The global health crisis caused by the new coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has forced companies to apply containment protocols and action plans to protect their workers. Although the measures to be implemented vary greatly according to the type of business or industry, the truth is that the health authorities have urged companies to facilitate teleworking, in all those activities in which this is possible. This has caused many workers to manage their office work from home, sometimes without much prior preparation.
And it is that working from home is not as easy as it seems, especially when you are not used to this situation. According to Eurostat, only 3.2% of Spanish workers sometimes work from home (compared to 19.6% in the Netherlands or 14.1% in France, for example). This means that a significant percentage of the population will debut in telework during these days. For them, we have some tips.
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Tips for doing office work from home
- Keep schedules. You have to be disciplined in this regard. First of all, because you may need to be available to other colleagues. On the other hand, you will avoid deferring tasks and finding yourself at the end of the day with a difficult to digest work ball.
- Establish a fixed workplace. Adopt a workplace that allows you to be well seated, maintaining postural hygiene similar to when you are in the office. Although the sofa or bed may seem appetizing, a chair and a table are a better option. Not only will they make you truly productive and avoid bad postures, but they will also allow you to differentiate environments and disconnect better when your day ends.
- Be clear about the communication channels. It is better to use professional communication channels, such as the tools that we will detail later, instead of personal phone numbers. In this way, we do not run the risk of disturbing or being disturbed in time of rest. It is also worth choosing a single communication channel because being aware of everything is like being aware of nothing (although it doesn’t hurt to establish a second one just for emergencies).
- Don’t do chores you wouldn’t do in the office. You may think that, since you are at home, you can take advantage to throw a washing machine or cook a quick menu at mealtime. This will only make you eat in a hurry or that your day ends up lengthening more than usual.
- Follow the same routines. Prepare your day in the same way as if you went to the office. Following the same routines (for example, having breakfast and then taking a shower) will awaken a mental association that will put you in a better disposition to work, allowing you to be more concentrated than if you start working directly in your pajamas.
- Maintain contact with colleagues. Working outside the office, communication is a point to reinforce. Since non-verbal communication can lead to misunderstandings (nuances such as tone are lost) do not leave all communication in the hands of email. Establishing calls or video calls frequently will help avoid conflicts.
- Disconnect. Schedule breaks similar to those in the office and respect them. When the day is over, disconnect the communication channels.
- Update your equipment. If you are going to use your own equipment, take a few minutes before updating it to bridge possible security breaches.
Tools for teleworking
It goes without saying that the internet is the main tool for working from home. These days, telecommunications operators have noticed an explosion of traffic through IP networks of up to 40%. The traffic of remote work tools, like Skype and Webex, has multiplied by four.
In this scenario, which threatens the saturation of lines, internet providers recommend a rational consumption of resources, which involves prioritizing the use of landlines over mobile phones, avoiding mass emails, avoiding sending heavy files (passing from ppt to pdf, for example), download only the strictly necessary documents and use some collaborative work tools, such as those detailed below.
Tools for communication
- Microsoft Teams. This platform is business-oriented and allows actions such as calls, remote control through calls, video calls, file sharing and chats from multiple users, as well as providing notes, access to Office documents, and a task scheduler.
- Slack. Available in desktop version or mobile app, this application facilitates communication by message, video, or audio, allowing you to create different channels or groups to talk to the team or the right people, without disturbing others.
- Skype It is one of the most popular applications, not only on a business level but also on a personal level. It allows chats, sending files and video calls, as well as creating groups. Like the rest of the tools, it also allows ‘screen sharing’, a function that serves to teach a colleague what appears on our team. Its great advantage is that it is free (for calls between devices with an internet connection)
- Google Hangouts. This messaging platform allows functionality similar to Skype but has the advantage that people can connect without having a specific account (with a Google account is enough). However, it does not allow to send voice and audio files.
- Webex. In addition to allowing calls and video calls, like the previous tools, this tool also allows you to measure user activity, resource usage, bandwidth or availability. As an extra, it can be integrated with many other platforms, such as Google Calendar.
- VPN networks. VPN (Virtual Private Network) networks create a local network without the need for users to be interconnected so that files or printers can be shared without going through the internet and avoiding geo-blocking of content. These networks provide many advantages at the level of cybersecurity when you are teleworking.
- Password managers. Tools like Lastpass or Keypass allow you to store and share passwords safely. In this way, we can give a colleague access to a certain platform while maintaining control over the password (only we know it and, therefore, only we can modify it).
Task management tools
There are countless tools that make office work easier from home, allowing you to manage projects and assign tasks to other team members. Although they are not exclusive to working from home, they do help to organize better when employees cannot see their faces. They also allow you to set compliance dates, to avoid having to send reminder messages every two by three.
Another type of tools
To work as a team, Google Docs can also offer very interesting functionalities. It allows sharing documents (text, calculation, or presentations) with different types of permissions, such as editing, leaving comments, etc., so that working ‘hand in hand’ is easier than ever.
Other tools that can be useful are those that divert and redirect calls. By installing them on a mobile phone, we can pass the call to other colleagues. It is not as easy as bringing the phone to him, but it is a start.
Finally, it should be noted that, although the office work is done at home, it is necessary for companies to continue complying with the Time Control Law. For this reason, it is necessary for the employer to implement online transfer measures, if this has not already been done.