Flexible working, including working from home and remote working, has become a large part of many people’s lives over the past year (and more!) due to the global pandemic. Some of the team here at Specialist Sports were familiar with flexible working but for others, it was a totally new concept.
For me personally, having been field-based in previous roles, I was accustomed to working remotely. However, I would usually have been in the field 3-4 days a week meeting customers or visiting the office. There is a really big difference when you’re forced to work from home full-time!
Over the past year, I’ve gathered some learnings and suggestions for how to work well remotely during a pandemic and beyond.
We’ve all learned quite rapidly how to interact and work in the virtual world. No-one is unaccustomed to a virtual call or meeting anymore, as we may have been pre-February 2020. As a result, you might have found your calendars blocked to the brim with Teams or Zoom meetings, which creates endless lists of organised appointments. But what about those spontaneous conversations, like you have in the office at the coffee station? Sometimes those off-the-cuff meetings are the most productive or creative, as smaller topics can often be handled more productively. So when you’re in the office, don’t block out your diary with meetings. Find time to interact more casually with your work colleagues.
For longer meetings with multiple topics to be covered, a clear agenda is a great and simple way of providing more structure to save time on these calls. Just make sure you also leave time to be creative too.
It’s important to get outdoors and stay active or encourage your team to do so. From training indoors to running at lunchtime, a step away from the desk can be all that’s needed to refresh your mind and help you work more effectively.
If you’ve found your motivation to get outdoors reduced though, you’re not alone. That’s why we (Specialist Sports) introduced our very own sports challenge to increase motivation and bring our team together, albeit we are sometimes so far apart physically.
Your ‘home office’ might be a challenging environment, if you don’t have a separate room or space to work in. More often than not, you may need to use a dining room table, the corner of your living room or a make-shift desk!
Whatever space you use to work, just make sure you create a distinction between your office and home environment. This might mean spending 10 minutes before and after work to set up and break down your area. It could just change your mindset and create the clear boundary you need between your work and home life.
Aside from boundaries, it really is the little things which make all the difference. Did you know natural light and plants have a great impact on our mood? Setting up beside a window, or adding plants to your desk might be the small change which has great impact.
For me, I keep a photograph of my children on my desk at the office, so doing the same at home makes it feel more like my workspace.
As lockdown eases, many of us are beginning to move between the office and home to work. It’s vital your home working space is fully equipped so you can work to the best of your abilities, as you would in the office. An extra screen, a suitable chair, a keyboard; these are just a few examples of what you should have access to at home if you need them. At Specialist Sports, we’re ensuring every employee has everything they need to function well at home, or remotely.
Remote or home-working is likely to continue to be a feature of all our lives for some time and many organisations will not return to how they operated pre-pandemic. Organisations need to adapt, as do employees. To be creative, share ideas effectively, and work productively as a team perhaps a combination of home-working and office working will become the new norm’ even as restrictions ease.