Working from home - it’s become a key phrase of our current times. In the UK, in particular, we’re now into our third week of lockdown. If you’re in a similar situation, whether in the UK or elsewhere, perhaps you’re finding that the initial novelty of long-term working from home is starting to wear off. It's a situation many of us need to get to grips with, a challenge for remote working aficionados and novices alike.
For some great working from home tips, see ‘What we can do now’ further below. If you'd like some interesting background and insights, just read on from here.
It’s a gradually growing trend
After a survey of 1,202 full-time workers in the US, OWLLabs discovered that 62% of people had worked from home, whether once a month, a week, three times a week and so on. This is from a survey taken in 2019.
Likewise, the number of people working from home in the UK rose from 884,000 to 1.54 million in 2019 within the space of ten years, according to the BBC.
If we zoom out even further, Merchant Savvy says that 61% of global firms now allow their employees to work remotely. So it’s fair to say that it has become a growing trend in addition to the global situation we find ourselves in within early April 2020. We'll get onto the latter point next.
COVID-19 has clearly changed things
In the wake of the current global coronavirus outbreak, things have clearly shifted gear again. As early as February of this year, many workers in China began experiencing working from home for the first time due to encouragement from both companies and the government, as mentioned by the BBC. Moving things forward to March 26, the official recommendation on the UK’s GOV.UK website asked for businesses and organizations to encourage employees to work from home, “wherever possible”. This continues to be the case. So many of us are now, whether UK-based or not, experiencing long-term working from home perhaps for the first time; this comes with both its perks and its obvious challenges.
What could the change mean?
There’s an argument that says modern tech companies already have the policies and infrastructure to cope, particularly if most of the work is digital-based and requires no more than a computer and a wi-fi connection, ideally secured by a sturdy VPN or virtual private network. But for smaller organizations or firms, the transition may not be (or hasn’t been) quite so simple. This is likely the case if digital communication apps and tools are limited or an organization’s structure simply doesn’t mesh well with working from home in general.
Education will be an interesting sector to watch, especially when you consider that universities already have established online-learning platforms, courses and digitized library materials. But what about high schools and elementary schools, otherwise known as secondary and primary schools? There’s a possibility they could face more challenges if key staff rely on a limited number of desktop computers instead of individual laptops, or children and teens have to resort to using home computers or laptops with the potential to become distracted while in a different perhaps more relaxed environment to their usual classrooms.
There are some positives
While we clearly face challenging times, there are definitely some positives to consider. According to Trello, makers of a visual collaboration platform, as of March 16, a survey showed that 77% of people were more productive while working remotely. The company also points to a different survey in which 82% of people reported greater happiness with remote work. However, it must be said that there’s not a widely shared view across sectors and professions about the benefits of working remotely.
There are many open questions that have yet to be answered, but what we do know is that many of us could be working from home for some time. This includes us at CCleaner. So we’ve brought together a few useful suggestions to help you if you’re currently working from home. This includes a few things we’ve learned along the way.
1. Think about timings and boundaries
It’s quite possible you're spending your weekdays working around your spouse, children or in a shared house or flat with others. This combined with the fact that you’re no longer commuting can make it hard to separate your work and home life. A good tactic is to keep your timings the same as were at the office. If you’re a 9 to 5 person, this means keeping to these working hours and only adjusting them if absolutely necessary. It’s a good idea to set time limits for projects too. Further than this, you can strategize your time around lighter tasks and more intensive tasks. The idea behind all these things is to focus on daily priorities, reduce stress and avoid burnout. At CCleaner, we’re a big fan of project management apps and tools. These provide an excellent way to manage some of the things we’ve just mentioned while keeping your colleagues on the same page, particularly when handling multiple projects.
2. Go outside and take breaks often
If you’re not having to self-isolate at this time, it’s a good idea to get outside at least once a day. Going out for a short stroll in the fresh air, whether in the morning, afternoon or evening, could help refresh your perspective, particularly if you’re stuck with a complex or intensive project. Likewise, this could also be a dog walk, stepping out into a small garden or just opening a window. According to the BBC, as of 17 March, this is an idea supported by Mathew Knight, founder of an organization supporting freelancers and the self-employed, called Leapers.
You’re unlikely to stay in one spot all day when at your normal workplace, so it’s worth thinking the same way when at home. Psychology Today says that taking breaks not only, “replenishes your mental resources” but doing so regularly increases “engagement”. You could even try out the Pomodoro method, which involves working on any one task for 25 minutes and then taking a quick 3-5 minute break. After four of these 25-minute stints with mini-breaks, you can then take a bigger break for up to 30 minutes, according to KanbanFlow.
3. Get dressed for a working day
Obviously, we’re not trying to sound like your parents, we have better things to do, but simple routine habits can go a long way when working from home. Staying in comfy pajamas might seem tempting in the short term, but you could find, over time, being overly casual may not be helpful for your long-term motivation and productivity. You can actually help set the tone for the rest of your day by deliberately choosing clothes that suit your workplace culture, or guidelines, that personally motivate and focus you. What’s not to like? You’ve also got to think about other things too, such as how you might come across to teammates, colleagues or clients in potential video-conferencing calls and other communication channels.
4. Think about good communication
If you ask us at CCleaner, we think team messaging platforms like Slack are great because of their speed and ease of use. However, as noted by Trello, while written messages are brilliant, tone, body language and what’s happened during someone’s day are all things that can easily become invisible in a chat window. Perhaps one of the best things you can do is always default to giving the benefit of the doubt. Trello describes this in their own way as assuming positive intent and not jumping to the conclusion that the person at the other end of your internet connection has a hidden agenda. Although useful, if you sense things starting to become muddled over an online chat or multiple email chains - it’s wise to move things across to a phone call or, even better, a group video call. We’re all human, so things are usually easier to interpret when we hear the tone of someone’s voice or see their responses over a video chat link. At CCleaner, we also like using Zoom as a go-to video call platform for hosting team meetings or wider company conversations.
5. Have the right tools to hand
You probably noticed that we referred to some handy digital tools like project management platforms, messaging apps or video conferencing software. We enjoy using these, and we hope you’ll get the best out of them too if you’re not already using them or something similar. But one digital tool you may have not considered is the CCleaner app. The fact is that all the tools we’ve already mentioned need a healthy, well-running computer to work effectively. This is exactly where CCleaner can help. Our new ‘Health Check’ feature gives you a simple, jargon-free method to identify hidden browser files and junk that could be slowing down your system. What’s more, you can also disable pesky, unnecessary startup programs and even organize multiple app and program updates. This keeps your system running smoothly while also helping to minimize security risks. Our app can help you at a time when you probably need your computers and wi-fi more than ever.
So there you go!
In addition to some interesting stats and points, we’ve given you 5 things to take away and talk to your work colleagues, friends and family about.
If you’re interested, you can download CCleaner right now. See here.
For more specific information about us, see here.
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