As the coronavirus pandemic forces many employees to work from home, can your business stay productive – and safe?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has officially been categorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic, meaning infection is accelerating in multiple countries concurrently. Many countries have declared travel bans, closed schools and universities, and large gatherings of people have been put on hold.

High-profile companies such as Google and Microsoft are encouraging that staff adopt a work-from-home policy. Many companies, should have the infrastructure and policy needed for remote working already in place and hopefully the vast majority of staff members are already laptop users.

In order for staff to be productive from home, there are common requirements that all remote workers will need. We recommend:

An encrypted laptop for both work and home

(essential)

Chat and conferencing applications

(desirable)

A good internet connection / VPN

(essential)

A dedicated workspace or desk at home

(desirable)

Office 365 with SharePoint integration

(desirable)

Monitor, keyboard, mouse, dock and phone

(desirable)

Whether by choice or by necessity, working from home does come with several benefits, such as avoiding a long daily commute. However, it also means employees need to motivate themselves and try to get as much out of their time as they would in an office setting.

For many people, remote working will be something new that may take a little getting used to. Below are a few tips for working remotely from the Custard team to help you make the most out of the current situation. Share these tips with your employees to keep them productive and collaborative as they work from home.

Tip 1: Establish a designated workspace

You should try to confine your workspace to a specific area in your home so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members and so you can concentrate fully. You need a designated space as your workstation instead of checking emails, voicemails or making calls in front of the TV or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet where you can concentrate throughout the day.

Tip 2: Keep your daily morning routine

When you work in an office, the daily routine of getting ready and commuting helps your brain get ready for the day. When you’re working remotely, you can prepare yourself for work in a similar way, like exercising, watching the morning news, or making a coffee, as you would on a normal working day.

Tip 3: Avoid distractions

Distractions are one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. To keep your brain in the right mode, avoid doing non-work tasks during your work time. Establish water-tight psychological boundaries so you’re not constantly reminded of temptations around you (there’s chocolate in the fridge) or unfinished personal tasks — such as doing laundry, vacuuming or re-organising your freezer — that otherwise could compromise your productivity. Only complete these personal activities outside of work hours, as you normally would.

Tip 4: Stay motivated with a to-do list

A simple to-do list can do wonders for keeping you organised and productive as you work from home. Make sure you write or type out your list using apps like Microsoft To Do instead of just having it in your head. You won’t have to devote headspace to constantly remembering what you have to do, and the pleasure of crossing tasks off your list can help you stay motivated.

Tip 5: Create a process for collaboration

Working from home might seem like a solo experience, but it usually still involves interacting with others, so it is important to set up methods for collaboration while you work remotely. Talking face-to-face can help collaboration, so it is worth considering group chat software and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, as a way to have regular check-ins with your team. While email can be effective for making an official decision or passing on information, inboxes can get clogged up quickly. If you need to ask a quick question or send an update to your team, chat apps like Google Hangouts or Slack are a great alternative.

Tip 6: Avoid cabin fever

Now that you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time at home, get outside as much as possible with gardening or even just walking around the block. Mounting research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, enjoy other areas of your home: watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a nice meal. And lead as much of a full social life out of work hours as possible. Use Facetime, Facebook or Skype with friends and family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about.

Let us help you with your COVID-19 work from home plan

Our team of IT experts can help prepare you for a potential coronavirus outbreak within your business, with a solid work from home plan and the necessary software and technology upgrades to cause the least disruption to your business.

Why not give our friendly team a call on 0800 001 4199 or email us at [email protected]. We’re here to help make sure your business is ready, for any eventuality.

About Custard Technical Services

Custard are a team of technicians, engineers, salespeople and directors (but above all, we’re a bunch of geeky gurus).

We’ve got over two decades of experience in the IT industry, delivering friendly jargon-free IT support and services for businesses across the East Midlands and the UK. We are a fast-growing company that support businesses across many different sectors, from manufacturing companies to charities.

We work to create a company culture that sustains a motivated workforce and encourages personal development to ensure our team thrive. Our employees are given opportunities to develop and learn new skills, attend team building events and are awarded for their dedication.