The spread of coronavirus and the rise in COVID-19 cases worldwide has led to increased challenges in every aspect of our interconnected world. As the world comes to grips with our “new normal”, more people than ever are working from home and dealing with an ever-changing reality.
Even before this global health crisis struck, companies have become more comfortable and accepting of remote working. In the past decade, technology has become so advanced that pretty much anyone can fulfill their everyday tasks at home. Stats on working from home show that this type of work has expanded 10 times faster than other areas of the workforce. Today 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) currently work-at-home half-time or more [Global Workplace Analytics].
The social distancing and other countermeasures within many communities are beginning to prove that many jobs can be performed in a remote environment, however, it can also present challenges to the ways we work as individuals and collaborate as teams. Luckily, the B2B SaaS industry is one that has allowed for remote positions before many others so it’s a topic that we have a high level of experience with.
Remote work is not the future, it’s already here and it’s here to stay because we operate in a global economy, and technology allows for workers to do many tasks virtually. As more and more companies start to accept this new normal, we’ll all need to get a lot better at communicating, staying on the same page, and being organized. The current coronavirus pandemic is just driving home just how vital this lesson is. That said, Keen put together some of our best work from home tips we think will help you and your teams become better virtual workers.
1. Create a dedicated space for your office
This is a consistent tip we’ve seen from our team. Make sure that you have a dedicated workspace that, if possible, is away from your daily “life”. When working from home, distractions can be everywhere! A dedicated “office space” helps to limit distractions while working, but it also ensures there are boundaries between your personal and work activities.
This doesn’t mean you can’t “change it up” throughout the day though. Feel free to enjoy some fresh air and take a call outside when needed. Whatever your routine is throughout your day (more on that later), keeping work and home separate can be a game-changer.
2. Create a routine that makes sense for you!
When you work from home, it can feel like you’re “always on.” As humans, we are creatures of habit! Try to start and end your day at regular intervals that make sense for you. Are you an early-morning workout person? Make sure you get up, get dressed, and get some exercise in before you want to start your day. Make sure your colleagues know roughly when you will start and end your day. Some teams (Like Keen) like to start their days with a virtual standup where everyone can check-in, get on the same page, and get charged up for a day of distributed work!
3. Turn on your camera and join calls with video
Having face-to-face personal connections is probably the thing people miss the most when they work from home. Video calls aren’t the same as connecting in-person, but you can get some of the benefits of meetings and chats by flipping on your computer’s camera.
Being able to see someone’s face and read facial expressions leads to increased engagement and understanding. The little quirks of life that happen when you work from home can create more personal connections with your team.
Virtual meetings are incredibly effective because everyone has an equal voice at the virtual table.
4. Automate with productivity tools, and share when necessary
Workforce tools like Asana, Slack, and Notion are keys not just for project management and communication, but can also help you collaborate at a distance with your team. But these grease tools only work if you use them. We suggest you pick the task-management process that works for you: do you check every morning and evening? Make sure to update Asana stuff every time you do a task? Do you set your Slack status so your team knows when you are in a meeting, on a call, or at lunch?
Whatever your personal protocol is, make sure your various workforce tools are set up with all relevant team members and that you are still using them effectively, wherever you are. The centralized virtual environment should be the same whether you work from home regularly or go into an office.
Permissions for documents and data sources are an extremely important part of keeping your remote working experience smooth and effective. If you are collaborating remotely via GoogleDocs, Microsoft Teams, or another platform, make sure you know who has the keys to giving everyone (you, your team, external collaborators) access to the documents and folders you need to do your job.
5. Create a virtual water-cooler
Another missed opportunity when people work from home is the casual connections people make with colleagues and team members around the office. Grabbing a cup of coffee or a snack or just waiting for the elevator are all little moments we use to bond as groups, away from our specific tasks.
Reach out to a few people every day to connect on a personal level. Who haven’t you talked to in a bit? Let them know that you are thinking of them and that you value your relationship: Ask for a recipe. Send a photo of your dog. Share an article that made you think of them, start an Instagram fitness group…. Anything works. Another fun idea that Keen has implemented is a virtual happy hour. It gives you time to disconnect from work and keep your team bond going. With less office serendipity, you need to create your own connections to stay top of mind.
The most important thing to remember is that we are all in this together. You can build a strong team from anywhere, and hopefully, this collection of tips has given you some inspiration for your own work from home journey. So whether this is temporary for you or you are a full-time remote worker, using your communications tools, keeping up relationships, and creating a routine that works for you are all vital elements of building a successful work from home program.