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How to get the most out of working from home during COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing us to rethink how we work, and how we work in a way that still feels collaborative. 

As many companies now suggest (or require) employees work from home, we wanted to share our recommendations on how to remain productive and maintain a team environment (albeit, virtually!). 

Working from home can be daunting in this era of social distancing, but it doesn't have to be. For those who are not used to working at home or who don’t have an organised work station, distractions can disrupt your productivity. You’re in your personal space, not your usual professional environment and with that, your other life admin kicks in... washing needs to be done, dishwasher loaded and the house cleaned; dare we say, Netflix is calling your name? You are social distancing with a partner or roommate who's behaviors aren't in sync with your most productive way of working.

On the other hand, you could be the person who since being at home 24/7, find yourself working into the night and not sticking to the office hours you would have if you were commuting into an office.

To help with this, try following some of these helpful steps (and share your own with us!) to find a way that feels purposeful and productive: 

1. Set your working hours, have a plan, and stick to it

Depending on whether your company has set the working hours from home, this is a chance for you to work in the hours that you're most productive. If you're a morning hour, you might want to get up early and start working straight after your morning coffee; if you're an evening owl, then you can sleep in the extra hour and use the night when you're most productive. 

If you are setting hours, stick to the plan. 

It can be really helpful to visualise your day by writing down how you're blocking out hours of the day.

Remember to schedule in breaks; this will mean you have something to work towards but also stops those distractions sneaking in that will pull you away from your work. 

woman on video call with headphones


2. We're in this together

We're lucky to be working in a time where it's never been easier to stay connected online; software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack, are helping teams work together and motivate each other, whether that's through group video conference calls, or sharing in each others successes over team chats. 

To help fill the socialising gap while working remotely, find a colleague you can contact when you’re feeling the need to chat with someone. Alternatively, partner up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call instead of Slack or text isn’t a bad idea, either.


3. Create an environment around you that promotes productivity 

Step 1, get dressed!
Genuinely, it's tempting to stay in PJ's but those of us who are used to working from home can safely say that changing out of your PJs helps you decipher between the working day and your downtime. 

Step 2, find a space to cultivate as your workspace
Whether you have an office space or not, find a place that you can work from that ideally, isn't your bed or your sofa... This will help you to get in the workday mindset and a place to clear away at the end of the day so that you're not blurring the lines more than they need to be. 

Step 3, leave distractions at the door 
This is tricky, especially as you might be working around other people who are self-isolating or social distancing; be flexible but also communicate on how you work best - if your partner loves music, for example, but you need quiet, ask them to wear headphones! 

4. How are you communicating with each other?

It is important to go beyond email and use other digital tools that can better replicate the in-person office experience and provide for clear communication.

The sense of isolation can be exaggerated if communication within teams isn't being promoted. Chat apps like Slack, or Microsoft Teams, and videoconferencing services like Zoom offer that sense of interaction that email doesn't.

Screen-sharing is another way of getting people on the same page when they're not in the same room as you. If you're all able to look at the same thing, feedback is easier to share and ideas can be bounced around in realtime. 

Harvard Business School’s Prithwiraj “Raj” Choudhury, who studies remote work and the relationships between geography and productivity, found an interesting solution to boosting camaraderie among remote workers: pizza parties. While researching remote work habits at the U.S. Patent Office — which implemented a more robust “work from anywhere” policy in 2011 — Choudhury discovered a manager who hosted weekly lunches via video conferencing.

“She would order the exact same pizza to be delivered at the same time so the team would have that bonding experience and still feel like a team,” says Choudhury. “This is the future of work, so we cannot just keep doing stuff in the old familiar ways, we have to create new processes.”*

digital drawing of man working from home


​5. Remember everyone works differently

Not every person actually wants to work from home, and this can be a stressful time for some. As companies increasingly mandate that many employees must work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s key to communicate how you're feeling with your manager. 

For employers, it's important to be giving employees as much information as possible can ease the burden caused by the disruption.

Many companies are not fully prepared for remote work. "One good thing that will come from this situation is that it will encourage employers to leverage their remote-work technology or invest in it in the first place," Albarado said. "Hopefully, people will get more comfortable with these practices, and it will expand the opportunity for flexibility in the workplace—that's one of the top things we see candidates get excited about."

iCIMS Director of Talent Acquisition Amy Warner agreed, noting that "remote work is not a passing phase, and virtual recruiting solutions are critical for the future of work. Current events give us an opportunity to build out best practices and stress-test remote capabilities and the way we connect with candidates. There's a strong sense of candidate appreciation when you show concern for their health, schedule or family situation."*


*time.com 


If you have any questions on best practices for working from home, please get in touch at hello@spherelondon.co.uk


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