Working Remotely – Staying Connected While Self-Isolating
For many of us, working from home has been a way of life for quite awhile, but for many, it’s a brand new way of doing things that has been thrust upon them overnight. If you’re in the second category, don’t fret, there are some excellent tools to keep you connected and productive during this time!
First off, you’ll want to ensure you mentally prepare for work to shift into your home. Setting parameters can make a big impact on your success so here are some things to consider:
1. Set yourself a new morning routine and stick to it. Get up, have coffee and a shower, get dressed and don’t forget to eat regular meals and snacks and drink lots of water
2. Block out your calendar the same way you would at the office. Leave time for breaks and keep firm start and end times
3. If possible, set up a dedicated workspace to help with separation of work and home and keep you in a comfortable environment conducive to being productive
4. Get yourself moving! In the office you add up steps in a day going to the copier, getting coffee, walking to meetings, so you’ll want to be careful to get moving when working at home. Go for a walk (keeping a safe distance from others), exercise, garden – whatever you can to keep your body moving
Working from home can also become a bit isolating in the best of times, let alone when most people are not going out at all (and definitely not to socialize), so it’s also important to be mindful of your mental health. During your work day, schedule calls with colleagues and use the video option to chat face to face. Outside of work hours, here are a few more tips to keep your spirits up:
● Tackle items on your to do list that never get done (ie. clean the garage, do light repairs, organize your closets)
● Spend time on your favourite hobby, or try a new one you haven’t had time for
● Arrange calls or remote movie dates with friends and family. Netflix has a new add-on that allows you to watch with other – learn more here
Using this time as an opportunity to catch up and connect can make a real difference in shaping your days and continuing positive momentum.
Staying in contact with your team and providing service continuity for your clients can be really simple with some great tools. Most of these tools are free or offer free to low cost options and there are tons of tutorial videos and supports to get you up to speed on their functionality quickly.
Some great tools for keeping your team connected are:
All of these platforms allow you to make voice and video calls online. You can also share your screen and often collaborate on documents in real time. If your company uses the Google suite of products, Hangouts is already available for you to use. The same goes for those using Outlook, Live, Hotmail and any of the other Microsoft products that includes Teams as part of their offering. Skype is also part of the Microsoft family so your company email address can be used as your login and the integrations are all available.
While Zoom is an independent product, we highly recommend it for larger groups or when you are looking for the most consistent connection. It does require each team member or client to download the plug in though, so this may not work in all organizations.
Another area you may be looking for solutions in is project management. Microsoft Teams can also be a great place to collaborate, chat with and keep track of jobs your team is working on, while some of the other project management software on the market does an excellent job of allowing you to set up and manage duties, workflows and to increase visibility on each team members contributions. A few of our favourites are:
1. Trello – allows you to create boards for project teams, set tasks and move them through the workflow you set up. Team members can be tagged, deadlines set, and checklists provide clarity so everyone knows how a project is progressing at all times
2. Asana – offers similar functionalities to Trello but in a very different format. Personal preference will likely dictate which you like best, as Trello is great for visual people and Asana is great for those who like everything tucked into its place
3. Monday – while Monday does not offer a free option, it is a top choice for many companies because if it’s customization abilities. Some users find it to be a bit more advanced, so it really depends on the needs of your team
Though they are not for project management per se, both the Google Suite and Microsoft office 365 products are excellent for collaboration as well. Both can be used online and are compatible with existing documents. Move files from offline to online and back again to allow for teams to edit, collaborate and move their work forward in a way that keeps everyone involved like they are in the office.
Working from home can be just as effective as being in the office, maybe even more productive at times, if you have the right mindset and tools in place. Have a safe, healthy and productive time working at home!