In 2020, the world has seen a significant increase in remote workers. Between March and April, the percentage of U.S. workers who had worked remotely went from 31% to 62%, and what we are seeing is that a good portion of those that started working remotely in March had planned to do so for just a few weeks. Today, we realize that some of us will be working remotely through the end of the year or permanently. If this remote setup is here to stay, maybe it is time for you to take a second look at improving your work from home environment in order to go from a good to a great experience. So what are some of those areas that can improve?
Let us look at a few tips.
Tip # 1 – Create a Routine
It can sound like a simple or obvious tip, but creating a routine while working from home can make a big difference. The idea is to get your brain mentally prepared to start your workday, so set up your alarm, drink your morning coffee, shower, and get dressed for work. We know that it is tempting to stay in pajamas, but that will lead to a slower start and a less productive day.
How you dress, how you sit, and if you smile or not, does make a difference in the level of confidence that you project to the person on the other side of the phone call, even when you are not on video. A routine gives you a structured feeling and can help your spouse, partner, kids, and even pets understand that it is your time to work.
Keep in mind that you might take regular short breaks to keep you energized and focused. You can time your short breaks to give you even a more strict structure if you need to focus.
At night, always ensure that you get enough sleep; that TV episode can surely wait.
Tip # 2 – Physical Workspace
One of the challenges of working from home is separating your work vs. home space. When going to the office, it was easy to differentiate, but it can be more challenging at home. Everyone’s situation is different, but the goal is to have a way to turn work mode on or turn it off.
Having a separate dedicated room with a desk and comfortable chair is ideal, but not everyone has that space available, especially if you had not planned to work for home for this long. However, you can do; for example, if you are using your kitchen table, make sure when you are done with work, that you pack your work laptop and paperwork so that space is now back to being your home space.
One of our team members recently shared with us that he is working out of his dining room table, and he has a work spot; when it is time for lunch, he makes sure to get up and use a different chair. The point is to make that mental note that you are now home on your lunch break.
Experts recommend a space that promotes productivity and does not interfere with the life of other loved ones in the house as much as possible.
Tip # 3 – Technology Considerations
Evaluate and optimize your internet connection. In a home environment, you are competing for bandwidth with your loved ones. Now that we are all at home, you can easily find uncle bob watching a movie while mom is on a conference call and kids are in virtual school or online gaming. At times, the internet bandwidth can potentially be not enough.
Before upgrading, we recommend to run a speed test and check if you are getting the speed you subscribe to. If possible, try to limit the use of applications that demand a lot of bandwidth. If the bandwidth continues to be a problem, you might want to consider either increasing bandwidth or talking to your IT department about network optimization at home.
Security is essential while working from home, so talk to your IT department to ensure anti-virus, anti-spyware and system updates are all set up while working remotely. You might also need to connect to the office network to access files and resources, so you might need access to its virtual private network (VPN).
In terms of communication, an IP phone or a softphone can provide you access to the company’s phone system while at home. A softphone allows you to use your business phone from either a smartphone or your computer to connect to your clients, coworkers, and teams on the go while enjoying all the functionality of your office extension. In addition, you can do this from anywhere with an internet connection, making it ideal for people who work from home.
GreenLink’s Softphone allows you to chat and create room chats to communicate with the whole team. You can also have all your conference calls in the same app.
We wanted to incorporate headsets as a particular point not to extend the list but to underline the importance of having a good, comfortable, and practical headset as an essential tool of your WFH tool belt.
TIP # 4 – Effectively engage with our coworkers
Adapting teamwork to a WFH environment is no easy feat. We might be using the right tools to communicate, but we miss the chat around the water cooler. Creating rapport with your coworkers goes beyond your desk. Every lunch, break, or meeting becomes a simple way to connect as peers making understanding each other almost a second nature.
The context that goes along with what we say in the day-to-day might be lost now that we have to use digital devices to connect. That is why we recommend having companywide Happy hours and after work virtual meetings to share a laugh – maybe a drink- and enjoy each other’s company without having work-related responsibilities and conversations. The same goes for departments and teams; having a quick moment to catch up and sharing non-work information can go a long way in nurturing that relationship.
GreenLink provides cloud-based VoIP solutions through a network of local Managed IT Service providers. A Managed IT Service provider or MSP can help you implement and manage solutions that can make a remote work more effectively while improving IT operations. To be connected with one of our local IT Partners email us at firstname.lastname@example.org