Given the current worldwide situation, where most of us had to quickly adapt to fully working from home, we’re posting our company’s guide to full remote work, particularly in a quarantine environment. Sharing is caring! If you have your own tips on optimising work from home, go ahead and share them in the comments!
? ? Communication And Work Efficiency
- Check in with your manager and team. The main difference between remote and in-person teams is communication. Check in on each other daily on Slack or your internal chat system of choice, even if just to see how it’s going. For brainstorming, strategic conversations, one-on-one meetings, or all-team meetings, video chats work best, so be prepared to use Zoom, Hangouts, or any other video call software as well. At SiteGround, for example, we started having weekly all-hands video chats, hosted by our co-founder and CEO, that are mostly just to check in with everyone, not strictly work-related.
- Set up team collaboration slack channels. If you don’t already have a channel dedicated to your own team, set one up. Ongoing chatter and sharing will become more important when everyone is WFH (work from home).
- Spend more time clarifying objectives and direction. Communication is often less understood over slack. Double check that you understand any task you get and its requirements correctly. Specifically align with your manager on what their expectations are, and don’t be afraid to ask questions at any point, until you feel certain you understand what’s needed.
- Over-communicate status updates. A lot of visibility is lost when you’re not together. Make up for this by over-communicating updates, even when you think it might not be necessary.
- Build trust, rapport and reliability. If you can’t deliver something on time or have doubts/issues, communicate early and proactively.
- Your time and attention is everything. In a situation where writing communication will increase, it’s important to set work rules and hours in which to focus on your own tasks. Again, communicate this clearly to your teammates by setting the corresponding status in Slack (or any internal comms system that you use) or disable notifications altogether. For some things, quiet time is better. For brainstorming, strategic conversations, tough conversations, one-on-one meetings, or all-team meetings, video chats work best.
?? Keep Rocking! (Online)
- Culture doesn’t build in the same way as in the office. Мake an effort to engage with your teammates online, as you would have done in the office, be proactive about suggesting online team or home activities to do at the same time – anything that you think would lift your team spirit.
- Tone doesn’t always translate in writing. So whenever possible in informal written communication, use emojis to help convey your tone and intent ?. A good GIF gives you double points.
- Consider daily calls with your teammates. Get together online as a team more than you normally would. Have lunch or an afternoon coffee with a colleague using Zoom, Slack calls, or Google Hangout.
?? Wellness – Combating Isolation
- Try to follow a regular work schedule. Part of maintaining your productivity at home means keeping the same mindset as if you were going to the office. So don’t overwork, or stay late, and change out of those pyjamas!
- Take 5: be sure to take clear breaks away from your working area during the day. Have a look outside, do a quick exercise routine, or even a little dance! Setting aside some time to get fresh air and a bit of exercise can go a long way in keeping you focused and healthy!
- Avoid constantly checking the news and only seek information to take practical steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Set specific times just once or twice a day to check the news, the constant stream of information about an outbreak can cause you to feel worried or overwhelmed, and this does not help anyone.
- Quarantine is not synonymous with isolation – while we encourage you to avoid congested areas and limit exposure, taking a walk in the park on your own, or even a brief cup of coffee on the balcony is still OK, as long as you don’t touch anything, and keep your distance from other people.
- Create and take advantage of online chat channels where you can just joke or blow off steam. A #watercooler channel is a good example. You could start or join a channel for all the #bookworms on your team. Why not even start a book club, like we have at SiteGround? You could also start sharing your home-made food masterpieces (or fails) in a #foodies channel, like we do on the SiteGround team. These are all great ways to stay connected and to get to know your awesome teammates better!
- Your social circle is still there for you – call your friends, family, and relatives every day. Now you have no “it’s too busy at the office” excuse!
As we all shift our behaviours and embrace social distancing measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves working from home for the first time. Such arrangements can be challenging at the best of times as people transition into new work environments. However, with the addition of health and economic concerns, and as is generally the case with global disasters, people are more than a little on edge. That is why, here at Orbitkey, we want to share our tips for working at home with you – to make social distancing a little more social, and keep us all a little more connected.
If you have the luxury of working from home in these current times, thank your lucky stars. But let’s be clear, there can be a sharp divide between the alluring idea of working from home, and the actual reality of doing it. That is because working from home requires effort, planning and organisation. A lot of organisation. Perhaps more so than when you’re at the office. Working from home will often require us to work in a space that was designed for family engagement, recreation or rest. It will often lack the structure of traditional work environments and this can in turn create a sense of isolation and loneliness. But it doesn’t have to. We believe that even small changes can make all the difference when it comes to organisation and working from home. So, let’s get to it!
1. Create a workstation – just for you
If you have the ability to create a dedicated workstation, away from other people and distractions, please do. You will thank yourself for it. Obviously, we all have different constraints in this area, but if you can set yourself up with a functional, aesthetically pleasing space, you will be better positioned to focus on your tasks. Try to avoid sitting directly next to your flatmate or partner, especially if they will be taking calls or using video chat platforms. Try to face a window with some natural light, rather than a blank wall (or a television screen). If you need to borrow an office chair or a monitor, ask your employer. If you can get access to some plants and a desk lamp, even better.
And no, you can’t work from that beautiful park opposite your apartment, or your favourite roastery café down the street – current circumstances don’t permit it, so don’t ask!
If you’re struggling to organise your workspace, check out Orbitkey Nest – our newest customisable desk organiser with an in-built wireless charger. You’re welcome.
2. Replace your commute time with mental prep time
We all have limited mental bandwidth, and disorganisation and poor planning can eat away at that bandwidth. That’s why we would encourage people to develop an enjoyable morning routine that allows you to properly transition from your home life into your work life – before you sit down at your computer. Make a tea, stretch, prep lunch, make a second tea – go crazy (well, not literally) – get dressed and get ready for your day. Yes, this means no working from bed and no working sans pants. Pants remain critical.
3. Create some office ground rules
Try to diplomatically set out some ground rules for any people you might be sharing your space with. This is key. Just as your flatmate wouldn’t walk in unannounced into the main conference room on the second floor of your actual office space and interrupt you while you were in a meeting with the head of marketing, you probably don’t want that happening in your home office either. We’d suggest using non-verbal cues to create a ‘do not disturb’, or a ‘in the zone’ status by sticking a red or yellow card on the wall, wearing headphones or closing a door – if you have a door.
You’re likely going to need a solid IT set up including at least one office computer, good wi-fi and all the requisite organisational apps. We use Slack for office communication, Asana for project management, and Google suite as our go-to productivity and collaboration tools – but you do you. The important thing is to make sure you have everything you need to stay connected with your team and to contribute to results. You will likely have to be your own IT support, at least in part. Try to check your wi-fi before you sit down for your first video chat on Monday. If your neighbour upstairs feels the need to listen to talk back radio at full volume constantly, your office tech will include earplugs – trust us here.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is staying connected with your colleagues, clients and potential account holders. Find a colleague you can chat to if you’re feeling disconnected from your work or your team. If you don’t have a colleague to chat with, perhaps you know someone else who is working from home in a similar industry or role? If you’re feeling worried about your productivity or performance, schedule a meeting and ask for feedback from your team so you can improve. This whole process of remaining connected requires mental effort. Don’t be afraid to speak up on a conference call, even if you don’t have a perfect solution to offer. Sometimes just engaging in the discourse is enough.
6. Managing productivity
This can be a hard one. I think we’ve all had days when we have achieved less (and sometimes a lot less) while working from home than we would have otherwise expected. Navigating this space can definitely be difficult. There are many challenges to manage and overcome when working from home, many of which have already been mentioned. When working from home you have to be able to project-manage yourself. This might mean planning your week out on a Sunday night, or making a daily plan each night for the following day. Use to-do-lists to break complex projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks. In order to maintain a sense of accomplishment, make sure to cross off tasks as you complete them. Communicate wins – even small wins – to your team. If you have downtime, learn about other areas of the business. Actively monitor your mindset and try to stay focused on what you’re grateful for.
Ok, fam that’s it for now. We’re all in this together and we’ve really got to support each other, our fellow business partners, customers, supporters and the wider community as much as we can. Stay awesome. Stay organised. Peace!
orking from home isn’t a new concept, however as companies around Australia roll out work from home policies, for some it may be new territory. Many Australian companies offer flexible working arrangements and for most, working from home is usually only done on a short-term basis. Working from home for longer periods can be hard to adjust to and you might find yourself wondering if your internet will be able to adjust to the increased usage and having multiple devices online at the same time!
Whether you’re a first time work-from-homer or a work-from-home (WFH) pro – here’s everything you need to know to prepare to get the most out of your work day, adjust to your environment, and keep efficiency and productivity at a high.
It’s important to keep your routine to ensure that you can prepare for the day and get into the right mind set. Little things like getting up at the same time (don’t wake up at 8.25 for an 8.30 start), getting ready for the day (no pajamas), making a tea or coffee and of course, a healthy breakfast.
Create an office space
Having a dedicated work environment that is separate to the rest of the house is important. You may not have an entire office but setting up a dedicated area will not only get you into the ‘working’ head space but also ensure that you are free from distractions and interruptions. If you like to have flexible work space you may even set up an area that allows you stand at your computer by elevating your screens.
Create your optimal working environment. Whether that be a cup of fresh coffee on your desk, a couple of plants for some colour, or some relaxing music. Once you get into the zone and set the right environment you may find that you’re even more productive and creative than in an office environment. Especially if you view it as an office and not being at ‘home’.
When it comes to working at home, your setup is important and you need to prepare in advance to ensure that you have the tools to get your job done as easily as possible. First things first: you’ll need a laptop or desktop and VPN access to your work files and programs. To ensure you can work uninterrupted, you’ll want to have access to a phone (this could be your mobile) and a reliable internet connection.
As Australian’s are increasingly having to work from home you may find you have multiple people online at the same time. You may need to reassess your NBN speed tier even if it is temporarily to allow you to work from home while at the same time the kids are researching online or streaming their favourite shows. Our NBN50 bundle with Fetch is perfect for this allowing you sufficient bandwidth for all your work from home needs. You’ll even have a whole lot of content for the kids to watch so you can work uninterrupted! Customers can change their plan in My Internode or if you’re looking for a new NBN™ plan, you can see what’s available at your address here.
Not being in close proximity to your colleagues and manager will require you to increase communication among the team and learn how to efficiently communicate online. If you don’t have systems in place already, look at phone calls and/or texts, online messaging, emails, and video conferencing to keep communication flowing. Your team may also like to set regular catch-ups to ensure that you all still remain accountable and in the loop throughout the week.
While it may feel isolated being at home, there are a number of apps that can help you to communicate with key stakeholders across multiple locations and assist with collaborative tasks. Here are some apps you may like to give a go!
- Apps like Slack bring all of your communications into one platform including instant messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and emails. Emails are even divided into channels to make searching for emails easy!
- Skype and Zoom are great options for instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, and phone services.
- Asana and Trello (which is set up like the game Solitaire!) can help with project management across business goals, projects and daily tasks and allows you to assign tasks to the relevant user and stay on top of your projects and deadlines.
- For file sharing, Dropbox is a great tool for file sharing with cloud storage and file synchronization. It’s super easy to use and you can review documents and leave notes.
- Another great collaboration tool is Google Docs. This service allows you to create documents, share them with the team and edit them at the same time to prevent sending documents backwards and forwards.
If you don’t usually work from home, you’ll probably find that you use more data than normal. Internode customers can stay on top of their data usage by checking it in My Internode. To do this, log in to My Internode, then select Broadband usage & Stats from the menu. This provides the most up to date and detailed information on your broadband usage. The good news is our NBN25, NBN50 and NBN100 plans all come with Unlimited Data so you won’t have to worry.
You may have the right speed and plan for your usage but did you know that there are a number of factors around the home that can affect your WiFi signal? Start by checking if there are objects around your home that can absorb and reflect your WiFi signal for example; solid brick or cement walls, TV’s, fridges, microwaves, large bodies of water (such as a fish tank), and large pieces of furniture. Secondly, check if you have multiple devices connected at the same time that are using up your signal. A basic modem can usually support up to eight devices so try to have less than this to optimise the signal.
For more tips on getting the most out of your WiFi you can check out our blog article ‘How to boost your WiFi signal’.
Do you have any tips that help you get the most out of your home office set up? Share them with us in the comments.