The Office and the Coronavirus COVID-19

With the recent Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, employers across America are now facing an unprecedented experiment of working from home. The next few months will shape company policies of businesses of all sizes as together, as we face this once-in-a-lifetime public-health crisis.

Working Remote
At first, it may sound like a dream – a perpetual snow day – but it can quickly turn into a nightmare. As we face this transition from office to home, how does one manage to work in this new lifestyle? What does it mean to work remotely? It is essential to address what your employees can do and what they are unable to do while not in the office.

Set Expectations and Boundaries
As you transition into working remotely, consider setting up a daily check-in with your staff to set clear day goals and expectations. The key to helping “Flatten the Curve” is flexibility. How the country and your local area react to this ever-spreading disease is always in flux.

Productivity Traps
It is easy to think that working from your bed or your couch is a dream. While this seems like the easiest (and most relaxing) place to check emails or continue projects, it is not always the most productive method. Instead, consider the following tips:

  1. Specific Area for Work – For the next few weeks, find a location within your home that is solely for your work. It is helpful if you can find a space with a door so that you close the door when you’ve completed the workday.
  2. Dress for the Day – Get out of those PJs, take a shower, grab your coffee, and start your day. By dressing for your day, you establish the right mindset for the upcoming day of work.
  3. Schedule Breaks – It is easy to forget to break for lunch or drink water while you work from home. Without coworkers who naturally leave for their lunch hour, you may overlook the simple cues to take a well-deserved break.
  4. Take a Walk – Even with social distancing, try to keep yourself healthy with access to fresh air and moving your body. At the office, you had to move to walk to the restroom, another employee’s office, and the parking lot or bus stop. When working remotely, it is necessary to find ways to increase your physical activity and avoid becoming a plant.
  5. Boundaries Within The Home – If you are working from home with family members, especially with children, outline your day with them upfront. Establish boundaries early if you have a conference call or a deadline. If you know that you are receiving several deliveries, place a “do not knock or ring doorbell” sign outside your door.

Technology Considerations
Can everyone access their work from home? Not all businesses provide laptops for employees to work from home, so consider those staff members and how they will fit into this new work environment. The security of your information is also essential. Think through the steps of the different ways staff will access and use company information.

Remote Tools to Use
There are several tools out there that your company, no matter the size, can use while working from home. For these applications to be successful, everyone on the team needs to use them from the top down.

  1. Slack and Trello – These online group messaging services allows employees to stay connected while working on company projects. There is a website and an app for employees to use in efforts to stay organized and works efficiently on projects. They’re also free to use depending on your organization’s size.
  2. Loom – An excellent website for training and tutorial purposes. Loom can let users record voice-over instructions on training videos while being remote. There is also a free platform to create video tutorials.
  3. Zoom and Skype – Aim to have more meetings via a webcam than over the phone. You are creating the opportunity to see people will allow your office to feel still connected and part of a team rather than feeling isolated.
  4. GoToMyPC – Workers can use this technology to access their work computer while at home as long as it is set up before working remotely. There is a seven-day free trial, or the company can pay for the longer term use of the application.

Mental Health
This dramatic change in the last few weeks can take a toll on the staff’s mental health. Remember to have some work-life balance during this transition. Keeping a daily schedule and connecting with friends and coworkers through Zoom or FaceTime will help the time fly by while in quarantine.

You Must Log-Off
It is easy to find yourself burning the midnight oil and not logging off your computer to get projects done. Just because you have access to your work at all the hours of the day doesn’t mean that you should work every hour of your day. Part of setting boundaries and establishing a routine includes deciding when to log off from your day beyond shutting down your laptop.

Jobs That Can’t Be Remote
Not all jobs can move to work remotely, and your business might be unable to work from home. If so, consider working in staggered shifts and work at least 6 feet from each other. By keeping employees distanced from each other, this can help reduce the likelihood of passing on the Coronavirus.

Challenging times can bring people closer together and work more effectively than before. Remote working does not mean the end of your company’s culture. Instead, think creatively on how to engage employees such as video lunch and learn, Netflix viewing parties, and other ways to increase engagement. This new form of working is much more than having the right tools but also the right attitude during this ever-changing landscape.

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