Thursday, 02 April 2020
What’s the best way to deal with the isolation of working from home? We explore how to structure your day to ensure you and your team remain productive and keep up morale during the coronavirus pandemic.
While many businesses already utilise homeworking arrangements for some of their staff, the coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands to quickly adopt this model for most, if not all, of their teams. Working remotely has its challenges, but many businesses are reporting positive outcomes and are finding novel ways to help staff structure their working day and keep up their morale.
For many people, homeworking in the current climate will raise issues around childcare. Erica Wolfe-Murray, author of Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger, Better Business, recommends that if you and your partner are both working from home and have children, you should discuss when each of you works best: morning, afternoon or evening. “Let each person work at their optimum time, while the other looks after the children,” she says.
Working from home requires a conscious effort to structure the day. Jake Newport, managing director of sauna company Finnmark, recommends sticking to a task list and dividing your day into compartments. “Early morning I cover all finance requirements and requests, late morning I speak to the marketing and e-commerce teams about strategy and then into the afternoon I deal with the warehouse teams. It helps me be as efficient as possible with my time,” he says.
Visibilis, a 25-person digital marketing agency, has set up daily team catch-ups as well as an all-agency video call on Mondays and Fridays. “On Monday, each team member runs through three things they want to achieve that week, and on Friday, each person reports what they achieved,” says managing director and owner Daisy Wolfenden. “This is imperative to keep us all focused when we’re managing our own time and workload, and also gives us a chance to feed back to individuals on prioritising tasks.”
Online communication is vital not only for prioritising tasks but also to keep morale up – so be creative with the way you use it.
“We’re about to start introducing virtual team socials, such as a coffee morning and a pub quiz,” says Wolfenden. “A relaxed and conversational culture is really important to our team and how we work, and we’re keen not to let that falter in these times.”
The importance of regular contact with your team should not be underestimated. Wolfe-Murray warns that radio silence can be worrying to those who are already in an anxious state.
“Consider starting a ‘buddy’ system encouraging colleagues to regularly contact each other, ensuring everyone speaks to someone at least once a day”
“Be aware of those who live alone and may be struggling,” she says. “Consider starting a ‘buddy’ system encouraging colleagues to regularly contact each other, ensuring everyone speaks to someone at least once a day.”
Gympass, a company that enables businesses to give their employees access to thousands of workout facilities globally, routinely allocates 10 minutes on a Monday for its team to meditate or stretch together – and they are now doing this virtually.
The company has also held a company-wide virtual meeting where everyone brought a book, podcast, movie, TV show or Ted Talk recommendation and spoke about it to the team. “It went down really well and helped connect people,” says Pietro Carmignani, Gympass CEO for UK, Ireland and Netherlands.
Ultimately, the aim is to ensure that you and your team maintain structure, achieve a healthy work-life balance, and keep in regular contact. Here are six tips to help you achieve that.