In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many employers have been prompted to take the precautionary measure to ensure the safety and health of their staff, by now allowing them to work from home. For some, this will only be a temporary situation, but the transition is nevertheless an adjustment that requires a few tweaks to ensure you maintain productivity.
While I have been juggling both my twin daughters and working from home for close to 18 months now, my colleagues are newbies to remote work.
So, here’s a guide I’ve put together extracting from my own experience and hopefully these tips will prove useful to both my team and the rest of you who have been given the option to work remotely.
Establish a suitable space to setup your workstation – This can literally be anywhere you feel will allow you to work relatively undisturbed while getting proper lighting and airflow. Whether it be your sunroom or a nook in your room you have dedicated to a work area, ensure you have enough light and preferably set up shop near a window for fresh air. Unlike the office, many of our homes don’t have aircon. You may need a fan for additional cooling on hot days. Another one of the most important aspects is setting up where there are power points or where you are close enough to connect a lead. You need easy access to a plug if you quickly need to charge your PC or your phone.
Ensure you have all the tools of your trade – Think of it as literally transferring your desk contents to your home office. One of the most important items in my opinion, is a good chair. If you don’t have an office chair or couldn’t bring the one from your work home, then try to find a chair in the house that will provide as much back support and comfortable seating as possible. My desk décor includes sticky notes, a white chalkboard and even my fake pastel peach coloured flowerpot (somehow this pretty, plastic plant makes me smile). You want to be equipped to work effectively and have the tools to both physically and mentally keep you working despite your bed and couch only steps away. If it means moving your coffee machine right next to your home desk so you don’t have to walk all the way to the kitchen, then do what works for you.
Have more than one networking platform to maintain regular contact with your colleagues – At home, you can’t just shout over your laptop to *Andrew or *Patricia in the cubicle next to yours. You must now pop a message via the web and patiently await a response. Ensure you and your colleagues are technologically linked. It can either be a WhatsApp group or platforms like Skype or a Microsoft Team group. Have your superiors or fellow team member you always seek advice from, or who you need to give you a go-ahead, available on more than one online platform so you can contact them quickly when the need arises.
Keep a contact list of your go-to IT personnel – I found this very beneficial, especially when first navigating the remote working world. It often requires a call to a technician to assist you to ensure connectivity from your email to the company intranet or if you encounter a technical glitch.
Write key information down as backup – The digital realm is one that often has some of us forgetting what a pen even looks like. Everything can be done at the rapid succession of our fingertips. But when working from home, a strong recommendation is to have a notebook with all key usernames, passwords and any other contact numbers and detail you may require written down should you misplace your virtual notepad perhaps stored in the drafts of your email (so guilty of this I am), or your iPad or phone.
Take caution when using Social Media – With no prying colleagues’ eyes around coupled with the fact that you are in your own home where you’re free to do as you wish, you may be tempted to spend more time on Facebook or browsing the world wide web of Instagram or your favourite sites. Be careful of posting updates during what’s still regarded as your official working hours. For example, a check-in at a location which also doubles up as proof your boss could take a screenshot of when you are supposed to be at your home workstation, could land you in serious hot water.
Keep your tech tools charges & make provision to have enough Data on standby – Aside from the Coronavirus pandemic, our country is still facing a power supply crisis. Try to ensure all equipment that needs charging is charged. For those utilising their home internet, remember that your area could be hit with load shedding at any point in time so ensure that you have enough data in the event of having to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.
Clean your workspace regularly – Even when I was in the office, I often ate at my desk. With no in-house company cleaner to rely on to polish my desk and leave my work area pristine, I need to take time out to do it myself. With hygiene being crucial as a prevention measure to curb and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, even your remote workstation needs to be kept clean and hygienic. Give your workstation and all desk items that require a good wipe down every now and then and keep a hand sanitizer within reach.
Now is the time for us all to unite to fight this pandemic which has gripped the world leaving many of us fearful and panicked. It is a tricky and difficult time but the Datafin team supports the global message that we each need to do our bit to stay safe and encourage one another by staying positive.