The spread of illness should be taken seriously in every work environment. Many offices around the world are still telling their employees to work from home as COVID-19 encourages workplace health and safety. Quarantine can seem like the worst case scenario for active professionals, but the benefits of remote work will surprise you. Telecommuting can be both more productive and more rewarding for your entire team. If you heed good advice and migrate to a paperless office, you can make remote work an absolute boon.
Cultivate Good WFH Habits
CEOs and even shareholders are worried about company output during quarantine. “How can you be productive if there’s no one there to monitor your performance?” The truth is that, according to a recent study, 79% of remote workers credit increased productivity/focus as a main reason for choosing to work from home. However, 38% of remote workers receive no training on how to work remotely. With the right preparation, your employees can raise productivity instead of losing it.
Maintain a mirrored schedule to the daily hours at the office. WFH employees put in upwards of forty-hours-per-week 43% more than on-site workers do. Remote workers also report putting in these extra hours because they are salaried but enjoy what they do. Rather than demanding more time that would otherwise be spent commuting, allow your employees to take the initiative. You may even choose to instate flex hours, where an employee can log on up to three hours early and then log off that many hours earlier at the end of the day. As long as you reserve a few core hours every day where everyone is online for meetings, and as long as everyone logs their hours and gives notice about their schedule, this can benefit the whole team.
It’s still important to eliminate distractions and find or create a dedicated workspace. This includes moving away from a bed or couch, out of the den and into an office room, dining room, or kitchen. If lockdown has been lifted in your area, we recommend finding a quiet café or local library, especially if conference calls are rare. For those at home, it is a good idea to use the same workspace in your house or apartment every day. This routine will foster focus and reinforce the normalcy of being at home without engaging in your typical activities. Get up with time to spare every morning. Make a healthy breakfast, like fruit and granola. Give yourself time to exercise or just do some casual yoga before punching the clock. Employers should disseminate these tips to the rest of their office. A healthy, bright-eyed squad in the morning is more possible with remote work than after a long commute.
Make the Most of In-Person and Remote Time
Many companies are offering their team members ways to commute part-time while working full-time. 40% of global companies are hybrid, which means a mix of remote and on-site work. Some organizations require one day every week on-site with the rest of the week working from home or on the go. It is imperative that, when employees are present, you make the most of the face-to-face time they give you. Employees want to feel that the time they give is valued, doubly so for time spent in the office.
Another urgent concern about telecommuting is, well, the “tele” part. Whether you’re old school or new to your field, everyone can agree that keeping the whole team on one wavelength is key. We hear horror stories of entire projects going belly up because one misinterpreted email caused weeks of delay or gross misuse of assets. These serious blunders can even happen in shared office spaces, so potential mistakes increase dramatically with remote work. Communication should be redundant – send an email to your assistant and then call to make sure he got it, call your boss about the meeting you just had and then share thoughts with her on Slack throughout the day. Whether you like it or not, work from home demands adoption of modern tech.
Teams of users don’t just need to log onto Skype and share ideas. There are also files to be shared. Emails need to be added to documents and processed. Expense reports need to be sent and reviewed. Purchase orders require approval. RFPs must be securely shared with a colleague. Not all of these processes work with just email. Not to mention storing all of this data in a single, secure repository where all relevant employees can access it. File Management software enables file saving and sharing like this. With options to install the product locally, in the cloud, or both, more and more companies are leveraging document management solutions as work goes remote. The right document management will have automated workflows; secure file sharing capabilities; and options for installation, browser access, and even mobile applications. Your entire company can work from home without worrying about data risks or productivity deficits.
Working from Home is Not Just a Fad
Freelancers are having the last laugh right now. Working from home offices, cafes, on vacation, and over holidays is nothing new to them. While outsourcing options abound and span the globe, you can even find freelance specialists in your own backyard. Everything from marketing to tech support, customer service to graphic design, office administration to accounting. If there is an in-house position for it, then there is a contractor who can do the job. While employers understandably prefer to work with a dedicated team full-time, a freelancer can fill in the gaps as they appear for short-term projects or ongoing maintenance. Many charge by the hour, so you could end up footing a pretty substantial bill. Nevertheless, the utility of the freelance community is invaluable in this situation, and fierce competition ensures that you can always find someone to fit your needs and budget. Paired with the online work of your staff, contract projects during the quarantine can ensure a smooth transition into and out of this situation.
With the right File Management technology and scheduling know-how, there is no reason your company can’t thrive in remote locations, even for an extended period of time. More and more companies are not only allowing regular remote work but encouraging it. Health and safety are cause for concern, and we recommend following the guidelines to prevent spread of disease issued by the highest health authorities. As for productivity during and after the pandemic, we recommend following the tips above.
A version of this article was published as How to Work from Home Efficiently Under Quarantine on March 13th, 2020.