How to work remotely amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Australia, and indeed the world, is very different to what it was a few months ago, even a few days ago. Things are changing at such a rapid rate and every hour brings a new wave of fear and uncertainty. Working remotely from home during mandated periods of quarantine or self-imposed isolation is now essential for some companies and slowly becoming the norm, but not everyone knows how to manage this effectively without being distracted by the latest Netflix series or the growing pile of laundry. So how can you ensure you get the most out of your workday whilst working remotely?

Work your normal business hours.

When working remotely, ensure that you communicate and work your normal work hours. If you normally start at 9am, don’t wake up at 8.45am and stumble to your laptop expecting to have a productive day. This won’t happen. Wake up at your usual time and log in at your normal start time. A common fear of employees is the expectation to respond to queries or emails after hours if they work remotely.  To ensure your work quality remains at a high standard and to avoid burnout, log off at your usual finish time. The email can wait.

Set up a designated workspace.

Setting up a quiet space that you can “go to” each day – be it a spare room or nook in the living room - where you can work uninterrupted, will prepare you mentally for remote working. Ensure that you also have a supportive chair and stable workspace. Working from your bed will not only be less productive, it will also come across less professional when you receive an unannounced Skype call from your boss and you’re still in your pyjamas. Avoid the awkward.

Dress for work.

You wouldn’t go into the office in your Homer Simpson t-shirt, so avoid doing this when you work from home. Whilst I appreciate it may be your favourite shirt, getting your work attire on will put you in the right headspace for the day and allow you to take unannounced Skype calls as and when required. By doing this your boss, clients and colleagues will see that you’re taking your work seriously, regardless of location.

Take regular breaks.

Working remotely is not a concept most people are familiar with, so the more you mimic a normal workday, the better your output will be. Ensure you schedule a regular lunch break and walk away from your laptop or device and focus on non-work-related things. Make some lunch, speak with a friend over the phone, put a load of washing on or watch that latest Netflix episode. Just make sure you break regularly to avoid burn out.

Connect with others via Video Link.

The biggest challenge of working remotely is the feeling of isolation without the face to face human contact you get from working in an office. This is where regular communication is key. Keep your scheduled team meetings and one-on-ones and regularly communicate with colleagues throughout the day using Zoom or Skype. Using headphones to minimise background sound is also a courteous move if there is background noise

Have fun.

Working from home doesn’t need to be tough. Lighten the mood with some witty competition around the most creative workspace, share funny photos with each other on private social media channels or groups in Slack or Messenger and participate in virtual team building activities online to create some fun and virtual team bonding.

The thing to remember is that this situation is not forever, but by embracing the positives, working remotely can bring a team closer together in the long run if managed well and by then, Coronavirus will be a distant memory.

Jodie Williamson

National Perm Manager at S&you Australia