How to work remotely as businesses across the country prepare for lockdown
The Victorian government announced on Monday a State of Emergency in Victoria to combat COVID-19.
Mass gatherings of more than 500 people are banned and travellers entering Australia must self-isolate for 14 days.
Many businesses have forced employees to work from home due to health concerns and many more are preparing for the move as the likelihood of a lockdown increases.
- Using centralised smart tools
- Re-creating a virtual environment similar to the “office”
- Being aware of the challenges of remote working
Track tasks and deadlines in a central tool
For teams that meet regularly and have a whiteboard to track their progress, this can be easily moved to a central cloud-based tool. Communications platforms that enable meetings to occur virtually, over voice and/or video are enabling remote working teams to operate more seamlessly than ever before. There are a plethora of secure project management tools available that allow for a common shared virtual workspace and kanban boards that can be shared with the whole team. Anywise leverages a number of tools, and in many cases ensures tools are tailored to the project, with examples of these tools consisting of G Suite, Hangouts, Trello, Coda and Bitrix24.
Keeping everything in one location means every team member can see what they’re responsible for and what other people are working on. It also means greater transparency and trust in each team member to get the job done in a timely manner.
Cultivating a virtual environment
Creating and cultivating a virtual environment can be tricky, and requires some effort and thought. Finding ways to increase familiarity and reduce other distractions can often make the difference between an average experience and a productive one. A few things to consider, good meeting etiquette applies to both real meetings and virtual. Be present in the meeting, (PLEASE don’t be distracted by devices). When not talking and if you are in a noisier environment, practise going on mute unless you are speaking.
Just because you cannot walk up to someone and have a casual conversation, it doesn't mean you should stop the casual conversations. Project managers should check in with the team regularly and offer support for those who may be affected by the virus. Team members should also help each other if one person is overloaded and needs a hand.
Common challenges of working remotely
Not everyone thrives on working remotely and as Australia watches people panic buying toilet paper, there are a plethora of things on people’s minds, such as will my child’s school get shut down? How will I work from home if my kids are there? Will I be able to buy pasta at the supermarket?
Humans are social creatures so working from home isn’t ideal for everyone. Some people find it quite isolating or frustrating if they can’t get in contact with someone straight away. In an office setting it’s easy to knock on someone’s door or walk over to your workmate’s desk and ask them a question, but you can’t do that from home.
People who aren’t accustomed to working from home shouldn’t expect people to respond immediately but if they’re not getting any response at all it’s probably good to check in as a team. If a person feels isolated, it can cause them to withdraw and stop contributing to a project which reduces the effectiveness of the team.
It’s a good idea to encourage regular interaction between team members. Even setting up smaller groups within the team by pairing people up so each person has a ‘buddy’ they can talk to if they need support.
Learn from those that have done it before
Anywise has a history of running and supporting remote teams delivering projects on time and on budget, often in different time zones. We are well geared to respond to quick changes to the working environment and operate with remote teams, whilst delivering value to our clients. We also acknowledge the impact and challenge that remote work can bring to those that may not have practised or rehearsed it before, and welcome the opportunity to help coach clients, suppliers, and peer organisations in seamlessly transitioning to remote teams productively.