Being a company that makes software helping businesses around the world to run their operations and sales more effectively, we never offer our clients something that we haven’t tried ourselves.
That was the case with the recent coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing pandemic threat officially announced by the WHO. Much like other companies and organizations around the world, we decided to switch to working from home (WFH) and did so within just two days.
Here, we would like to share our experience and give some (hopefully) helpful tips you might use in your situation. Of course, it helps a lot when you’re a company that develops tools for remote work and uses them on a daily basis (a part of our team already works from home on a regular basis). But other than that, our case could be considered more or less universal.
Some of you may think that it’s not such a big deal after all - take your laptop, go home and start working from there. Well, it turned out that it wasn’t so easy - we learned it the hard way. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
Before committing to specific actions, get your management together and think through all the details of the upcoming change. Make sure your company and its employees have everything they need to work from home effectively:
One important thing - if it’s not an emergency and you have a few extra days, do a test run leaving a few departments to work home. This will help you to ensure that the new working process runs smoothly and you haven’t forgotten about anything.
Once you’re realized this experience can be scaled and you’ve made all the initial preparations, make a company-wide announcement explaining the reasons why the WFH switch has to be done and how people should act. You can never be too precise here.
Your team needs to know what’s going on and what to expect - in this case, giving specific instructions really helps to ease up the process and avoid any misunderstanding.
Do the same with your business partners as well - let them know you’re still there and will continue to fulfill all your obligations, just in a different format.
Work out a way together on how you can minimize the damages to your operations and keep your business going. Be predictable and respect other people’s interests and concerns.
Take it easy and DO NOT ALLOW PANIC
In highly volatile situations like this where the situation changes rapidly, there’s one thing you shouldn’t do: PANIC. No matter how the media may try to present it, the quarantine is a temporary measure and will be lifted sooner or later.
Your calmness and rational approach to the situation will motivate others to do the same. People always look up to their management and that’s why you should play it cool (and safe).
In fact, the very quarantine measure is designed to prevent the spread of the disease. Therefore, not only should we be not afraid of it but actually try to go on quarantine faster and encourage others to do so.
One week after we’d switched the whole company (which includes several hundred people from offices in 7 different cities in 5 different countries), we sat down to discuss some preliminary results and here’s what we can recommend, in a nutshell.
Get your family together and explain one simple thing: working from home does not equal being on vacation. From now on, you will have to be fully focused on doing your job and therefore cannot be distracted unless it’s an absolute emergency.
As the economies worldwide will probably experience some sort of recession due to global risks, you don’t want to lose your job amidst this nasty crisis.
Remove all the unnecessary distractions and keep only the items you need for work. Ideally, this should be a separate room where you’ll be able to work productively.
Yeah, and if you usually prefer to wear pajamas at home, try not doing so during this quarantine period, especially during video calls. Stick to something more or less formal - something that won’t shock your colleagues.
One line you have to draw in your mind: working remotely does not equal freelancing. You’re still an employee of the same company and the tasks you have are probably still the same.
Don’t slack off or waste your time lying on the couch - stay organized and disciplined.
4. Develop your routines
Coming off the back of the previous tip, staying organized means developing your new routines instead of the ones you had back in the office.
Create a schedule where you wake up, have breakfast, start work, go on breaks, have lunch, rest, etc. at a specific time. This will help you to increase your productivity.
Since chats and video calls are the only available means of communication in this situation, you have to ALWAYS be in touch. Not replying to your boss’s message for more than 15 minutes might raise some suspicion that you’re slacking off.
As face-to-face human interaction is limited nowadays, try making video calls more - we rely on emotions quite heavily during the conversation and that’s why it’s better to see the beautiful, blurred, sleepy faces of your colleagues instead of reading their messages.
Keep in touch with your team members constantly to make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. Share your progress, results, and concerns in a quick manner.
Everyone's an expert on the Internet these days - there’s some much fake news and misinformation floating around now that it would be better to shut off all this noise altogether.
Nothing’s gonna change in this world if you don’t follow the news for a few days. Stay calm and take all the information you learn with a grain of salt.
Spending too much time on social media and reading all this shock-content news most of which is fake anyway will only take away your focus, decrease creativity, and get you more depressed. You don’t want that.
Working from home is a new experience for many people - try to use this time with maximum efficiency. Develop new skills, learn new information, become a better specialist - you might need these later.
Stay human after all - perhaps, even more so than usually. Be nice, acknowledge your teammates’ efforts with a compliment, crack jokes, and fool around if you have to.
Everyone’s a bit uptight these days and that tension needs a release. This quarantine’s gonna end sooner or later and we have to come of it stronger than we were before.