Millions of workers across the country are beginning another work week from their kitchen tables, spare bedrooms, living room couches or if they’re lucky, a home office. With nearly 30 states ordering residents to stay-at-home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the worldwide trial run of remote working has begun. Employees and employers are quickly trying to acclimate – implementing new technology, shifting processes, and leveraging each other’s creativity to navigate this new distributed workforce. At POS Portal we’ve been through the wringer, have gotten our teams and meetings spun up in a virtual environment and have learned some things along the way, we thought we’d share some of the key takeaways for others navigating this new world.
Get Collaboration Tools
An important part of any work-from-home strategy needs to be a way to digitally collaborate with your peers like you would in person. The key to this is having the right collaboration tools in your digital toolbox. Not only will these tools play an essential role in enabling remote teams to get work done they also help maintain the social and fun components of working together.
- Video conferencing software
- A chat app
- Cloud collaboration and shared documentation tools
- Project management software
Encourage Online Security
One of the biggest threats that employers face during this period is security risks. External threats are a high-risk for businesses as they could gain access to private company and client information. Companies should invest in authentication tools and VPN software to enable employees to access the office network and digital applications remotely. Providing regular feedback to staff on how to minimize security risks is more valuable while working remotely. Here are some tips for employees:
- Reflect Before You Connect – Connecting to unknown and unsecured WiFi can be dangerous for your security. Using a VPN before connecting can create an encrypted, private connection.
- Think Before You Link – Hover over a link to reveal URL. If it looks different from what you expect, don’t click it.
- Phishers Aren’t Friends – If you receive a suspicious email, don’t open or click it. Follow up with IT. Never give your information through email.
- Password Perfection – Try to use a long passphrase with letters and characters instead of simple passwords.
- Fresh Is Best – Always download the latest updates from your operating system, browser, and any other applications you use regularly
Keep your Team Healthy
When most people think about working from home they think about the obvious benefits – sleeping in, working in pajamas, and avoiding traffic jams – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential struggles for employees used to working in an office environment. Remote workers are prone to being more sedentary, feeling isolated or unconnected and often struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This is why an essential part of any work-from-home strategy is looking out for the mental and physical wellness of your employees. While managers will have to recognize each employee’s unique situation, stressors, and needs – these are some tips for employees new to remote working:
- Create a schedule – People tend to work more from home because it’s harder to “leave” work. Set “in office” hours and communicate these to your colleagues
- Take scheduled breaks – Schedule regular breaks that include more than just bathroom and coffee stops. Move to a separate area, away from your email.
- Stay Connected – Leverage technology tools to stay connected with peers. Virtual Happy Hours, e-coffee chats, and regular team check-ins are a great way to encourage team socializing
- Get physical – You won’t be climbing stairs or walking throughout the office to collaborate. So, you’ll have to find new ways to be physical. Walk during a conference call, do yoga at lunch, or take a run at the end of the day. Exercise boosts endorphins, which is key to productivity.
- Eat healthily and stay hydrated – Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. Meal prepping or keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy eats is key.
While this period of remote work isn’t typical, this is most likely our new normal. Since this is new terrain for all everyone, being flexible and understanding is key for leaders. As teams adapt and adjust to the new technology and processes, we will begin to see the advantages of a distributed workforce. And if anything, this experience will help you create a new remote work environment that can be used beyond this forced trial run.