How to cope with remote working in the new ‘normal’

woman working from home, remote working, flexible working, woman on computer in living roomThe COVID-19 pandemic has fast tracked an already growing requirement to cater to a remote workforce.

Never before has it been more important to provide a supportive, healthy and engaging employee experience; no matter where your teams are located.

Anand Verma, CEO and Founder of the tech giant Infosys owned Brilliant Basics’ main priority is the wellbeing of his employees. Many of his newer employees are not used to the home-working environment and since COVID-19 hit our shores back in January, Anand believed that a home lockdown would soon be in the pipeline so he struck while the iron was hot.

Anand was keen to ensure his employees continued to feel well-adjusted to a new routine & rhythm and to help them in what has become their new normal. He with his COVID-19 Response team produced a work routine for all of his staff so that they could make the switch from office to home with ease and without affecting them mentally or disrupting their daily pattern. There was almost 100 per cent success in switching from physical environment to home environment.

Anand rapidly provided his employees with a playbook surrounding this important and timely topic and how to get the best working experience for them whilst spurred by the specific situation we were all put in. In addition, he ensured that any stumbling blocks such as the lack of access to high speed Wifi at home, working desk, chair were removed instantly. In fact his team also worked quickly to provide care packages for their weekly Chai Wednesdays rituals, arranging Meditation and Yoga to ensure employee wellness and reduce isolation fatigue, ensuring that employees morale score were measured to continuously support them with various tactics.

This playbook will continue to evolve as both he Anand and the Brilliant Basics employees share the learnings, tips and tricks surrounding this important and timely topic. Whilst spurred by the specific situation we currently face, this REX Playbook will set a standard for remote work which can be carried into your post-COVID organisational planning.

1. Make your space work for you

We all have our favourite spots to work from in the office and the same should apply at home.

Find a spot you like and set yourself up with everything you need to work. Bonus points for a good dose of natural light. Try to keep this space consistent through the week and fill it with things that inspire you and make you happy.

2. FaceTime

A picture paints a thousand words and silence is deafening… But seriously – so much of our communication with one another is through body language. Simple things like turning on your video when joining calls lets people know you’re engaged and will help them understand the points you’re making. It’s also just nice to see a friendly face!

3. Dress for success

We’re lucky to work in an environment where personal style and self-expression is welcomed and celebrated. Each of us takes pride in our appearance and how we walk into the office each day.

Not only does this make us feel good about ourselves, it also puts us in the right frame of mind to work. Whilst it may be tempting to stay in PJ’s all day, starting your day with a fresh set of threads can really set you up for success.

4. Find your power hours

We all work and operate best at different times of the day. Some of us are morning people and most productive alongside that first coffee. Others are more productive in the afternoon and evenings. Set yourself a schedule which maximises on these power hours and be sure to communicate it with your team and line manager. Take time to understand how the rest of your team operates and how best to support them. For young families and vulnerable folks move away from activity based working to outcome and output focused.

5. Use the right tool for the right job

Which tools and platforms do you use for communication and collaboration? When’s it necessary to e-mail and when would an instant message suffice? Consider the importance and tone of different conversations and set clear guidelines for when each platform/tool is appropriate. Instant Messaging caters to the broadest spectrum and your environments should be setup with separate channels for projects teams, company announcements, social gathering and so on.

6. Get your head in the cloud

Just because we’re not sat next to each other it doesn’t mean we can’t be as collaborative. Think about the best way to manage your documents and which cloud services will enable your teams to work most efficiently. Signing into iCloud will mean everyone can work on Keynotes locally.

7. Become a Slack (or similar) super user

Slack, or whatever your preferred IM platform, is a great tool when less structured conversations need to take place. They can be a great replacement for those quick check-ins which used to happen over desks and coffees. Remember to use your statuses to show colleagues when you’re available, when you’re in meetings and when you’ve taken 15 minutes out to get some fresh air and step away from the screen.

8. Keep connected

We’re all social and emotional creatures. Whilst it’s important to focus on getting our work done, our success is defined by our ability to collaborate and share ideas with people we trust and get along with. Take time to connect socially with your colleagues. Whether it’s a scheduled coffee-break over Zoom, or a lunchtime FaceTime, maintaining these relationships is hugely beneficial.

9. Take a breath of fresh air

It’s as important at home as it is at the office to take time to get outside. Get some fresh air, stretch your legs and give your mind a chance to reset. For those of us self-isolating this can be as simple as opening some windows, getting out of our chairs and away from the laptop screen. Plan these breaks ahead of time and use them to re-energise.

10. Manager Checklist

See below for Anand’s top ten tips for all managers to consider:

  1. Reset expectations – life will get in the way
  2. Be transparent to staff and clients
  3. Over communicate – no invisible staff
  4. Adjust schedules for longer days and more breaks
  5. Set standards for tools and behaviours (when to slack, e-mail, VC, etc…)
  6. Create and play with rituals
  7. Take time away from the screen (work and play)
  8. Keep fit
  9. Stay social
  10. Look outside of your organisation

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