The COVID-19 pandemic is changing where and how we work. In about half the countries worldwide, organizations are examining policies and changing workflow so people can work from home.
Transitioning to work-from-home can take time and effort. Workers need to set up a space, gather physical and digital tools and create a personal workflow. We at Jennasis & Associates know about the best practices of working from home because for our business working from home has always been the norm! Jennasis has always been a fully virtual firm. So, during the pandemic, we are operating business as usual.
Your company may also find that working from home has benefits. According to FlexJobs’ 2018 annual survey, 65 percent of respondents predicted they would be more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace. Only 3 percent said they’d be less productive.
The top reasons respondents said they would be, or are, more productive working remotely are:
Fewer distractions (75%)
Fewer interruptions from colleagues (74%)
Reduced stress from commuting (71%)
Minimal office politics (65%)
Quieter noise level (60%)
More comfortable clothes (52%)
Less frequent meetings (47%)
More personalized office environment (46%)
More efficient meetings (29%)
As your workplace continues to transition, Jessica Shaffalo, director of marketing here at Jennasis & Associates, advises those working from home to be realistic about your challenges and patient as you strive to improve productivity. In her two years of working from home, she has learned helpful tips to help maximize your work-from-home experience.
SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS
“People assume that working from home is easier. It's not,” Shaffalo says. “It takes more discipline, and you'll likely find that you are working harder than you did in an office setting, where there were more distractions and it was easy to lean on others or slack off. At home the productivity of your day depends on YOU.”
You must also be vigilant about respecting your time and protecting work hours. “Others may assume that working from home means you're not working as hard,” says Shaffalo. “They may interrupt your busy day and ask for favors. You need to set firm boundaries about your working hours. Working remotely is still working and should be respected.”
Jennasis Marketing associate Megan Augustine adds, “At first it was really hard for me to work remotely. But as I got used to it, I can literally work anywhere. It can be challenging, especially when the kids will be home from school for a few weeks. I may have to adjust my schedule to work later at night while they’re sleeping.”
SET UP A WORKSPACE
Dressing for work and creating dedicated workspaces help with creating a structure, something most people need. But each person has their own style.
“I have a dedicated office,” says Shaffalo. “I also occasionally meet with others at Panera, Starbucks, etc., for work sessions.” Her office includes a desk, ergonomic chair, laptop, external monitor as well as an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
Jennasis Marketing associate Joelle Krumheuer has adapted an unused dining room into an office. “I went through a few chairs before finding one that I could sit in for an extended period of time. My office also has an additional computer screen so I can work off two.” Though each person’s situation is different, the initial investment of time and energy to create a workspace where you can be fully engaged and productive will more than pay off in the end.
GET TO KNOW DIGITAL TOOLS
Clear communication is imperative, as remote work requires careful attention to keep teams moving in the same direction. “Communication is key. And it goes both ways,” says Augustine. “The person assigning a task needs to be extra clear. And, if the person receiving the assignment doesn’t understand something, they must ask questions to clarify.”
Mobile phones and email access are essential. The Jennasis team is especially appreciative of:
Asana -- web and mobile application that helps teams organize, track, and manage their work.
Carbonite – online backup service that backs up documents, e-mails, music, photos, and settings.
Dropbox - file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software.
Google Hangouts - communication platform which includes instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features.
Slack - instant messaging system with add-ins for many other workplace tools.
Zoom - remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.
FIGHT THE CHALLENGES
While everyone enjoys flexibility, Steffani Baker, director of operations at Jennasis & Associates, creates structure with regular hours. “About 75 percent of my time is set hours. This allows me to focus on work and set up childcare for my two young kids. It helps with planning. The other 25 percent I flex based on my family schedule and last-minute team needs.”
“What surprised me most was that, over time, it got to be lonely,” says Krumheuer. “I was so used to being in an office around people all day. I loved being home, but I noticed I felt alone too often. The communication tools (see above) that Jennasis has setup are incredible. We communicate through the day and meet up for an in-person workday when needed.” Each work-from-home situation comes with its own challenges, so you have to be ready to adjust accordingly.
HOW JENNASIS CAN HELP
Our remote office structure allows us to work effectively and deliver high quality, timely results to our clients while maintaining the social distancing protocols recommended by the Center for Disease Control. We do not anticipate workflow delays because this is business as usual for us.
We understand that many companies are not prepared to operate virtually with such short notice. If your business, or another company you know, needs assistance navigating the challenges of remote work and virtual staff support, or if in-house operations are paused - we are ready to step in and lend a hand.
Jennasis offers marketing services that can adapt to the upcoming challenges we face as a nation. Our virtual administration capabilities can support your staff and executives without a complete workflow overhaul, reducing downtime and allowing your business to adapt to changing recommendations and regulations. Visit our website or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how Jennasis can help you navigate this difficult season.
Paris Wolfe started writing from home 23 years ago when her oldest son was born. She writes about business, travel, food, wine and lifestyle topics. She is also author of the blog Travel + Eat with Paris Wolfe. When she’s not writing she enjoys gardening, riding her boyfriend’s motorcycle, downhill skiing and throwing dinner parties for family and friends.