How to work flexibly and productively – the digital first approach is top of mind right now

Nathan Baranowski

Digital Transformation

With the COVID-19 outbreak spreading across the UK, many businesses are suggesting that their employees work from home if they can, non-essential travel is being cancelled, and events are being postponed or moved to online platforms.

The workplace has been changing and adapting for some time, to a more flexible way of operating to suit business needs. With a new decade underway, the “Digital First” approach will become even more essential for all organisations to adopt to ensure they are achieving their long-term objectives. There are many ways digital can respond to the different needs of any business, with basic tools to get started right through to a full digital transformation. The road map will very much depend on your aims, and the experience you want to offer your customers and users. 

As workers everywhere adjust to meeting, chatting, and collaborating more extensively online than maybe many have previously, we wanted to offer some helpful thoughts and tips to help many meet this challenge.  

Getting started - a few key habits will set you up for success. 

Be Disciplined:Key to working at home is discipline.Be clear about what time you will start and finish. Agree these times with your organisation. You might have more flexibility with your hours than you would in your office, its useful to understand what will work. And maybe set up an email response so your clients and colleagues are aware! 

Build in the times and duration of your breaks. For example, plan that you’ll take a break at 11.00am for 15 minutes. If you’re not disciplined, 15 minutes could easily become 30 minutes or longer. Make time for meals, drink plenty of water, and remind yourself to mentally “clock out” from remote work at the end of the day. These behaviours won’t just keep you healthy, they will also help you be more productive in the long run. 

Create a to-do list first thing that morning (or even the night before) so you know exactly what your plan is for the day, and stick to that plan as much as possible. 

Don’t let working from home affect your health. If you walk or cycle to work, working from home takes away the opportunity to get that exercise. Try and make time elsewhere to get that exercise in, it’s important. Your kitchen will probably be closer to your workspace than the office canteen is to your office desk. It can be very tempting to take 10 seconds to walk to the kitchen to grab a snack. Working from home, you might find yourself doing less exercise and eating more, something to be aware of 

Don’t wear pj’s when working from home. Potentially something we all dream of…..however many have suggested that they feel how you dress is too casual, how you work might be too. It often helps to wear work clothes. Working from home might mean dressing as you would for casual Friday in the office but dressing for work gets you in the frame of mind for work. 

Work from a space that you can step away from at the end of the day. It’s important to have a dedicated home workspace where you can be productive and signal that you’re in do-not-disturb mode. A breakfast area, a quiet corner of the bedroom, an underused dining table —any focus-friendly area can double as a workspace If you have a home office that you can close the door behind you at the end of the day, great. If not, work from a space that you have to clear your work from when you’ve finished. The reason is to remove the temptation to go “back” to work for a couple of hours in the evening. It’s very easy to keep working when you work from home and end up spending more time than is good for you. 

Work in a room (if possible) that is bright and airy. Working in a dark office with no natural light can reduce productivity and enjoyment, so do what you can to include a window, or at least plan in regular breaks away. 

Create a tidy workspace. Sometimes easier said than done at home, try to be in an environment that is conducive to effective working.  

Keep your mobile at arm’s length/on silent as and when you don’t need it. If you can, leave it in another room particularly if you’re working on a project and don’t want to be interrupted. You can lose up to an hour a day picking up your phone to check social media platforms. Best to take away the temptation.    

Don’t go stir crazy. Working from home can take a bit of getting used to for some people – going from working in a busy, noisy office to working in quiet isolation. At first, it seems great, then slowly the walls can feel like they are closing in. The silence becomes too loud and you find you need people to interact with. Keep talking where needed to colleagues or clients. Design your calendar to ensure you have regular contact with the outside world. Music can also be a great positive contribution to an effective working day at home or elsewhere. 

Working remotely, including from home can be great, can increase productivity, improve your quality of life and may become necessary for many people over the coming weeks or months. You may well find it more beneficial longer term as it often empowers   

Running effective meetings 

Embrace online formats which can help in the absence of a physical conference room, bringing everyone together. One tip is to ask that all participants turn on video (through laptops and phones) if they are comfortable doing so. The face-to-face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel connected. Devices like headsets and speakerphones can help to make sure you and your co-workers can always communicate clearly. 

Moving to online meetings may remove some of the visual cues we rely on to see if a colleague has something to say in a meeting. And overcrowded conference calls can make it difficult for people to share their opinions. Meeting organizer should pause frequently to invite questions and remind attendees that they can also use the meeting chat window to share their thoughts. 

Staying connected with the Team 

Make up for missing hallway talk which a lot of remote workers find the thing they miss the most about the office, the casual conversations. Chats at the coffee machine or snack area not only keep us connected, they often surface important information or insights we wouldn’t have guessed. Be deliberate about reaching out and connecting with your co-workers. Think of chat messages as your virtual coffee machine and set yourself a reminder to check in with people regularly. Emojis, GIFs, and stickers are a fun way to keep the chatter fun and light. 

Bring the team together when relevant, as working remotely can feel isolating. As a leader, it’s important to create opportunities for the whole team to get together virtually. Maintain your regular team meeting cadence or team lunches, just make them online.  

We would love to hear about any thoughts you have around ways to make working from home or remotely more productive, and healthy.  

 

We are all about digitally transforming organisations through beautifully crafted technology - so please get in touch if you would like to chat further about what this can look like for you. 

 

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