Who would have thought just a few short weeks ago that most of the country would be forced into social distancing and working remotely? Thankfully, we still have our brave key workers soldiering on through all the panic.

However, if you are like us, and are now working from home, then you have probably noticed a big change in how you get through the working day.

So, part 4 of JDA’s Pandemic Protection Plan is here to help you make the right changes to your workday to ensure your productivity stays where it needs to be.

You can read more about this, or watch the full video below!

Adjusting

Working remotely is not the norm for most businesses. So, the adjustment might have been tough. Thankfully, digital technology offers alternative arrangements for meetings, calls and getting the work done!

But it is harder to communicate with each other. Gone are the days of the team popping into my office to ask a question or five! Which sometimes has its benefits for me at least!

However, don’t forget the softer side of it – people can feel isolated and, indeed, remote. Make sure you keep in touch and make them feel part of the team.

Our team has been working remotely for a while, but never all at the same time! So, it’s different for us as well. But I have been working remotely in one form or another for over 20 years.

So, what are my top tips for you and your team working remotely?

Make sure you have the right infrastructure

Make sure everyone does have the right infrastructure.

When you’re used to working with two screens, it really does hit you efficiency if you have to go back to only using one, so we sent all of the team home with their laptops, monitors and stands so they can set up properly.

We also offered to let them take their office chairs home.

I’m set up nicely here – I have an office table, chair and the two screens. It effectively mirrors my set up in the office so I have no excuses at all!

You also need the right software. Where possible, cloud software is great – we use Xero and QuickBooks for our accounts

There are plenty of systems out there for remote working and keeping on top of workflows, so research the ones that are right for your business and then provide training! Not everyone is going to be a tech-wizard straight away, and some never will be. Provide easy to understand guides for completing basic functions, like sending a Zoom meeting request.

And don’t forget your phones –  make sure they’re on divert! It’s no good having them ringing and ringing in your premises with nobody there to answer them. We also use a call answering service who pick up any calls we might miss.

Have a dedicated space to work

My second tip is to make sure you do have a dedicated space to work in. I work from home quite a lot so I do have a study with a proper work desk and screen.

But, however you do it, you do need a “work” space where you’re comfortable.

It also helps define barriers. I did see someone I know put a post on Linkedin that showed them working on a table in the lounge but their partner had put hazard tape around the couch to stop them slacking!

Set a routine

The next tip is to set a routine.

Firstly, have a morning routine to get going – don’t just sit down in your pyjamas and get working.

It makes sense to have a routine to actually go from being in your home time to work time. Ordinarily it’d be the commute that would do that, but you do need something.

Getting dressed obviously helps. My old business partner actually liked to put on his suit when he worked from home because it got him into work mode. Now, that’s not something that I do, but I absolutely do understand the logic.

Then do set a routine for your day. It can be easy to just stay in bed late, get up and work, but you should be sticking to, where possible, office hours. Again, just to get into that mood and also differentiate between work time and home time.

I’d also put in breaks as well. You do need a break, so plan them. Do take a proper lunch break, especially if your children are at home – go and spend some time with them.

And go for a walk to get away from your desk – even if it is just round the garden.

Plan your tasks each day

The Next one is to make a plan for your tasks for the day.

You’ve got the routine, so how do you fill it? In the office, it’s quite structured. Whereas, at home, it can just kind of blur a little bit.

We have a 9am morning team meeting by video and this helps because we set tasks for everyone to do and report back the day after. It does makes sense to do that.

Stay connected

The next tip is to stay connected, really. Talk to your colleagues. That’s one of the big things that you can miss when working remotely.

When I first worked at home about 20 years ago, I used to do it one day a week or thereabouts, and it was really good. It was a good chance to get your head down without the phone going all the time or interruptions. And it worked really well.

However, when you’re doing it more often, it can be a bit lonely. So, make sure you do talk to your colleagues.

If it’s your business, make sure there is still interaction between team members.

I said we have the morning meeting every day, and we have a WhatsApp group for social chit chat.

But you might want to arrange social things. I know a lot of people who have had quizzes for the team, or perhaps, on a Friday afternoon, stopping and having a virtual beer together. You know, having a video conference where everyone has a beer or a drink and just a little chat before the weekend.

Because you do miss that when you are all in different places.

Although I will not go as far as one of my clients who suggested fancy dress for their calls!

Don’t feel guilty

I think another thing is to not feel guilty. And I think you have to tell your team that as well.

When you work from home, as long as you and your team get the work done, it’s okay to do other things if they aren’t a distraction.

If you’ve got kids, it’s hard not to be disrupted during the day. And because you need to do stuff with them. They need looking after, too.

So put together a routine or the day, accept you might have breaks to do stuff with the kids.

It might be that your nine to five actually goes on slightly longer because you do some stuff with the kids in between. So, let yourself do that.

Let you and your team have some flexibility, as long as the work’s getting done.

And I think, at the end of the day as well, you need a routine to get you back out of work mode and into home mode.

As I said about my old partner. He could change out of his suit at the end of the day. It was that thing of saying, “I’ve now finished work for the day so I’m now on home time”.

So, there you go – there are some of my tips from 20 years of homeworking. I hope you found them useful.

In the next episode, I’ll be talking about communication. To make sure you don’t miss it, please subscribe to our Youtube channel.

Visit our channel and watch this video here.

See you soon.

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