Working from home is no longer just a fairy tale; it is a reality for many people worldwide. Even though the recent COVID-19 pandemic brought remote work into the spotlight, many businesses have been “ahead of their time” for years now. But now that most of the planet got a taste of the digital nomads’ lifestyle, we can only assume that more and more people will opt to (or at least have the option to) work from home in the future. If you haven’t gotten the taste of what working remotely is like yet and feel you’re unprepared for it, don’t worry; you’re in the right place! Let’s go ahead and teach you how to prepare for remote work.
Before we get to the preparation part, we should address any concerns you might have about working from home. Most of you are likely thinking: “What concerns? Are you insane? Working from home sounds awesome!” Yes, we agree, but not everyone’s the same. Some people just can’t handle the isolation part of working remotely or are incapable of managing their time adequately. And let’s not forget the challenges employers might face with remote workers. After all, managing and onboarding remote employees is an undertaking in and of itself.
However, we’ve prepared some advice on how to prepare for remote work for both employees and business owners. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Before you decide to hire remote workers or allow your employees to do their jobs from home, you should do a few things to make sure everything runs smoothly:
Let’s address these points in more detail!
Regardless of whether you’re taking on full-time remote workers or giving your employees some leeway regarding their workplace, you, as a business owner, must provide them with all the necessary equipment to do their jobs.
A quick disclaimer — we understand you can’t quite buy your remote team from across the globe new PCs. But you can (and should) give them all the necessary software. And if you can’t do that, it’s your duty as an employer to compensate them for purchasing it themselves.
When your workers are in-office but have the option to take their work home, it’s a whole different story. If your company is worth its salt, you will provide your employees with the necessary hardware as well.
If you trust your employees enough to give them leeway of working remotely, you should trust them enough when it comes to gear. So providing them with the necessary equipment shouldn’t be a matter of if but when.
We shouldn’t have to emphasize how vital security is to any business. And no, you are not safe even if you’re a small company. Research has shown that 43% of cyber attacks are directed toward small businesses. With that in mind, making sure you’re on top of your security game is essential.
But how do you approach security when it comes to remote work? That indeed poses a more significant challenge since your workers won’t have anyone from your security team at their disposal. Also, if the nature of your job requires accessing your company’s servers remotely, that poses an even higher risk. Luckily, there are some precautionary measures you can take to minimize the risk of a security breach:
These are some of the most common and easiest-to-set-up methods of enhancing your security in remote job environments. If you apply these methods to up your company’s online safety, you should minimize any potential risks of security breaches.
When you’re at the office, you can monitor people’s progress and effort since you’re in the same room, but that becomes a challenge once you start dealing with remote workers. What if employees start slacking off or take extended breaks? What if they wander around their house instead of working or take a nap? That is where time tracking software can help you!
These programs are designed to monitor whether your employees are actively working and will undoubtedly increase productivity. Essentially, the software measures the users’ activity on their PCs and takes note of extended periods of inactivity. Each program is different, though, but these are the core principles behind all of them. All you’ll have to do is get your remote workforce to install these on their computers, connect to your company’s servers, and start the timer when they begin working.
Here are a few popular time tracking tools you can use to monitor your remote team:
There are many more different programs with various functionalities that you might find helpful as well. So if none of these suit you, you’re sure to find a perfect fit with a quick Google search or two.
Communication is key to running a successful business. That is why having an instant way to communicate with your remote team is essential. Distance and lack of coordination can significantly impact a team’s performance, which is why you must make sure it doesn’t happen.
Indeed, you will never achieve the level of communication you would have in an office environment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get as close to it as possible! Luckily, with the latest developments in video and streaming technology, some programs can help you circumvent this issue.
You can improve internal communications with video conferencing software like Zoom or other programs like Slack and Skype. These are the perfect collaboration tools to help bridge that communication gap between you and your remote team members.
Last but not least, you should take a different approach to delegating work than you would in a face-to-face environment. But what do we mean by that?
When working from home, your only means of communication will depend on whether the person you’re looking to talk to is at their computer when you need them. In an office, you could ask others about their whereabouts or walk around looking for them. But when managing a remote team, all you can do is wait patiently. That works both ways!
If one of your employees finishes their task and needs another one, they will (or should) contact you. But what if you aren’t at your PC at the time? That would be a lot of wasted time for your worker and, thus, a waste of the company’s money.
So, a good practice when managing a remote team would be to delegate extra work in advance to minimize your employees’ potential downtime. That is the best way to optimize workflow, and it will also help save yourself some time too!
Employers aren’t the only ones who can help make the entire process of working remotely smooth. Now let’s see what employees can do to prepare for remote work on their end to maximize performance:
Let’s check these out!
Humans are creatures of habit, and that includes our working habits as well. That means if you change your everyday routine suddenly, your work might pay the price. The simplest example would be the time you wake up. If you were to suddenly, let’s say, sleep longer every day since you’ve changed to a work-from-home routine, you risk running into problems.
Although an extra hour of sleep might seem beneficial, if you introduce that change so suddenly, your body won’t be accustomed to it, which could result in your feeling even more tired. That would likely impact your performance at work. But that is not all — if you stick to your usual routine, you will condition your brain to prepare for work, which will ensure your output doesn’t suffer.
We know you’d like nothing better than to stay in your pajamas the whole day, but, believe it or not, that’s highly counterproductive. By waking up and putting your work clothes on, you can immediately get into your regular work mindset. If you stay in your comfy pajamas the whole day, it might affect your concentration and, thus, performance. Don’t underestimate the power of conditioning!
This point should be self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many people disregard it. Some of the most common problems remote workers face are a plethora of distractions. Whether it’s pets demanding attention, children shouting and making a mess, or housemates being inconsiderate and playing loud music or shouting, you will have to take that into account.
If you have children around, find a babysitter or drop them off at your parents’ place; if your pet won’t stop bugging you, close the door to your home office and lock it; if you’re living with someone, inform them on time that you’ll be working and that you’ll need peace and quiet.
And if all else fails, you can always escape to some quiet corner of your favorite café and work from there. Just make sure to take care of this issue ahead of time, not after being well into your workday.
“How can one get too comfortable?” you may ask. If you lean back into your massage chair and put it in high gear, do you think you’re going to get any work done? Probably not!
We know that few of you can even afford a massage chair, but you get the point. If you begin your workday in a comfy leather sofa or, even worse, your bed, you are more likely to fall asleep then get any work in.
So please, don’t do it!
If there’s a power cut at the office, you’re all in the same pickle. But if you’re working from home and lose electricity, you’re boned. That is just an example of an unforeseen circumstance that might impede your work. But how can you deal with such scenarios? It’s quite simple — plan ahead.
We know you can’t install a backup generator in your home just for an off chance that the power goes out during your workday. However, there are things you can do to prevent such scenarios or at least minimize downtime. In this particular case of a power cut, you can begin by informing yourself if there are any scheduled power outages in your neighborhood. Also, you should always have a place to go to, such as a favorite bar or coffee shop, should you encounter any similar unfortunate scenarios.
You know what they say — better safe than sorry!
As you can see, adapting to the newly popular remote-work lifestyle isn’t all that challenging. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, you too can prepare for remote work without much hassle. So why not embrace this growing trend and give working from home a shot?
Until next time!