We are passionate about supporting the business community. As a small business ourselves working collaboratively with businesses ranging from freelancers to local hubs of larger organisations, we have first hand experience of the everyday triumphs and challenges faced by business owners and, during these extraordinary times, understand that by working together as a community we can survive this, one of the greatest challenges faced by business in living memory, and thrive once it is over.
Staying connected with a business community where members can share updates, information and experiences is an essential element of business success under normal circumstances and vital during these times when we are forced to work remotely from home, a first time experience for many of us. We have, therefore, set up Slack channels #stayconnected and #freedomworkscommunity where everyone is welcome and all contributions are valued. This, our regular weekly blog, is an opportunity for us to share our experience, information and our advice, gained from first hand experience, that we hope will be useful during this difficult time.
Like many other companies, our team have completed their first week of remote working from home and we thought it would be a great idea to base this week’s blog around how you can remain productive and successful within your remote team at home!
It is inevitable that working from home will come with it’s difficulties but we should be looking at these as challenges and focus on working out solutions for every hurdle that may get in the way.
What are some of these challenges?
We are where we work: Take time to set up your workstation. Find a location where you can minimise distraction (difficult I know with kids off school and spouses/partners/family all vying for space!). Ensure that you have all of the tools you need and try to find a supportive chair and seating position to avoid back pain. Remember that, if you are video conferencing, you need to present an image that people are familiar with whether this is formal or more relaxed, this is what your colleagues and business contacts will be expecting. Create a background in Zoom that you are happy to share - your bedroom might not be the best one!
Being productive: During this period of time there may be fewer reactive type tasks, particularly if you are a customer service focused team as we are where a large part of our day-to-day activity is responding to member and sales enquiries. Take the initiative and forward plan. Think about all of those tasks which you typically do not have time to complete in the office but will really make your job easier and more efficient when things return to normal. Plan what you want to achieve and schedule activities into your calendar that help you to progress toward your new goal.
Team meetings: It may seem trickier to get that team spirit whilst you are all in different locations but with the great assistance of modern world technology and apps such as Zoom, Google Hangout and Slack, it has never been easier to virtually connect to your team. It is important that, aside from a business meet up, you check in on the wellbeing of your colleagues during this uncertain time. It is key to remember that different people have different levels of need for social interaction.
Planning and time management: Naturally working from home may disrupt the routine of your typical working day but it is essential for any business to progress throughout this uncertain time by setting projects with alternative outcomes and new deadlines. How can you do this? You can use several apps such as Google Calendar and Trello Boards to organise and prioritise tasks, ensuring you are getting the most out of every working day.
Trust and transparency: In order for any business to succeed both at home and in the office, a great level of trust and patience is required between colleagues and your managers.. You must take regular screen breaks and allow extra time for meetings due to wifi bandwidths. If your team members have been great team players in the office it is very likely that this can do attitude will follow them in their home environment but they may require a little more support and encouragement to help them to succeed. From a management perspective this is the perfect opportunity to see who really steps up to the plate and is responsible in the team without needing consistent micro management.
Work/Life Balance: This is a very important one. Even though our movements and activities are limited, try to set boundaries for yourself. Work when you are at your optimum levels of productivity and take regular breaks for exercise and relaxation. The temptation when working from home is either to be distracted by routine household activities and run out of productive working time or, conversely, to work day and night, especially when you are anxious about the future, and not consider your physical, emotional and mental health. Schedule breaks into your day-to-day planning and decide on when you will start and finish your working day.
Regular exercise: We all know that physical activity is great for our mental and physical health. Whether this is a walk (while we are still able to) in the park whilst social distancing, a run, cycle ride or an online class (too many options to mention here - just google them), it is important to schedule this in to your daily plan..
Stay connected: This situation is likely to last for at least 3 months and the connections that you maintain with colleagues, business contacts and your family and friends will be a lifeline for them and also for yourself. If you have spare time, be generous and offer the hand of friendship to a neighbour, a friend or a stranger who will really benefit from your assistance, even if this is only a phone call to check in with them. When this is over, all acts of generosity and kindness will be remembered and will forge connections that, when this is over, will last a lifetime.
In the words of our Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunack:
‘When this is over - and it will be over - we want to look back on this moment and remember the small acts of kindness done by us and to us.’
Essential tools we would recommend for the home worker:
-Trello Boards- The perfect virtual planner. This app allows you to checklist a task, set deadlines and categorise each project under headings such as ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’ and ‘Ice Bucket’ and is extremely easy to follow. You can look at your calendar view for the week and check off each deadline as the project is completed.
-Slack-The perfect application to bring your community, clients and team together.
-Google Drive, Calendar and Hangouts- Google Drive stores files in safely and securely in the cloud without the fear that they may be lost which is particularly important in the remote working situation.
-Zoom- Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars. This is perfect for training sessions, team catch ups and vital to maintain social interactions. With many features such as the ability to mute and unmute, design your own background and invite large numbers of participants, Zoom is the perfect solution for successful meetings and training opportunities.
*Did you know that...Being a member of Freedom Works entitles you to a network of more than 1,500 like-minded business people and a variety of different virtual events during this uncertain time? Last week we hosted our first ever Virtual Free Beer Friday and it was a great success so become a member today and jump on these social opportunities!*