With second lockdown in full effect, we’ve all had to re-embrace and adapt to virtual working. Going fully remote has certainly taught us a lot, balancing a full-time job and educating our children – all whilst attempting to maintain a social life via video. I know for my colleagues and I this hasn’t come without its challenges, but we have learnt along the way and certainly understand now the best practises we should follow to get the most from working from home.
Creating a sense of permanency
It’s so important to set boundaries with your family and whilst I love living in a lively and bustling home, it not always conducive to concentrated working. It’s important to create the right conditions for the task at hand. I’ve found it useful pre-warning the people around me that I need to be left alone to minimise disturbances and reduce the risk of any unnecessary arguments.
Creating a work environment that feels permanent in the state of uncertainty that we are living in at the moment is essential to a productive mindset. One unlikely source of entertainment for me and my colleagues has been the weird and wonderful virtual backgrounds that we have been using whilst connecting remotely. But they do actually serve a useful purpose. I have utilised virtual backgrounds to create a barrier against distractions. It creates a calming, distraction free space and means I don’t have to worry about cleaning up around me!
Cut out meetings where you can
With a fully remote workforce coming into full effect, we’ve found that more virtual meetings are taking place. Employees often find meetings annoying as they break up the working day into smaller parts. In reality, we are most productive when we have uninterrupted time to devote to our tasks.
To counteract this, together, teams should make a conscious effort to draw up a list of meetings. They can then decide which are no longer necessary to attend and means there is no longer a meeting surplus. Not only does this free up our time to get more work done, it also creates a culture of trust and respect.
Benefit from flexibility
In the beginning of the first lockdown, many of us found working remotely meant we were exceeding contractual hours and often working crazy amounts of overtime. Proven further by, a study of 3.1 million remote workers which found that employees’ working days increased, and they attended more — albeit shorter — meetings.
However, this should not be the case. The strict 9-5 regime is now no longer a priority to get maximum output from our teams and we should make the most of the work from home culture and the flexibility that it offers. Whether I start at 7am or 9am it makes no difference as long as the workload is completed.
Compassion for the new normal
Another, perhaps unexpected but nonetheless welcome, side effect of the move to widespread remote work is the outpouring of compassion we have seen for each other.
Our professional and private worlds have collided this year and none of us are used to working with kids, spouses and elderly parents around us. We aren’t used to scheduling meetings in our home offices around the other people who needed it, or sharing internet bandwidth with children doing online coursework or teenagers wanting to facetime their friends. Each of our situations is different and challenging in their own ways and it has meant our colleagues, managers and potential customers are hopefully now more understanding than ever.
Arguably this has been the most important ‘take home’ from this worldwide work from home experiment. Learning to respect our co-workers, understanding that we all face our own challenges and working together to create a more trusting and cohesive workforce, are all working practices that we can take forward regardless of what’s around the corner.
The adjustments that we have all had to make this year should not only be analysed and adapted but celebrated and continued post-lockdown. Employers must recognise that providing flexibility, support and compassion for their employees will only increase motivation, productivity and creativity.
By Mark Strasmann, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Unified Communications & Collaboration at LogMeIn