With the widespread pandemic and the ensued scramble for social distancing, companies are transitioning to working virtually. For us at Platinum VA, working virtually is how we work and have done so for the past 10 years. While few companies do have a flexi-working and work-from-home policies, the pandemic has pushed many to have all (or most) of their staff work-from-home.
If you are a business leader or a manager currently re-structuring your team and rescheduling work to the 'new-normal' we have put together a list of ideas for you and your team on how to remain productive while working-from-home.
Our team members are posting some additional ideas on our social media channels and you can see them here.
Here are the top 10 tips from Team Platinum VA to manage an effective work-life balance.
1. Have a morning routine:
Working from home means you are not traveling to an office and therefore creating a morning routine is essential. Waking up and preparing 'to-start-work' means we actually dress-up for work. Creating a morning routine of breakfast, spending time with kids and spouse helps settle everything else on hand before focusing on work. Logging in to work 20 mins early than scheduled start-time helps to plan and jumpstart the day.
2. Go to your work-station:
Working from living room couch or bedroom is not a good idea as inevitably you end up feeling lethargic. Assigning a dedicated spot for working allows to create a working environment free of distractions. Ensure there is a power outlet nearby so you do not have to move around. A workstation also helps to sit ergonomically and focus on work.
Having couple of planned breaks in the day – just like the ones in office like water-cooler or lunch breaks – is essential. These breaks help to keep fatigue in check. These breaks also allows to check-in with household chores or with family members.
4. Leverage digital tools:
Staying at home does not mean you are disconnected from the team or your colleagues. There are plethora of digital tools to connect with each other and can be used effectively during social distancing. Team huddles have worked very effectively for us at Platinum VA. It allows colleagues to connect digitally, share ideas or resolve any challenges they may be facing.
5. Communicate, Communicate and Communicate:
When in the remote mode, your voice and digital communication becomes your personality. It is important to communicate effectively and clearly with your colleagues, clients and family members. This can be hard initially as you are not in front of your colleagues or clients. With family members it is important to communicate about your work timings, planned breaks and what to expect even if you are at home with them. With practice and following clear communication style a lot of misunderstandings can be averted.
6. Priority list:
Having a priority list helps to clear those areas which are time-sensitive and important. While at home there can be several distractions that you cannot absolutely run away from. And therefore, a priority list is super helpful.
7. Maintain clear work hours:
Working from home offers additional time on hand as there is no commuting back and forth involved. Maintaining a professional –log-in and log-off times is the key to create a balance. Many of us actually set alarms on the phone to log-in and log-off so we are able to balance professional and personal time appropriately.
8. Connecting with colleagues:
Unlike in office environment where you meet colleagues physically and may chat on non-work areas, in digital or remote working environment there is no such allocated opportunity. Connecting with each other on an informal chat or video calls is a good way to build a rapport. In many large organisations that we serve, connecting with colleagues across the continents is a commonplace for working.
Remaining focused on work tasks is critical. Being at home, one can easily get distracted with household chores too. Allocating distinct work time and chores time is mission critical in this instance. Planned breaks can be used for doing one or two household chores.
Building a culture of trust and accountability makes work-from-home completely reliable. The team leader or manager should plan out communication time with the team and with individuals too. Likewise, the team should be informed of open communication channel with the team leaders and managers. The team members should ask for support when they are stuck without hesitation.
One of our past blog It Takes Two to do the Trust Tango captures top tips on how to build trust.
Platinum VA's entire team is virtual albeit in the same country. Over the past decade, the team has grown from strength to strength which shows that working remotely does not mean that work may be delayed or of poor quality. There are some jobs where working remotely is not an option. With digital economy, increasingly jobs are becoming digitally–enabled which means companies can remain productive if the entire working staff is operating remotely. Designing your life around working remotely takes some work and building rapport with team-mates too. The sudden requirement of social distancing immediately will mean adjusting and once it's done with a plan, it can definitely be the new-normal.