Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home has developed from a perk to a necessity. It was once the domain of relatively few managers and higher-paid workers but with the onset of the Coronavirus, all that changed and many people who never had the opportunity to work from home before were thrust into having to create a workspace and worry about their Zoom call backdrop.

What nobody was really prepared for is quite how long this ‘temporary’ period is likely to last. Employees are becoming more accustomed to working from home, businesses are finding that workers are more productive and that operations haven’t stalled as feared. Employees aren’t keen to tackle the daily commute and some big businesses have advised their people that they’ll be working from home well into 2021 and perhaps even permanently.

With a raft of collaboration software options available, the transition to remote-working was easier than many business leaders thought it might be, even for those who hadn’t embraced digital working practices before. Collaboration software and video conferencing tools allow employees to communicate and share documents on large projects from home more easily.

The best collaboration software allows people to manage tasks and deadlines, to see what other teams are managing and to find the best person to solve issues in the workflow. Microsoft Office 365 is a well-used and popular collaboration package, along with Slack, Asana, Podio and Trello. Each have slightly different features and may suit your needs better than another so if you’re thinking of changing or upgrading your software, do your research first.

Maintaining a large workforce remotely has its challenges but cloud and web-based technology has stepped in to help keep communication channels open and teams have become closer, with a 20 minute daily catch-up rather than a laborious weekly meeting.

For some people, being away from the office has meant they can focus on a project and collaborate with a wider range of colleagues via technology, everyone is available and the ‘silo mentality’ is less prevalent. The technology seems to allow not just the loudest to have input in the discussion and managers can use it to encourage good team working. Collaboration and communication software has allowed for more flexible working along with the addition of commuting time to the workday.

However, it takes some adjustment to maintain a work-life balance and have the discipline to shut down the laptop at the end of the day. If you’ve fallen into a rut of unhealthy work from home habits, here’s a reminder of best practice:

  1. Ideally set up a workspace without distractions and have everything you need around you. Make your space work for you with a good chair, background music, slippers, etc.
  2. Make sure your internet connection, hardware and software, remote access to company network, etc. are in place and you know where to get IT support if needed.
  3. Get dressed into work clothes to mentally ‘go to work’.
  4. Create a daily list of realistic, achievable tasks to focus on.
  5. Set your work hours and take regular breaks. Switch off your computer at the end of your working day.
  6. Contribute to group or team chats to stay visible and don’t forget the ‘water cooler’ chat by checking in on colleagues.
  7. Ask for help when you need it, don’t suffer in silence if you need extra training or support. Your manager and team members can help with advice or practical solutions.

Businesses have proven that, through the pandemic, they can adapt working practices to maintain operations and support their staff with the use of technology and a cultural shift in work patterns. We will learn a lot from this period and perhaps will never go back to the ‘old ways’ of working.

If you need support moving your business forward through these challenging times, CRM’s 8 Step Business Improvement Programme may have some answers to your questions. Read our blog on business improvement against a Coronavirus backdrop here and get in touch to discuss your needs on 01865 379272.

Sage Accountant Partner Logoiris kashflowFreeagent