The first known use of the term ‘digital nomad’ was in a 1997 book of the same name. Today, digital nomadism, or remote working, is both a lifestyle and a career option legitimised by freelancers and the self-employed. In the time of COVID-19, millions of people across the world are now remote working under nationwide lockdowns.
Remote working offers a few perks for businesses. It’s a great way to recruit diverse talent, make cost reductions, optimise for disruptions such as the global pandemic, and be environmentally considerate. But for some employees and team members, it’s a lonely and isolating way of working. Its effects can go much further than affecting just the individual; symptoms of isolation include high-stress levels and bad decision making. Here are some tested ways to make working-from-home (WFH) work for you:
If you find yourself suddenly forced to work from home, scrambling to set up an effective home workspace for the first time, you’re not alone. Home is where the heart is, but it’s also where your partner or roommates, kids, bed, giant TV, Playstation, laundry machine, and just about every other personal distraction is located. So it’s crucial to define your workspace, somewhere where you can concentrate and be more productive. Whether it’s a room, desk, or balcony, create a separate space that you can instantly associate with work, and disassociate from the rest of your home.
Your remote work rhythm might be different from that of the office. Maybe you’re balancing work and childcare or something else. Whatever’s different, communicate it to your co-workers to let them know when you’re most reachable. Management teams should be in constant communication to share updates on the impact and actions being taken, as well as discussing any updates from official health organisations and government websites. Without this alignment, you risk having teams working to different assumptions. To unite remote workers, open lines of communication between yourselves must be ensured.
Remote work means a change in your daily rhythm as well as the loss of routines like commuting, making it harder to transition to and from work. The most important thing you can do to maintain balance at home is to set work hours. There should be a start and end to your workday, just like there would be in a real office. At the end of the day, turn off the devices you use for work, leave your home office, and shut the door behind you (literally or figuratively, depending on if your workspace has one) Remember to take regular breaks and to get as much fresh air as possible.
In these times, it’s important to maintain collaboration amongst the team. All meetings must include a virtual ‘join’ option so that team members can join from wherever they’re working from and create an online conference room. Face to face interaction goes a long way in making people feel united and engaged. Position your device so that you’re visible via video to enable face to face interaction and feel more connected. If you’re unfamiliar with video calling, try practice calls to family and friends.
Remote work means losing tonal context, for example seeing facial expressions, exchanging looks and sensing intentions. Being in the same room means you can read body language in a way that those plugged in from home can’t. So it’s important to be mindful of this and make your voice heard. Beware however, overcrowded conference calls can make it difficult for people to share their opinions so pause frequently to ensure overall alignment and understanding.
Another tip is to record meetings so those who are unable to join can watch them later or search the automatically generated transcript (if you are using Microsoft Teams) for important information. Recordings allow others to easily review anything they missed or want to watch again. So you can share the raw audio file, use it as a complement to meeting notes, or go a step further and take advantage of transcription services.
In times of mass remote working, teams need to consider frequent communication, not only formal communications such as reporting but also general engagement. So it’s important to create opportunities for the whole team to get together virtually, whether it’s large brainstorms on Microsoft Whiteboard or daily check-ins over a virtual coffee. To avoid the social isolation that can come with working from home, especially for those not used to it, teams should be encouraged to create virtual water-cooler moments to reach out and connect with their colleagues.
In this current climate, the need for togetherness is paramount. Use collaborative chat platforms to encourage fun activities or challenges to maintain morale. Photo contests or praising employees for creative ideas are great ways to help the team stay positive, engaged and energised. Working remotely can feel isolating so get the whole team together, virtually.
Last but not least don’t forget to have fun! Quick lift chats or by the coffee machine are no longer possible. So, be deliberate in connecting. Treat impromptu chat messages as your virtual coffee machine conversations and check-in with colleagues regularly. Given the uncertain times ahead of us, Motivation and morale is reaching a low for many. With all the changes that come with moving to remote work, it’s important to foster and maintain team morale.
We, at UpSkill, know that every team and organisation is different but we hope these tips will help you in feeling connected.
To ensure you remain productive and adjust to this new way of working, we also have more in-depth live sessions coming up. From best practises for remote working to managing remote teams for leaders. Please visit the webinar page to sign up.
And finally, get your team up to speed with our virtual training workshops, via the UpSkill Virtual training. If you’d like to find out more about any of the courses, or our pricing for our Virtual Courses, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.