While working remotely is now business as usual for some, many of us have had to adapt quickly to working remotely given the current climate. As a result, businesses have adopted flexible working policies such as ‘working from home’ (WFH) or ‘working from anywhere’ (WFA) – but what’s the difference? WFH is where an employee works from their house, apartment, or place of residence rather than working from an office. Whereas WFA is quite literally having the mobility to work from anywhere in the country, and in some cases, the world. Simply put, these are different approaches for flexible working arrangements within a company.
Getting the most out of working from home or anywhere requires discipline and careful consideration. There is something about being in the office space with your colleagues that leads to a productive mindset. To help overcome the challenges of working remotely, we’ve collated some of our top tips.
Working from home
Now more than ever this is a new reality for many of us, some of our top tips and tricks for optimal productivity while working from home include:
1. Your Environment
It is important that the environment in which your home office is set up can be closed off or packed away – if it can be a dedicated space in your home, even better! Chances are you are going to spend a number of hours there each day, so you may as well ensure it works well for you. Wi-Fi coverage, heating, cooling, functional lighting for video calls… combined, they can sustain you through the day and enable an enjoyable experience – not only yourself, but those you interact with, such as your colleagues, vendors, and clients or customers.
2. Scheduling Breaks
It is also essential that you are scheduling breaks throughout your day. Chances are during your normal workday you are regularly moving around the office, even if it is only between meeting rooms. When working from home, schedule time to get some fresh air, change up the scenery, or even get up for a drink. Can’t be bothered scheduling it? Just set up a reminder on your smartphone.
3. Video Call Considerations
Treat video calls as you would an in-person meeting, by making sure:
- You can be clearly seen: If people can’t see you, you may as well be in audio only call, which is a step down from a communication and experience perspective.
- Remove any distractions as you would in a face-to-face meeting: Put your smartphone on silent, close your email for the duration of the call, and manage family interruptions where practical.
- Check your audio and camera technology before entering the video call: Think of it like a long car journey. Just like you would likely check the vehicle over for adequate gas, oil, water, and tyre pressure before heading off, make sure your tech is ready to go. Microsoft Teams caters for this well in the dialogue box that pops up when you go to join a scheduled call. You can check you’ve got the right devices selected, can be seen, and even set up your background for the call:
- Know how to share content/presentations: This will ensure that you do not spend time in the call trying to work this out. Need some practice? Find a remote working colleague that you can video call to test out your sharing skills.
4. Replicate Corridor Conversations
Working from home can be isolating, it is likely that you aren’t having the level of interaction with others as you would in person. Make a list of people you frequently interact with socially in the office and be deliberate about contacting one person on your list each day. It might be an instant message where you just ‘check in’, or an audio/video call. Most people still need to chat about life outside of work, and it can be a nice balance when the only other people you get to frequently interact with are others in your home.
Working from anywhere
It was previously considered an inefficient use of time to work anywhere but the office. However, we are now seeing more and more businesses adopt a ‘work from anywhere’ approach. With mobility and flexibility being a reality of 2021 and beyond, there are many opportunities to slot in work around other personal commitments. Useful tips for WFA include:
1. Be battery conscious
There’s no point pulling out your laptop while waiting in the car for someone if you only have 4% battery. This means that you need to be organised with your power supply, making sure it travels with you and is used where possible. Your business might be happy to supply you a battery based portable charger for this purpose. If you pursue this option, make sure it’s up to spec as charging a laptop using this method is very different to charging a smartphone or tablet.
2. Make the right devices available
When working on the go it is important to consider the accessibility of devices. For example, an iPad can turn on instantly, your laptop not always – trivial things like start-up time make a big difference when it comes to productivity.
3. Hot Spotting
If you are working outside of Wi-Fi coverage, make sure you know how to hot spot with your smartphone. As per the previous point, thinking about battery life also needs to extend to your smartphone in this situation.
4. Collaboration Platforms
Using collaboration platforms, like Microsoft Teams, for video or audio calls while on the go requires some forethought:
- Location: Where will you be when the scheduled call is taking place? It may be best to plan your day accordingly, taking calls from a location where you can be seated with some privacy, i.e., your home office, a café, a hotel etc.
- Technology: Sound and picture quality makes a world of difference when it comes to virtual collaboration. Make sure you have a quality headset that is portable, and that your laptop or smartphone camera is of sufficient quality. Helpful tip: If your smartphone provides a higher quality image when video calling, Microsoft Teams now allows you to join from multiple devices, so you could join from your laptop in order to share your screen, while also joining from your phone to use its camera.
Now more than ever companies need to be ready to adapt to employees working remotely, whether that be updating policies or providing fit for purpose equipment. Every business will have a different approach, taking into consideration what works best for their market and staff. Equipping employees with the tips and tricks shared above will also make a difference when it comes to both employee productivity and experience!