With a shift towards a new ‘normal’ where people work from home, maintain a 2-metre distance in public places and children are home schooled, we have had to find way to adapt and have had to cope with very challenging times. Our Business Development Manager, James Baker, reflects on his time working from home and shares some hacks he has found to make his life easier.
‘Having worked remotely for over 50% of my working life, I can tell you that there are very little similarities between working from home during a pandemic and ‘normal’ remote working. For one, there has only ever been school holidays when the kids have been around the house so much, but even then, time has been booked up with activities and outdoor play areas. I have never experienced this amount of time at home with the whole family, whilst it has been nice, sometimes, it can also be frustrating when trying to get work done. I have, however, found a few little hacks that can make our life’s a little bit more comfortable whilst working at home.
Getting up at 7am, showering, having breakfast with the kids and then leaving for work for 9am, no longer exists. The typical remote working advice is to do as you do if you were planning to work from the office, but just skip the commute. I’m sorry to tell you, but it ain’t gonna work like that, especially if you have kids. Trust me, this is coming from real-life experiences. So, what can we do to get our work done, keep the kids occupied and try to achieve a calmness around the ‘Hoffice’.
If you have kids, especially younger ones, you need to accept that you will need to adjust your working hours. It may make your days longer, but it will be worth it in the end, you will remain productive and the kids will have your time that they need. If there are two of you working from home, get used to shift working, this is the new normal people. And you know what, you might just enjoy the distraction free 7am starts, I know I do.
Record your activity each day and make a point to add comments under each hour worked, this is important for three reasons.
- You have a record that you can provide to management if required
- If you need to take a break, you know how much time that you have left to make up for the day
- You will become more productive as you are challenging yourself to complete and document the work that you are doing each workday.
I use the HoursTracker app for this purpose, available on both Android and iOS.
Collaborate & Communicate
I have never used social messaging as much as I have over the last 8 weeks. It is now vastly becoming my replacement for email, I’m actually hoping that this will remain post-pandemic and we don’t just go back to our old ways. Here at C5, our preference is for Microsoft Teams and I must say that we have a pretty good set-up internally. As well as project and departmental groups, I have also created personal groups with the people that I communicate with the most. I have also created favourite groups based on their technical experiences, all related files are right there in the group and linked back to SharePoint for easy and quick access.
I performed a short test to see how long an email was replied too vs a Team message. On average I would receive a Team’s reply in under 1 hour, and an email reply within 5 hours. When working to project deadlines, this time is invaluable.
Working from home during a pandemic presents many potential health issues. Without your health, you cannot work or look after your kids. Therefore, you must make sure that this is your number one priority before anything else. Start by talking regular screen breaks, once an hour get up and walk around, even head outdoors, your body and mind will thank you for it. Also have a glass of water close to your working area to sip regularly, being dehydrated and overworked is not a good combination. You could also try to exercise every day, even if for only 20 minutes, walk, run, circle with or without kids, just do it.
If we look beyond COVID-19, there will be some fundamental shifts that are likely to stay so we should prepare ourselves for this now. There will be less business travel, higher hygiene awareness and more companies will operate remotely. From a technology standpoint we will see accelerated migration of on-premise software to the cloud and there will be many cascading effects that we are still unable to assess properly which will be exposed in the coming weeks and months.
To conclude, are we really working from home or are we just protecting ourselves, our families and the vulnerable in our community from a virus and hoping to get some work done at the same time?’
Get in touch if you would like to find out more about how C5 Alliance can implement technology solutions to enable your organisation to productively remote work at email@example.com or call +44 1534 633 733