For many of us there are so many things to adjust to right now
Most of our routines have been disrupted, we’re having to adjust to or learn new ways of working and socialising, shopping, exercising, even home schooling our kids. The team at Squirrel are facing most of the same challenges that you are, with the exception of working from home. Having been set up to work remotely since our business began in 2012, we have in place the digital tools we need to provide a complete service online – from initial discovery session, through to consultation, planning, implementation, testing, training and ongoing support.
We’re also old hands when it comes to working productively from home. Here are some of the key tools and tried-and-tested strategies we rely on for maintaining productivity, remaining operational and staying sane as you transition to working remotely:
Establish a routine
People who aren’t used to working from home may feel a little lost initially. Establishing a daily routine, whatever that looks like for you, will help you to adjust to your new reality more quickly, keep your focus and remain productive.
Kylie: “Establish and maintain a routine – rise, exercise, shower, breakfast, lipstick – and you’re good to go!”
Nicole: “Get up early and get stuff done while everyone else is still asleep.”
Elizabeth: “Maintaining normal working hours gives my day structure. I’m at my desk by 9 and then take a short break every hour to stretch my legs and fill my water bottle. I also try to get outside for a little sunshine at lunch time.”
Use a chat tool to communicate with your team
Maintaining communication within the team is the foundation of any successful remote working arrangement. Chat tools like Cliq or Slack allow you to stay in touch with your workmates throughout the day, with instant messaging between individuals, teams and departments via different channels. This helps us to keep work on track, engages employees and maintains morale.
Rebecca: “Be visible and connected – working from home doesn’t have to be isolating. Keep the communication open with your team and lean on them for support when you need to. Whether you’re chatting about a current project or just talking about last night’s Game of Thrones episode, keeping in touch with your co-workers helps you feel connected.”
Use video conferencing to keep in touch with customers
Video conferencing tools like Zoho Meeting, Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts do a great job of replicating face-to-face meetings, allowing you to maintain contact and continue to conduct business with your customers, and keep a record for future reference. Our team meets this way every morning to touch base and plan the day.
Suze: “Make sure you always have your camera on when you chat with workmates (or customers), as being able to see people creates a better connection, which improves engagement and morale.”
Use the cloud to share documents
To keep your business running as smoothly as possible, your team needs uninterrupted access to proposals, project plans, agreements and other important documents. We use GSuite’s collaboration and productivity apps, which include Google Docs and Google Sheets, allowing everyone in the team to work collaboratively on the same documents, wherever they are.
If you find it hard to focus, try setting small, manageable goals with time limits. After completing a task, or series of tasks, reward yourself with a non-work activity, like a quick walk around the block, making a coffee or patting the dog!
Maintain your relationships
In times of uncertainty, people seek certainty. Communicate with your team, clients and suppliers – be honest, transparent, fair and bear in mind that everyone is going through the same emotions but perhaps at a different cadence to you. With many of your clients already on social platforms and probably spending more time there at the moment, this medium could be an effective way to keep your clients informed of any changes that effect them, ways you can help and ensure that you and your brand stay front of mind.
We use Zoho Social to post to all our social media platforms at once, monitor any activity or mentions, and receive and respond to messages from our clients. However, don’t forget the impact a personal email or better yet phone call, to those who matter to you can make.
Working from home surrounded by kids and other family members, especially in a shared space, is probably the biggest challenge you will face. Setting aside a designated work area, planning the day and communicating your expectations to everyone in the household will help you establish boundaries and create pockets of time for getting your work done.
Explain to your children that you are working until a certain time and make plans to do things together after you finish work so that they understand what the day will look like for them and have something to look forward to. Plan activities to keep them occupied, but organise support if you have an important meeting.
Nicole: “I give the kids a list of chores to do and then they can have some screen time. My youngest likes to make a café – she creates a menu and I order food, teas or juices. She then prepares everything while I work and delivers my order to my desk!
For younger kids, changing the atmosphere if they get restless is also helpful. I take my laptop outside, where they can play with the dog and let off a bit of steam while I tick a few tasks off the list.”
Suze: “But don’t forget to take breaks. When you don’t need to travel or go out to get lunch, it’s easy to let the hours fly by and then discover that you haven’t moved for hours. Stretch your legs, call a friend, or do some yoga!”
With just your laptops, wifi and the right tools, your team can work productively and efficiently, and continue to support your customers, while working remotely from home. If you need help setting up a chat tool, video conferencing, access to shared documents or any other collaboration tools, or advice on how to work remotely, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Zoho Remotely offers all the apps you need for working remotely in one package. If you’re a Zoho One user, all these apps are included in your subscription already. If you’re not, then you can take a look and access them via this link. Zoho are offering the Remotely bundle of apps for free until July 1st 2020 to help businesses during COVID-19.