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Making remote working, work!

Making remote working, work!

I started writing this piece with returners in mind – at an already unsettling time of new routines, the added complexity of Coronavirus is feeling a bit overwhelming for many people I’m talking to. What it’s actually turned into is something much more general and across the board that I hope will help put some practical thoughts into the new approaches we’re inevitably about to adopt in workplaces across the globe. 

So here’s my input on making remote working, well, work! 

  1. The importance of being tech-ready

If you’re returning to work there are likely to be IT and security processes that need to be followed anyway, but knowing what kit you’re likely to need is a different question. Figuring out if you can use your own devices to access internal systems or if you need company provided laptops / tablets etc is a great place to start. It’s something really practical and hopefully simple, but finding ways of getting a bit of clarity over an ambiguous situation is a great start point. There’s also an opportunity to see if you need any upskilling on virtual meeting software or new systems since you were last in the business as well – again, a lot of these things can be done virtually so there’s no need to think you have to muddle through with guess work!

2. Boundaries

They’re always a talking point, but even more so if you’re transitioning to consistently working from home. We’re going to be surrounded by news headlines about the state of the economy, the impact on businesses and jobs, so we need to be aware of the potential impact that could have on our own behaviours. It’s tempting to start thinking we should be working as much as possible, delivering the numbers and excelling at our goals in case we need to justify our roles but I strongly believe that will lead to nothing more than burnout. We have to deal with what we know – start and end times are a good thing and working in chunks of time has proven positive impact on our outputs (The Pomodoro method is a favourite of mine). It’s also time to check your boundaries when it comes to devices – are your eyes flicking between a laptop, tablet, work phone, personal phone, back to a laptop on the regular? Maybe now is a good time to visit your habits around how you’re accessing information and working with tech. 

3. Expectations

The volume of remote working that we believe is about to kick in is going to be new to so many of us, so we all need to consider what our expectations are of ourselves and others. Line managers and business leaders who are used to office-based working are going to have a lot to learn when it comes to running teams, as are employees – we’re all going to be on the journey (not a big fan of that overused word but it’s the best I’ve got!) together so contracting up front about what we expect from each other is going to be an essential. If you’ve always been in a bricks and mortar place of work, suddenly going to remote working might bring some feelings of loneliness and isolation, so I’d encourage you to keep talking, put in the calls to colleagues and interact with people in a safe way. 

4. Nourish

I’m definitely not encouraging stockpiling – that’s a post for another day, so all I’ll say is taking more than we need is dangerous. We do however need to keep fed and watered, so thinking ahead as much as possible to accommodate more eating at home than you perhaps would normally. There are some great meal suggestions on supermarket apps, pinterest and other social media platforms to give you some inspiration. A favourite of mine on Instagram is @fridgefallout who shares some brilliant ideas particularly using up leftovers.

5. Breaks

Wherever you work taking a break is important isn’t it? How we take a break is personal to us, or at least I believe so. There’s no point getting prescriptive and saying to somebody that they ‘must’ get some fresh air or do some exercise if how they really want to spend some time away from their work is with a brew and 10 minutes on the sofa. We know that getting out / away from what we’re working on is important though, so however you define a ‘break’ it’s time to figure out where you’re going to factor them into your day. 

6. Celebrate and share

In this new world we need to showcase what’s working well and celebrate it, because you never know who might need some inspiration. It’s important at any time, but particularly when we’re going through lots of change – hold up the people testing new ways of working, even if it doesn’t go to plan let’s recognise those giving it a go. 

We know the world can’t (and won’t) stop turning, we have to carry on with a new normal. Heads are definitely spinning – not least the retailers who will be annualising against these sales next year! Whilst our approach to work is changing, we can bring some consistencies with us and take the opportunity to forge new habits when it comes to operating as more flexible businesses. 

If you’ve got any tips or advice for people who are about to increase their volume of remote working, please let me know and I’d love to share them across all of the Power of the Parent channels. 

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