According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies two-thirds of Australians are working from home, compared to 42% pre-Covid 19. Outbreaks, lockdowns and remote working are now part and parcel of the Australian working landscape and workers and employers alike are still settling into this new normal.
Here are some tips on maintaining productivity during lockdown and managing remote teams to help make the transition to remote work smoother.
6 Working from home tips to increase productivity
It’s perfectly normal to feel unmotivated or less productive during a lockdown, but there are simple ways to make working from home easier and more productive.
1. Stick to a routine
Having a routine is beneficial at any time in our lives, but particularly when we’re lacking structure. During Covid-19 induced lockdowns we can quickly lose focus and let some of our usual habits — like regular exercise, bedtimes and mealtimes — fall away. According to Headspace, having a set routine can have huge mental health benefits, reducing stress, managing anxiety and reducing our mental load.
2. Take regular breaks
When you’re surrounded by co-workers it’s easy to remember to take a break. Your colleague might make you a cup of tea or ask you to join them for a walk around the block. When it’s just you day in day out working from home it can be easy to become buried in work and forget to come up for breaks. As part of your routine, you should factor in regular break times.
3. Get fresh air and sunshine
Without the need to leave the house for your morning commute it can be easy to spend your entire day indoors. Try eating your lunch outside or going for a short walk as a break at some point in your workday to get some sunshine. Not only is sunshine and fresh air great for our mood, sunlight also provides Vitamin D which is essential for energy and health.
4. Get dressed for work
You don’t have to put on a shirt and tie but wearing something presentable will make you feel ready for work. We’ve all been tempted to wear track pants or pyjamas while working from home and this is alright sometimes but it’s surprising how much difference a little bit of effort can make to your mood and productivity.
5. Ask for help
When you’re in your usual working environment your colleagues are all around you during the workday and it’s easy to pop over to someone’s desk and ask them for clarification or advice. Calling a colleague feels like a lot more work than speaking to them in person and it can be easy to try to push through the task on your own, but a quick phone call can make all the difference
6. Create a separate work area if possible
If you can set up a separate office in your home that is ideal. If you don’t have the space then creating a designated work area works as well. Having a workstation that can remain set up will help you feel more settled as opposed to having to clear your work things off the dining room table every night for example.
Managing remote teams during lockdown
Managing remote teams during lockdown and beyond presents a unique set of challenges for managers. There are some simple steps you can take to maintain employee morale and ensure your team stays supported and productive.
1. Set clear expectations
Make sure your team knows what is expected of them. Provide clear briefs, timeframes and deadlines on all tasks and set baseline expectations and KPIs.
2. Check-in regularly
Call each team member at least once a month to check in with them. Discuss what’s working and what’s not and ask if they require any assistance from you or if there are any ways you can make their job easier. Productivity can suffer when there is a disconnect between workers and management.
3. Provide mental wellbeing resources
Provide a relevant Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to your staff to ensure their wellbeing is accounted for.
4. Provide home office resources
Your employees will work better if they have the appropriate equipment. Provide any necessary office supplies and equipment to ensure they have the necessary tools to perform their jobs. According to Safework Australia, you and your employees hold joint responsibility for managing workplace risks while working from home. Take care to ensure your OHS responsibilities are met.
One of the main things missing from remote working is the chance to socialise with co-workers. Arrange non-work related activities and events to help maintain social connections and boost morale. This could be as simple as a weekly lunch catch up over Zoom or virtual Friday drinks.
Remote work management tools
There are countless management tools on the market to help make remote work easier, here are a few examples of communication, time management, sharing platforms and more.
Mango — HSEQ management software with remote and app access capabilities
Zoom — Video conferencing software
Slack — Business communication and messaging platform
Same page — collaboration software
Task and time management platforms
Trello — task management and tracking platform
Productive — workflow management platform
Asana — task management platform
Google Drive — file creation, sharing and collaboration
Dropbox — task management, file tracking and file storage
Team viewer — remote device and platform access
Keeper — cyber security and password management
LastPass — password sharing, password creation and digital storage
1password — password manager