When the government asks to avoid crowded places, using telework is the only solution to maintain business continuity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When many cases of contamination by the new coronavirus have been detected during the last week, our daily life has totally changed. Traffic is minimal, shops are closed, and the streets are almost deserted. The inhabitants are obliged to respect the isolation rules imposed by their authorities, the same for businesses & entreprises.
Telework on the one hand protects the health of fellow citizens and on the other hand allows business continuity for the company. Many companies have negotiated telework agreements, but few employees are prepared to work from home. For them, this is a new and questioning practice.
Fortunately, thanks to the Internet and technological advances, working remotely has become easier. Many companies have decided to respond favorably by offering their cloud service (SaaS) telework offer for free.
But teleworking also has some drawbacks, especially in the context where the other members of the family are at home all day. I find myself obliged to participate in video meetings, follow the developments of Covid-19, chat online with my friends, do the shopping, do the cooking and cleaning, etc.
In fact, it’s more stressful than usual.
Here are some tips to gain efficiency while working from home:
1. Keep a Daily Schedule
It is not recommended to start working as soon as you get out of bed. Better to keep a morning routine, like showering, getting dressed, having breakfast, having coffee in front of your computer before you start working. Personally, the ritual at the beginning of the day helps me a lot to get in condition.
During the day, the hours can be more flexible, for example, you can work at lunchtime and take a nap at 3 p.m, but it is important to have a ritual, at least in the morning. You also need to take breaks, as you would at the office with the coffee break: you can take a quick shower or read a book.
Time Blocking is also a better way to approach our day and get things done. It’s a time management approach that focuses on your daily structure instead of trying to predict how long each task will take. So the purpose of time management is enabling people to get more and better work done in less time and that means that you have to be productive for extended periods of time.
Why we should time block ? Isn’t To-Do-List good enough to get things done?
Unfortunately the answer is No! To-Do-Lists are great and practical but you don’t want them to run your life. The time blocking on the other hand gives you a better visibility on a big picture, flexibility without the risk of losing things in a shuffle and the satisfaction of knowing that you made most out of your day.
Read more about Time Blocking :
- Time blocking 101: A step-by-step guide to getting the most from your daily schedule
- The 5 Best Time Blocking Apps in 2019
2. Create a Space Dedicated to Work
Make sure the place you select is used exclusively for working/studying and nothing else. If you have the possibility, it is important to arrange a space entirely dedicated to work, which you can enter and exit as if you enter and leave the office. While working from home, you may be tempted to watch TV or listen to loud music. So, having a dedicated place can help you focus more and avoid distractions. It will create a real physical break with your private life.
When you’re working from home, you need calm and focus. Unless you work very early in the morning or very late in the evening, you cannot be both the person who watches over your kids, little brothers or little sisters, and the one who works. They usually make noise and try to interrupt you. If they stay at home, which is certainly the case with the epidemic, try to wear headphones in order to isolate yourself from noise and close the door of your room dedicated to work.
Moreover, when you’re at home, you tend to work on your laptop from your couch or bed. That’s a bad idea, because you are more likely to slip into the path of least resistance which is usually taking a nap or binge watching a show on Netflix. It is better to keep a sitting position like the one we take at the office, to get up regularly so as not to remain too static.
3. Find the Best Tools to Communicate
One of the aspects on which companies must act, even beyond the implementation of telework, is communication. An investment in means of communication up to the current digitalization of companies is necessary. For the time being, companies have not yet all adopted the employee management / steering component via collaborative tools.
While teleworking, you have to keep chatting with your colleagues, via corporate messaging. We can chat, talk about light topics, make jokes, keep the link, and close the messaging when we need to be focused. For meetings, we use videoconferencing, for not too critical emergencies, SMS. The telephone is more for big emergencies or complex subjects.
As an employer, you shouldn’t put pressure on your employees by harassing them with calls or emails. It is better to operate by assigning tasks, so that the person organizes his time as he can. As an employee, you don’t play dead, when you have a task to do, just try to fix a deadline and stick to it.
Here are some sites, tools and applications that I use frequently. You may find them useful for organizing your work and for communicating with your colleagues :
Slack : Where work happens
When you don’t have direct access to your colleagues, the idea is to avoid multiplying emails. Even if they remain a major tool at work, some team instant messaging applications can reduce email exchanges and speed up the transfer of messages.
Slack allows you to create organized group conversations (other team members must be registered too). The conversations are archived which makes it easy to look for a specific subject later.
A limited and free version exists for small teams, other packages ranging from 6.67 $ US / month to 12.50 $ US / month are available for larger companies or to have more developed options.
TeamViewer : The new standard for remote control and remote support
It’s a tool to take control of a machine remotely if you need to troubleshoot one of your employees.
Find the right license that fits your needs here.
Trello : Organize anything with anyone, anywhere!
Alone or in a team, Trello allows you to create projects by distributing tasks, by adding attachments visible to other collaborators and also allows to couple with other applications like Slack, Google Drive or DropBox.
Klaxoon : The Meeting Revolution
A provision allowing tables where everyone can put their ideas on a project. Ideal when all members of the same team are not present or only a few. It’s free during the first 3 months.
WeTransfer : To Share Files
WeTransfer is a tool for exchanging files that are too large to fit in a simple — e-mail attachment.
Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom
For me, these are the best three existing tools which allow you to have meetings by webcam.
The best video conferencing solution for work
Zoom offers videoconferencing, audio conferencing, chat and webinar functionality on mobile devices, desktops and meeting room systems. Its free version can host up to 100 participants and organize unlimited individual meetings. However, group meetings are limited to 40 minutes. Zoom also offers paid versions for small teams from 14.99 $ per month and for small and medium businesses at 19.99 $ per month.
The best free video conferencing solution
Google Hangouts is a video conferencing application built into G Suite that lets people join meetings via a web link that they can open on their laptop, mobile app, or a phone line. Because of Coronavirus, the Google Hangouts Meet video conferencing service is now free for all G Suite users until July 1, 2020.
The best solution for group calls
Microsoft Skype is available for free for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. The application allows you to make video and audio calls and also has a messaging function. Its interface is user-friendly and can make up to 50 audio calls (the number of video calls depends on the device used, according to Microsoft). You can also record, save and share your video calls.
Working from home gives you the opportunity to work in optimal conditions, since you have access to all the amenities of your home. Take the opportunity to work on tasks that require concentration.
Not going to the office also saves you possible transport time. Time you can use for example to prepare balanced meals, rather than the traditional sandwich swallowed on the go, or to play sports.
Due to telework, the productivity of the company is considerably affected, but it is certain that health takes precedence over all other interests!
I tried to give you 3 tips that will help you be efficient while working from home. If you have another useful tip, don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments.