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Working From Home As A Tool To Combat COVID-19: Tips For A Remote Workforce

With the Coronavirus on the move across the world, many companies have become very interested in having their employees work from home as a way to combat transmission of the virus. Since “large gatherings of people” are currently being discouraged by the CDC, many employers are looking at telecommuting as a solution for their employees to be able to maintain as much efficiency and consistency as possible while the threat of the virus is present.

We want to offer you some tips, both for employers and employees, that will help you and your teams stay productive throughout this pandemic.

Tips for Employers

While COVID-19 remains a growing threat to the world populace and global economy, there are some precautions employers can take to ensure the safety and security of their employees. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Offer your employees the ability to work from home This is the first step to ensuring your business can continue on mostly without interruption. Any employees who have the ability to work from home should be encouraged to do so, and any employees who don’t currently have the ability should be enabled to do so.

  • Supply ample amounts of hand sanitizer and Lysol If you do need to host meetings on-site, keeping shared spaces clean is paramount to staying healthy during the threat of the Coronavirus. And of course encourage thorough hand-washing!

  • Ensure that your employees and facilities have the correct hardware and software for your workforce to be able to work from home effectively. If they don’t have the correct tools, it may actually take them longer to get their work done, which would be counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve. Just having the correct conference room hardware and a cache of Chromebooks in a Grab ‘n Go may suffice.

  • Stay secure Do all your employees have two-factor authentication enabled? Maybe go a step further, does everyone have a Titan Security Key? Are hard drives encrypted in case laptops get into the wrong hands after leaving the building? Are employees logging into your organization’s cloud environment via personal or company managed devices? As hardware wanders out of the building and onto potentially untrusted WiFi networks you may want to also consider VPN services such as encrypt.me required on any public WiFi.

  • If your team is new to working remotely, make sure their roles are clearly defined and set incremental goals so they can stay focused on the most important initiatives. Like any change, it takes time to adapt and having a little more structure around your objectives at first can help in the transition. Luckily for those using cloud-based solutions already, all the online processes stay the same: signing on, joining conference calls, emailing, sharing documents, etc.

  • Make time for personal interactions Office meetings are becoming a sort of work trend to get away from, but when your entire team is remote it’s important to jump on video conference calls and/or pick up the phone. Just keep in mind these meetings don’t need to be as long as the calendar invite says they are. Check in and re-focus!

  • Keep your culture flourishing When you kick off a meeting, allow a couple minutes for small talk & create the virtual water cooler experience. This not only extends your company culture into client meetings but also creates a more comfortable meeting environment.

Tips for Employees

If you’re an employee, you have your own set of responsibilities to provide yourself with a successful work-from-home scenario. Here they are:

  • Have everything you need to work This includes your computer, charger, headphones, extra monitor, and any physical documentation you may have. You may not even realize until you’re home that you have a special cheat sheet of some kind that you keep in your desk drawer.

  • Treat yourself to a ‘Work From Home’ (WFH) office setup that is conducive to working effectively. Don’t try to work while laying down in your bed! It simply won’t facilitate a working environment. Instead, prepare yourself for the day as you normally would for the office (and double up on personal hygiene): get up early, eat breakfast, and dress yourself according to the in-office dress code. (Okay, we’ll let it slide if you’re barefoot!)

  • Make sure you have a reliable, high-speed internet connection Even though platforms like G Suite allow for offline capabilities, there’s nothing worse than freezing every couple minutes on a video call and missing important tid-bits. And what if disaster happens...your wifi does go out. Are you still able to work from your phone if needed? Make sure all the apps you need to work on are downloaded on your phone and secure.

  • Plan out your day the evening before This structure will keep you focused on your most important initiatives and get you excited to get out of bed the next morning.

  • Set and keep planned work hours Keep your calendar up to date and chat statuses current. On the flip side, respect your other people’s calendars as well as their working hours.

  • Get comfortable with using a video conferencing system that you can access from your laptop or phone. By defaulting to video conferencing, you ensure engagement across your team.

  • Take time to walk away from work Get lunch and take a break. You will find out quickly how fast the time flies when you are truly zoned in on a project. The minimized distractions are great, but you’ve got to come back to reality. Research has shown that working for 90 minutes straight on primary tasks and secondary tasks is best for optimal performance. With that in mind, try to schedule your day as such if possible.

  • Keep yourself sane! There's a lot we have to be serious about at a time like this. But don't forget to still have some fun. During your breaks listen to a podcast or perhaps a hilariously curated COVID-19-themed Spotify playlist

  • Any Jamboarders out there? Just because your Jamboard is at the office doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate with your team. Download the app on your tablet or phone and whiteboard–eh hem, JAM–away!

We wish you all health and productivity. Hopefully, in the coming weeks and months we’ll see a slow to the spread of COVID-19 and its effects will be a thing of the past. Until then, we hope you find these Work From Home tips helpful as you and your team weather the pandemic! 

Originally published on March 13, 2020

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