Unless you have been living under a rock these past weeks, you will know that the new strain of Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been spreading through the world. Governments, employers and school leaders have all been taking decisions that will hopefully lead to the slowdown of the rampant spread of COVID-19.
In this past week alone, I have been asked countless times "Are you still working?" My answer always is: "Of course, for me it's business as usual for my work is completely virtual. I can continue my job uninterrupted and provide the same support to our clients without any disruption". That is the beauty of working remotely while being in the same region as our clients.
So, what happens when you work remotely?
The situation is similar to what we have seen in the past week with UAE schools. All schools will remain closed for the next 4 weeks. Education for all children must go on. How does this happen? Simple, we turn to technology, apps and cloud data storage! Children will continue their education uninterrupted, albeit with some small lifestyle adjustments to match their new "home schooling" routine.
Why not adopt this way of thinking with our jobs and careers? The world continues to go on and so does business. In fact, now more than ever business needs to keep going to help support local economies. Some employers are offering flexi-working hours or indeed the opportunity to work from home entirely. Sadly, not all employers are set up and ready to work remotely. According to the recent survey by Gulf Talent, a large number of companies in the Gulf region have not yet planned to work-from-home.
Be efficient and productive
The secret to working remotely and being productive is the lack of distractions. Switching from a busy office to working alone from home can be a distraction in itself for some. Maybe you miss the chit chat of co-workers, maybe the fridge is just a little too close (is it lunchtime yet?), maybe you are the opposite and are just not drawing that line between work and personal home life clear enough. Whatever the case is, working remotely takes some getting used to and is a skill in itself that one must learn.
So how do you manage to work remotely?
Communication takes on a whole new meaning. When I speak to clients and team members, I need to make sure my communication is clear and without ambiguity. Not being able to talk face to face means my written language or my spoken language over the phone needs to be clear and crisp. It is completely acceptable in today's working world to communicate via WhatsApp. This is a fantastic tool which has revolutionised virtual work. The usage of voice note messaging really help when a longer or more details message needs to be conveyed.
In today's world we do not need to sit in an office from 9 to 5. As the next generation workforce are already demonstrating, virtual learning and virtual working is the future.
Okay and what about managing time, delivery schedule, co-ordinating with other team members?
Let's look at each of them, one at a time. So time management is straight forward. Like an office job we log in on time as office hours and finish at the end of office hours. So our clients have access to the Platinum VA team between 9 am to 6 pm throughout the weekdays.
Scheduling support, like I mentioned above happens over a battery of digital tools and if the client has changes or questions it can be modified digitally too.
The best part is about working together as a team, over the past 10 years, we have grown strength to strength and we ensure that each new member understands our working culture. We 'e-meet at the coffee vending machine' on messengers or on the phone, if the need be or also meet up once a month for training or recreational purposes.
Working from home or remotely can work if the company culture is that of trust and support. This is one of Platinum VA's guiding tenet.
Working efficiently from home takes practise too and we have seen companies around the world adopting remote working policies. It has its pros and cons and that will have to be another blog post.
Zainab Hussein, a virtual executive assistant at Platinum VA has shares about working from home in her role as a Virtual Executive Assistant here.
For now, amidst the COVID-19 scare, working from home is a great way to reduce the mass-spread of the virus and like the schools in UAE, the corporate sector must also put policies in place to allow employees to remain productive. And of course, you are welcome to chat with us to know how we work remotely to ensure the productivity of our clients improves.