Ever since we entered our first lockdown in March 2020, we’ve all had to adjust to a new way of life.
Now more than a year on from the start of COVID-19, we can all switch to working from home at a moment’s notice whenever a lockdown period should come into effect.
Even in a post-pandemic future, it’s likely that hybrid models of remote work will continue to be part of our daily lives. A recent study from McKinsey Global Institute found 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days per week and be equally effective as they would be in their regular office, long after we’ve all received the COVID jab.
But no matter whether it’s the global pandemic or personal preferences leading us to work from home on a more regular basis, there are challenges to overcome when working remotely.
While some personalities find the environment provides a productivity boost, others find it a struggle to remain focussed and motivated. Without a proper office space or clear work hours, it’s very easy to become distracted from work tasks.
At Distl, our team has made a seamless transition to working from home, with many team members opting to work remotely even during times of limited restrictions.
To support other businesses during lockdown, we’ve put together a list of our favourite tools and resources to help maintain a sense of normalcy when we’re all working from home.
It’s more important than ever to stay connected during lockdown periods. At Distl, we use a number of communication tools to ensure our team feels united even when physically apart.
Video conferencing tool Zoom became one of the most popular apps for businesses to use while living and working in isolation. It offers an easy-to-use platform that’s effective for holding team and client meetings in a virtual space.
While Zoom was the go-to app in 2020, we’ve now made the shift to Microsoft Teams. As the video conferencing functionality on Teams is fully integrated with its messaging app as well as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft OneDrive, it offers an ideal all-in-one solution.
Microsoft Teams has all the same capabilities as Zoom, minus the security concerns and pesky 40-minute time limit. It enables us to conduct our morning team huddles from home, ensuring we maintain our communications and ways of operating with minimal disruption.
When we’re unable to see each other face to face, we hold our morning huddles over Microsoft Teams to build comradery. You can easily adapt the huddle format to whatever works for your business. At Distl, we use a series of questions to structure our huddles, giving each team member the opportunity to speak to the group.
We always start with a fun, get-to-know-you style question that changes week to week. Some past examples include –
From there, each team member shares what they’re currently working on as well as their working capacity for the week.
Microsoft Teams messenger app allows our team to strike up private conversations, group chats, project-based discussions and more. It also has the capability to create companywide and department-based channels for sharing important news and updates.
From seeking assistance to having casual conversations, Teams offers a flexible alternative to traditional email communication. With quirky, animated emojis and .gif functionality, it’s also a more engaging way for our team to exchange information in real-time.
It can be difficult to bond as team when you’re not working in the same office each day. Social distancing can lead to loneliness and low morale, making it vital to undertake team bonding activities that don’t require face to face interactions.
You can still enjoy a trivia quiz even when you’re stuck inside. One of our favourite team bonding exercises during lockdown 1.0 was lunchtime quizzes. Each week a different staff member would organise a quiz filled with questions about the team, general knowledge, pop culture and more. By using a video conferencing tool, the entire team was able to participate from home.
During stressful and uncertain times, people need to feel valued and appreciated more than ever. Sending care packages is a lovely gesture that can provide comfort, lift spirits, and make it just a little bit easier to cope with isolated living.
Last year, we filled our care packages with mini chocolates and lollies, colourful stationery, and a personalised, hand-written card from our director David Metcalf.
Even when you’re working in an office, you need to have an efficient, reliable and secure system that allows for the management of files and documents. With certain internal servers and system networks, it can be difficult to move to a working from home arrangement. To always have a fail-safe in place, your business should investigate adaptable solutions that can be accessed from anywhere.
Cloud storage options such as Microsoft OneDrive offer a practical solution when working from home. At Distl, we use OneDrive to ensure all our files are easily accessible from any location. It’s simple to use and enables multiple people to work on multiple files at once.
As all documents and files are available to all team members, there’s no need to worry if someone falls ill or is unreachable for any reason. It also enables our team to reduce our paper consumption, making our business more eco-friendly.
Google Docs is another cloud based, collaborative tool that allows you to share a document with colleagues without needing to be in the same room. It works in a similar way to Microsoft Office, enabling you to share files via a link and work together on one document.
When there are multiple projects that involve numerous team members with various responsibilities, it can be tricky to stay on top of everything and remain organised, especially when working remotely.
We have been utilising our project management tools more than ever since working from home more frequently. Our go-to is Monday.com. We use the Monday board system to plan our workflow, oversee projects and communicate internally. It has become the main hub that we use each day, allowing us to assign project leaders to jobs and individuals to specific tasks.
While it comes with added convenience and comfort, working from home can also lead to muscular issues and eye strain after slouching over a laptop all day in poor lighting.
As an employer, it’s so important to help your team members establish an ergonomic home office set up. At the start of last year’s extended lockdown, we sent out a questionnaire to our team to ensure everyone was working in a safe environment. We also gave our team members the opportunity to borrow equipment from the office, including spare monitors and chairs.
If you’d like to discover more working from home solutions to support your team, check out Safe Work Australia’s general information and guidelines here.