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Isolate, don’t hibernate: How to get the most out of working from home

For businesses across many industries, working from home has become the ‘new normal’ in the face of COVID- 19. This has proven to be a challenge for many organisations as employees try to navigate setting up an effective workspace, manage distractions such as other loved ones working from home and children partaking in homeschooling; all whilst trying to maintain ‘business as usual’ even though this is anything but that.

‘Working from home’ doesn’t have to translate to ‘working alone’, and the team at GlobalX have created some top tips on how you can remain engaged, visible and well during this uncertain period of time.

Create a routine and stick to it

While routines are easy to establish and done with the best of intentions, they can easily unravel when we’re living and working in the one space. Here’s some advice on creating routines and maintaining them:

  1. Write a list of reasons why routines are important (e.g. work-life balance, stability, good mental health etc.) and display in somewhere visible as a constant reminder to stay on track.
  2. Set an alarm every workday and leave it away from arm’s reach so you’re not tempted to hit “snooze”.
  3. On a workday, schedule in exercise, breakfast, lunch and regular breaks (aim for a few 10-minute bouts of fresh air each day) – make sure each activity triggers a reminder notification on your phone.
  4. Work from the same space each day – the occasional “work from the couch or bed day” may seem tempting, but if you wouldn’t do that in your regular office, refrain from doing it at home to try and maintain normality.
  5. Try, where possible, to log-off at the same time each day. Once you’ve logged off for the day, don’t log-on until the next morning. Now, more than ever, we need to achieve a healthy work-life balance despite technology being at our fingertips 24/7.
  6. Bring home some “creature comforts” from the office.  If you’ve got a plant, photos, nice cards from clients, or any special stationery on your desk, take it and set it up in your home workspace to bring more of a sense of “business as usual” to your makeshift working arrangements. Similarly, if you weren’t able to bring in your favourite candle or oil diffuser into the office, now’s the time to use them to help create a more comfortable environment that works for you.

Stay social

It’s the time for physical isolation, but it doesn’t mean we should be going into hibernation. In fact, with your whole workforce working remotely, now is the most important time to schedule in regular virtual meetings and social catchups with your colleagues.

  1. If you’ve got colleagues you regularly share lunch with, keep this up virtually. Work a time into your routine each day for a lunch catchup via a virtual meeting platform such as Zoom or legal industry-specific tool Legaler. Make sure you set aside 10 minutes after this for a walk around the block before you settle back in for the afternoon.
  2. Have daily team meetings, and where time allows make them virtual coffee meetings via a video platform such as the ones mentioned above – allowing everyone to step away from their desks, grab some pen and paper, make a cup and take a breath of fresh air.
  3. If you do Friday knock-off drinks or similar, keep this going virtually! Maintaining these initiatives also assists team members with keeping a routine and a sense of normality.
  4. Introduce virtual trivia, games, a “Pets Working from Home” group chat, or any other team-building initiatives to help with morale and company culture. No matter whether your business has 10 or 100 people, human interaction is one of the most important things during this challenging time.
  5. If you’re a larger firm, hold regular all-staff briefings to ensure all employees keep updated on the state of your business and any changes to working conditions.

Keep your daily tasks visible and collaboration open

If you’re in a team, or even just working by yourself, using a digital task management tool such as the bespoke in-house legal matter management system Xakia or free online platform Trello is effective in showing the work you have in progress, what needs attention and what’s been completed. This gives all team members greater visibility of each other’s workload, a timeframe for tasks and current priorities. It also mitigates the need for regular follow-ups via email and instant messaging.

Working from home for a long period of time is a new concept for most of us, but where possible it’s important to create familiarity and normality. The tips listed in this article are the first steps in creating a productive working environment at home and, once implemented, will help your business be resilient and viable during these uncertain times.