In 2020, the pandemic forced a large number of people out of the office and into their own homes as a means of public safety. Now, it looks likely that a large percentage of the workforce will continue to work away from the traditional office environment on a permanent basis. Indeed, remote working is fast becoming the “new normal” for many corporations, with some exploring the option of more flexible working styles. This raises questions about how employers and employees alike can make the most of this situation. Here are some useful suggestions that may help you.
Establish a Routine
Working in your own space and time can sometimes be more of a burden than a blessing, as you are now more responsible for your own productivity. Set clear, regular working hours for yourself, and stick to them as much as you can. Being flexible is one of the bonuses of remote working, but make sure this does not interfere too much with your personal time.
You should also try to establish when you are most productive during the working day. If you find that you get more work done before lunch, for example, try to keep that period free of meetings. This will ensure you are using your most productive hours to get difficult work done.
Separate your Work and Personal Time
Having a home office or even using your bedroom for work purposes can create significant overlap between your work and relaxation time, and it is important to keep the two separate to maintain your own wellbeing as well as productivity.
If you can, try to establish physical distance between your personal and working life. Use a separate phone number to field phone calls if you’re away from your desk. If your house has the space for it, you can keep your work confined to a separate room from where you rest and sleep.
Invest in Cyber-Security Solutions
As remote working has become more prevalent, so too have concerns about the security of organisations’ network. Hackers are increasingly trying to breach a business’s defences, so it is extremely important to ensure that they are being secured. Common steps that should be encouraged by your IT or information security teams include keeping your passwords strong and safe (changing them regularly where appropriate), as well as utilising two factor authentication where possible. Taking steps to keep sensitive data securely stored, treating unknown emails with caution and taking steps to mitigate the risk of phishing scams are also now part of every responsible organisation’s security strategies.
Many organisations will use VPN software to allow employees to access their work from outside the office, but VPNs also have security benefits, as they shield your browsing activity from external observers. It’s a good idea to keep your VPN on as much as possible.
Beware, however, that companies using VPNs can normally view what you’re doing on them, so again make sure to keep your personal and working lives separate by turning off your VPN once your working day has ended.
For valuable advice tailored to the specific requirements of your organisation, seek the help of a respected and qualified cyber security consultancy.
Seek Training Opportunities
Being out of the office may mean that you are missing valuable opportunities to learn new skills, or improve existing skills. Some companies will run online training courses for their employees, and you should try to find out whether your employer has these available. Developing new skills will not only make you a more valued member of your current team, but will also boost your future employment opportunities.
As organisations are gradually returning to the office, more opportunities will arise to attend training courses in person. Make sure you are up-to-date about the goings on in the office and try to go into the office for courses when you can.
Socialise with your Colleagues
As many of us will already know, working from home can be a lonely experience, as you no longer have access to people to chat to or bounce ideas off of. Remote working software such as Microsoft Teams or Slack has a chat functionality, and you should definitely use it to try and simulate the office “buzz” that is missing from your home.