When we look back on the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most overriding shared experiences may well be remote working. Almost overnight, the way we worked fundamentally changed, with social distancing and lockdowns forcing millions of people around the world to work from home.
It is important to remember that remote working is experienced by individuals in different ways. Some people have relished the disappearance of the daily commute, embracing the free time to capture more of a work-life balance – whether through exercise or more time with family. For other people, remote working has created a complex set of challenges in their lives. Employers need to work hard to support those who may be struggling at this time, particularly the sick, isolated, vulnerable, anxious or those with caring commitments for others. Successful remote working does not happen overnight. However, there are small changes businesses can make to quickly improve the lives of employees and help them continue to thrive in the COVID-19 world.
- Instead of scheduling hour long meetings, limit them to 30-45 mins. This gives you time to breathe and gather your thoughts between meetings.
- Be mindful of early morning and end of day meetings. Whilst there are not any commutes, some of your colleagues may have other obligations, such as childcare.
- Schedule your lunch break into your diary and take it.
- Introduce walking on the phone meetings – it’s good to move throughout the day and standing up will change the energy and dynamic of the call.
- Create time to do things you would normally do as part of your commute (reading/reflecting/walking) as part of your remote working routine.
- Be honest with your team about how you are feeling.
- If you are having a bad day, take a breath, meditate and stick to your routine.
- Look out for your colleagues - take the time to check-in with them over the phone. This is particularly helpful when getting to know new starters, who might feel a little bit overwhelmed starting a job remotely.
- Move your work location around your house.
- Create a support system – whether that be with colleagues, friends or family.
A new way of working
More remote working is likely to be one of the long-lasting effects of the pandemic, and as a result, it is important to take the time to think about how to do it properly.
Businesses need to be innovative, rethinking how to keep their teams supported and motivated – wherever they are. Technology has proven its worth here during the pandemic, keeping people connected and the wheels of business turning. However, used without due thought, tech can quickly make remote work a struggle for all involved – growing concerns about ‘video-call fatigue’ in the corporate world says it all.
It is crucial for organisations to take the lead here, helping guide employees to successfully build a tech-driven, balanced approach to remote working that works for them.