organization’s policy for remote working
This is important especially if your work involves classified or private information. What to check:
- Use of hardware and software – Generally, it is not advisable to use personal equipment. This will entail data security risks, plus it can be challenge for your IT to provide support. Aside from laptops, check if your company issues accessories (such as mouse and webcam) and the software needed to do your job, for example word processing and design programs. Know the proper email accounts and phone numbers to use.
- Use of files and other equipment – Check if you’re allowed to carry paper files and office equipment (other than laptops) and supplies for use remotely. This will depend on the nature of your job and security protocols observed by the company.
- Internet connection – Check if your wi-fi at home is reliable and if it has decent upload speeds. You may also need to have VPN and server access as well as phone service.
- Communication tools and protocol – Does your team use Skype or other tools to communicate? Make sure to set up an account on the right app and let your boss and team know your account details. Your team can also set some ground rules like when and how to let them know that you’re signed in, regularly scheduled updates or check-ins, procedures to follow when submitting work, or how to notify them about schedule changes and sick days.
Do a trial run
A trial run will allow you to find out the kinks early and work them out before you go fully remote. This will also prevent you from going back and forth (to your home to the office), thus saving time and effort (as well as exposure) and minimize technical problems in the future. But keep your IT’s number close by, just in case!
Check if everybody is on the same page
Make sure that you are clear about your team’s communication strategies and deliverables. Know when and how to provide updates on a project (video conferencing, phone, email or google docs?), which collaboration tools to use, and other protocols. Make sure that you can connect with everyone on the team to prevent feeling isolated.
Prepare your office space
Have a room or quiet corner dedicated for working. Make sure that it’s a clean and orderly area with no distractions (noise, TV, kids running around, etc.) or hazards. It is important that you have ample light and ventilation, as well as electrical outlets nearby. Fight the urge to work on your couch or bed! Get an ergonomic table and chair (or standing desk). This will keep you from developing neck and back problems moving forward.
Follow a schedule
Some companies are now adopting staggered work schedules. This is done to avoid overloading their systems since more people are expected to work remotely. The higher loads can slow down or even crash systems. So be clear about your work schedule. Ask your supervisor about it.
Fit in breaks or rest times within your schedule. This is something you might forget because of the relaxed work environment. It’s important to step away from the computer and rest your eyes or stretch your legs from time to time. This will prevent health problems and burnout. Also make sure that you start and end work at the same time and have a list of things to accomplish each day. This will take discipline but you will discover that you are more focused and productive when you follow a schedule consistently.
Be prepared for minor hiccups in the first few days of working from home. Expect technical problems like choppy audio, slow connection or computer, or lost files. There could be funny moments too, like kids dancing in the background while you’re on a video call or catching a glimpse of a co-worker in pajamas. Be patient as this a new arrangement – it takes getting used to. But once you get over these hurdles, you’ll see that telecommuting is not only a safe but a productive option.
Sources: Preparing your employees to work from home, Shannon Miller, Tackle; How to transition your business from an office-based company to a remote one, Russell Smith, Business.com. Accessed March 20, 2020..
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