Tools, Tips & Tricks on working remotely during the COVID-19 situation
These are extraordinary times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the world, many companies – besides all the people that have fallen ill – have been impacted by the virus. Companies have gone fully remote, with people working from home and collaborating remotely.
Just like most companies in our surroundings, we also notice the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures different governments now have to take. As part of our original business model, MACH10 has foreseen that a large part of our international workforce works remotely. Mainly as a way to increase productivity and flexibility, to create a better work-life balance, and to reduce travel time and costs. Due to our flexibility, we are adaptable. We’re now teaching our training courses online, our client meetings take place online, we’re doing equipment health checks remotely, and we’re discovering new ways to assist and support our clients.
We are very much aware that not all companies have the opportunity to adjust as quickly. We might be able to help a little, by sharing some of the knowledge we have gained over the past 10 years on working remotely as a team. We therefore came up with this blog post on our tips, tricks & tools on how to efficiently work from home.
Luckily, we nowadays have the technology to make this transition from working at the office to working from home as smoothly as possible. Many tools work the same from home as from the office. Productivity is another matter. There are many distractions at home that are different from those in the office. So how do we do this, working remotely? Where do you start? And what tools are best to use?
First things first: setting up your workplace
At the office, you can easily slide into your office space or find a flex desk and get to work. Now that we, quite suddenly and en masse, have to work from home, it may also be the case that you do not have that wonderful furnished workplace at home. Your workplace influences your productivity. In order to make sure you can focus and remain productive, it’s a good idea to put some effort in creating a nice workplace.
Consciously choose the place where you will work
The dining table is obvious. But there are plenty of other places. Make sure you choose a dedicated office space. This enables you to ‘close’ the office after a full day of work, and slide into your spare time mode.
Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you.
Do you have family members or roommates who are also at home? It might be nice to close the door behind you, or put in good pair of headphones. Make sure any roommates, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) respect your space during work hours. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re home.
Getting to work
When you’re at the office, your coworkers are often the ones that drop by for a chat, invite you to lunch, and well, keep you distracted from work. Although it’s nice to have these social contacts at a workplace, remaining focused can become a challenge. When you’re at home, however, it can become quite easy for yourself to become your own distraction. There’s no peer pressure or social control to get stuff done and not watch Youtube or scroll through social media. So, how do you remain focused and productive?
Get started early.
Often when you work in an office, commuting to work can help you prepare for the day that’s ahead. When you work from home, the transition from your breakfast table to your desk can be a bit more tough. Believe it or not, we’ve found that a great way to work productively is to start on your tasks as soon as you wake up. Getting started is often the key to making progress. It’ll only wear away your motivation if you take all the time in the world from waking up, to having breakfast, and getting to your home office.
Prepare as if you are actually going into the office.
When working from home, do all the things you would also do to prepare for a day at the office: Set your alarm, make coffee, and wear nice clothes. The mental association with preparing for going into the office actually boosts your motivation, focus, and productivity.
Structure your day.
At your home office, it can be quite easy to lose focus, or burn out, when there’s no structure in your day. In the office, your coworkers help you structure your day through meetings, lunches, coffee breaks, and after work activities. Make sure to provide yourself with a schedule, as if you were in the office. Segment your calendar with what you’ll do when during the day and create reminders that tell you to shift to your next task or project.
This might sound obvious, but it isn’t as clear as it would be at the office. It can be so easy to get distracted and to lose all sense of time while working on a task. Make sure to schedule breaks to give your brain and mind a break. Set an alarm, get up for a walk and take a fresh breath of air. Make sure to get away from your desk for a bit. Spend some time with others who might also be in the house. Or take part in Push-up-o-clock. Stop with what you ar doing at 3pm and see how many push-ups you can do. Try it and you’ll see. It gets you moving and wakes you up.
Do the work during your productive hours
You’ll probably notice that you’re productivity shifts during the day. Some are at their best in the morning, others at night. Make use of your most productive time when you work from home, and plan your schedule around it. Save your harder tasks for when you know you have the headspace for it.
Interact with other humans.
Remember: You’re working from home, not the moon. Interacting with other people during the day is allowed. In fact, it’s actually healthy, and a good idea to see another human during the day when most of your work day is spent alone.
Our favorite tools
An important part of working remotely, is using the right tools. We’re lucky that we nowadays have the technology to work from home, and many tools work the same from home as from the office. What are some of the tools we have been work with over the past few years?
With Skype, you can make calls daily for direct verbal communication, share screens, keep goals clear with the team and provide a more personal connection to each person. It is the standard for one on one remote conversations, what makes it so easy to use: everyone uses Skype.
Zoom is another must-have tool for a remote support team for online meetings, video and audio calls, webinars and conference rooms. The online meeting includes whiteboarding, screen sharing, and remote screen control.
Find the perfect meeting time with super easy online appointment scheduling software. Easily integrable with your Zoom account or Mailchimp campaign.
Working together online:
Hands down our favorite software to use for teams. It allows for our whole team to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, no matter where you are.
A great place to store documents, share them with others, and easy to upload from a specific folder from your computer. Remote workers can use this to organize large files, by simply uploading the documents, and even organize them in terms of months and send you a message once the work is submitted.
Sharing documents to external customers is really easy. WeTransfer provides a simple solution for large file sharing.
A great tool to connect your social channels to, and plan and share content with your audience.
An easy to use tool for email campaigns, marketing, pop-up forms, landing pages, and CRM. It’s also easily integrable into your website, for pop-up forms, sign up forms, and other purposes.
For teams that need a lot of beautiful visual content for social media, blogs, or, Canva is an excellent tool. You can easily access Canva from anywhere and build and reuse design templates. The desktop version, in our opinion, works better than the app, and makes it accessible for all your team members.
Evernote is a great note taking solution for teammates working remotely. You can keep all your notes organized, sync it automatically across all your devices.
Expensify is a great tool and business system to manage expenses, transactions, and money matters through its real-time data and reporting processes.
Getting used to working home or remotely usually takes some time. What remote working software do you have in your toolbox? Share with us in the comments section below.
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