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Daniel | 05/01/2021
With the UK back under lockdown, it looks as though working from home is here to stay for some time to come. While many of us will be used to this way of working by now, there will be others who are just getting to grips with it for the first time. And with a new year upon us, it's a great time to re-examine your working practises to ensure you're being as productive as possible. To help you out, we've put together the following guide on how to make the best of things, and keep your company running smoothly.
Even when the UK lockdown is lifted, it's likely that many people will still need to work from home for many months to come. This means businesses need to adapt to the current situation, rather than treating it as a mere bump in the road. For that reason, it's best to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to working from home.
Managers should sit down together and create some ground rules for working from home. For instance, will everyone be required to keep the same working hours as usual, or will there be a bit of flexibility? How often should people check in with managers and colleagues? Do all staff have what they need to do their job remotely? Having all of these things sorted will ensure that you can carry on as close to normal as possible. A weekly conference call for senior management is also a good idea. This will give you the chance to make sure everything is still on track, and allow you to tweak your approach as needed.
Anyone who has ever worked from home will know how easy it is to get distracted. After all, home is meant to be the place where you don't work. We associate it with relaxing, so naturally that's where your mind will wander. Unless you already have a home office set up, you might be tempted to just work on the sofa- perhaps with the TV on. Before long, you're fully engrossed in that programme that you only meant to have on in the background- and your workload suffers as a result.
To combat this, you should consider making a space that's just for work. This could be at a desk, on the dining room table, or just somewhere with the least number of distractions around you. This will also help you to keep your work from eating into your personal time. If you make a clear distinction between where you work and where you relax, you'll be able to leave your workload behind at the end of the day- just like you would normally when leaving the office.
When we're in the office, it's easy to take WiFi for granted. After all, most companies take care to ensure that their broadband is powerful enough to cope with multiple users. When you're working from home, though, you may find that your home network doesn't give a great connection in every room. This can be frustrating if you're working away from your router, but not to worry- whole home WiFi can make this problem a thing of the past!
Whole home WiFi kits work in one of two ways. Some act as a booster to your existing router, often creating their own network ending in the letters "EXT". Others, meanwhile, blanket your entire home in a single network for seamless coverage. The latter tend to give a more reliable signal, but are more expensive and require a bit more setup. For the average user, we would recommend the BT Mini WiFi Hotspot 600 Kit- a cost-effective solution that provides more than enough coverage for most homes.
When you're stuck at home, you'll probably find that the days start to roll into each other. Not only can this knock you for six in general, it can also really mess with your workload. If you have to manage your own workload, then it can be hard to know how to split your tasks up without the constraints of "office time".
Even if you work flat out all day, you might feel like you haven't done enough. That can lead to you overworking, which can actually reduce your overall productivity. On the other hand, you could end up wasting the day doing smaller, more trivial tasks, and putting off the big things that really need done.
To combat this, try and identify the main tasks that you need to accomplish each day. You should still leave some room for routine work or little things that might pop up. But by knowing the most important objective for each day, you can ensure you stay on top of things.
If you're working from home, it can be tempting to just stay in your pyjamas all day. But to get the most out of your day, you need to be in a working mindset- and part of that is down to what you wear. If you have specific work clothes, then still put them on. You'll then feel more like you're at work, and be better prepared psychologically for the day ahead. Of course, you don't need to dress as if you were going to an important meeting.
It's not yet clear just how much of an impact coronavirus will have on day-to-day life in the UK, or how many people will need to self-isolate. However, as with most things in life, it's best to be prepared for the worst. Ensure that you have easy access to all the tools you would normally use as part of your day-to-day job. For most people, that will mean a PC or laptop at the very least, as well as access to a stable WiFi connection.
A headset is another useful piece of kit to have in a situation like this. It means you can easily communicate with your colleagues through your computer, so you can use tools like Skype or Slack to check in and collaborate quickly and simply. You can check out our top picks for home office headsets here. Or, if you still want to make calls from your business number remotely, then the Invoxia Voice Bridge is exactly what you need.
While face-to-face contact may be off-limits right now, people are still finding ways to keep in touch. The video conferencing platform Zoom has seen a massive spike in popularity over the last couple of months. Not only does it offers much better call quality than Skype, but it also lets you add custom backgrounds to your calls- something which people have been having a lot of fun with. While there are some issues surrounding Zoom (most notably the fact that others can drop into random calls by guessing passcodes), it's still a great way to check in with colleagues every now and again. For calls with multiple participants, we'd still stick with Skype, though, as this doesn't put a cap on the number of minutes you can call for free. Not only do conference calls ensure the whole team is still on the same page, but they can also play an important part in combating loneliness during lockdown.
Related: Top 10 Best Portable Conference Speakers
Those lucky enough to have a job where you don't need to be in constant communication with others will have a little flexibility with their working hours. If you're more of a morning person, then take advantage of the that! Use you save by not commuting to start your work day a bit earlier. Should you find you get more done in the afternoon, time your hours so that more of your day falls within that sweet spot.
Those in self-isolation will need to stay at home for seven days before you can go back outside. But if you are working from home because your office is closed, this rule won't apply. Instead, you should try to get out of the house at least once a day, so that you don't feel completely cut off from the outside world. Fresh air and natural light can have a big impact on mood and productivity, so you should see it make a big difference during your time away from the office. Your lunch break is a great time for this, as it can also help you avoid that afternoon slump, too.
If people are deliberately isolating themselves from each other, that's going to have an impact on their wellbeing. Humans are naturally sociable creatures, so being cut off from those we normally see and speak to every day can leave people feeling pretty lonely. There's no shame in admitting this, especially since everyone will be feeling the same way on some level. While it might feel easier to just send an email, sometimes speaking to someone over the phone or via voice chat can really make a difference.
Here at liGo, we help plenty of businesses keep running smoothly every day, with our wide range of communications solutions for businesses. And even if we have to close our offices, our friendly customer service team will still be on hand to help with anything you might need. Get in touch today, and find out what we can do for you!
This entry was posted in Advice, Business on 05/01/2021 by Daniel.