With changing lifestyles and business requirements, technology has evolved allowing remote working to not just be a pipe dream, but an achievable, positive experience for both companies and remote workers alike. Whether the goal is greater workplace flexibility, outsourcing to sole traders or having teams located around the world, the positives of remote working can far outweigh the challenges with just a little forethought and planning.
Before getting into the fun stuff of planning, setting up, and decorating your home workspace, there are a few things which need to be considered:
The challenges of working from home:
- Trust, communication gaps, productivity, management expectations versus reality, effective time management, and lack of interpersonal connection are all potential challenges to successful remote working.
- Upfront and clear communication of what is expected from the client or company can alleviate much of the stress around working from home. Structured agreements on items like hours of work, scheduled weekly catch-ups, the use of technology tools, and clear, written work deadlines and delivery goals can help to make sure communication is clear.
Large corporates may require signed contracts covering everything from home office work attire, data security to health and safety aspects to ensure they are covered by their corporate insurance.
Home office setup
Your home office needs to be a productive, quiet workspace which is free from distractions, preferably with a door that can be closed.
Fast, reliable internet, a desk (standing or seated) and a supportive chair if you aren’t using a standing desk are a must, along with, a computer, laptop or tablet. Amenities like airflow, heating and air conditioning also need to be considered to keep you comfortable whilst working.
If your home is too small, not suitable or you are more productive around other people, co-working spaces are popping up everywhere and usually offer a monthly contract at a discounted rate – usually internet, a desk, and coffee are included. Something to note here is whether your contract allows working from public spaces as this has implications regarding open networks, email encryptions and security.
IT tools and technologies
From a good computer, laptop or tablet, wireless printer or scanner to time management and communication tools, investing in good, reliable IT tools will not only ensure that working from home is productive and seamless but will also create a more positive, less frustrating experience.
Interpersonal communications tools: Regular communication and meetings keep people in different locations engaged and connected. These tools may also help with miscommunication and keeping a record of what was said in a meeting. It is important if you should wish to record a meeting to advise the people in the meeting that you are recording it. Some tools which help with this are:
- Microsoft teams: A group chat tool which is private and secure and helps you to keep in touch with colleagues.
- Zoho: This tool offers a variety of software suites to keep your colleagues and clients remain connected.
- Slack: An information and chat tool which helps colleagues to share details and documents about the different projects they are working on.
- Zoom: An online webinar platform which is free for the first 45 minutes. This is a cost-effective way to have team meetings with the best talent from anywhere in the world.
- Skype: A messaging tool which helps you to have great one-on-one conversations with your clients or should you need to hold one-on-one meetings with your employees.
Enabling and allowing remote working has become a necessity in all business sizes and has the power to make collaborating easier and grow business productivity beyond conventional ways of working.