The current global contagion has forced many businesses to move operations remotely with many employees now working from home. Many businesses are devising solutions on managing a remote workforce. TCS has designed its own comprehensive work-from-home module called Secure Borderless WorkSpaces™ (SBWS™) to help employees adapt to a new working environment, by putting in place procedures to ensure data security, client confidentiality and other such sensitive work-related matters. Individual choices, infrastructure set-up, the overall home environment, and organizational policies play key roles in ensuring that working from home is a productive experience. This blog pieces together best practices for remote workers. Here are a few tips on maintaining efficiency and productivity when the lines blur between personal and professional turfs.
Set Expectations on the Home Front
A study on global workforce analytics says that remote working has grown by 140% in 15 years. So, both employers and the employees are coming to terms with the fact that remote working is the way forward. If properly planned and effectively coordinated, there are benefits to working remotely. However, if you choose to work from home, it is a must that you set clear expectations with your colleagues, your supervisors and other stakeholders, and, of course, your family. Setting expectations takes away a fair bit of the pressure that comes with juggling personal and professional responsibilities in the same physical space and is crucial to productivity when working away from an exclusive office environment.
Build Your Tech Arsenal
Among the list of ‘haves’, this one has to be right at the top. Uninterrupted power supply, an internet connection with adequate bandwidth and speed, a sturdy smartphone with sound cellular network and a laptop or desktop with security protocols in place will enable you to be at your productive best. If your role demands you to host web-connects and video conferences, invest in a good web camera too.
Set Up Your Home Office
It is ideal to have an independent room to set up your work station to have a clear demarcation of boundaries. Having a workstation in a separate room not only enhances focus, but also ensures privacy and confidentiality at work. However, if this is not possible, create a dedicated work corner. Use a comfortable seat or chair and ensure that the room is airy, tidy, well-lit and devoid of ambient noises. Avoid having pets or children venture into the workspace room, especially during telecons and videoconferences. Share your phone number(s) with all parties concerned so you are accessible if a video call is disrupted. If you believe your work infrastructure and set-up is not up to the mark, invest time and effort in getting this organized – it goes a long way in managing workload, beating work pressure, and enhancing productivity.
Reach a Consensus on Working Hours
Working in sync with various stakeholders is vital to effective collaboration. Follow mutually agreed upon timings and try to be accommodative of others’ time preferences too. Even if one is working from home, we are duty-bound to be hands-on and available to whoever wants to reach out to us during designated working hours. Share your work schedule with members at home too.
Dress for the Part and Be Prepared
Follow your organization’s dress code policy, particularly if you need to be in a web connect or a video conference. Always be presentable. Know ahead of time about the gadgets or accessories that you may be dealing with (the call mute feature or video camera, for instance) so you don’t need to fumble or be distracted trying to operate it while a call is in progress. Most video call facilities allow one to blur or choose a ‘stock photo’ the background while on camera. If you don’t have the choice to do this, make sure your true background appears presentable and professional.
Don’t Ignore Nutrition
Food and nutrition play huge roles in ensuring workplace productivity. While there are no set organizational dietary dos and don’ts to be followed, it’s only common sense that you eat right to stay alert and energized at work. Most importantly, eat on time. Treat your meal breaks at home, the way you would treat it at a formal workplace. Set a time and stick to it. Remember to stay hydrated.
Maintain Emotional Balance
There could be times when events at home may not be as per your liking. The mental advantage that going to an office provides is that it serves as a solid mental cutoff from the things that bog us down personally. Once we’re at the workplace, in a physically distant environment, it becomes easy to switch modes and frame of mind. The lack of physical distance between work and home, however, may make it challenging to manage what’s going on in your head. However, true professionals always know how to set physical boundaries and manage emotions regardless of their physical environment. Aim to be this person.
If you are leading a team wherein the members are new to remote working, allow them to first settle down with their set up. Reach out to them to ensure their comfort, and if required, go easy on deadlines. To avoid friction at later, have a one-on-one discussion at the first sign of apprehension, miscommunication or confusion.
Work Out a ‘Maker-Checker’ Arrangement
Statistics show that 66% of workers who operate from home feel that their productivity has improved. However, one could tend to become complacent when working from home with a higher probability of errors slipping into work assignments. This is where having a maker-checker technique comes in handy. It involves the supervision of a task by a minimum of two individuals, apart from the one who has completed the task.
Despite the benefits of remote working, the merits that come from a distant office working environment such as developing personal rapport during face-to-face team meetings, in-person collaboration, situational awareness, and group ideation cannot be overlooked. The effectiveness of remote working will be put to the test now more than ever, by both employers and employees.
If you know of best practices for working remotely apart from the ones listed above, please share them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do let us know if this article helped you. We look forward to your feedback.
Stay indoors. Stay safe.
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