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The shift from office-based business operations to managing businesses with a remote workforce came as abrupt as it was intense. Businesses worldwide have had to pivot and dramatically change the ways they are running their business and serving their clients. Eighteen months into the new normal, we can safely say that work-life as we knew it has changed forever. But what about the efficiency of working from home?

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 found that 78% of business leaders were anticipating some negative fall-out on productivity from remote working during the pandemic. However, the contrary appears to be the case. The pandemic demonstrated to many businesses the resilience of their office workers and the success of pivoting to a work from home model, the report says. In one survey of remote workers in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, 47% of respondents said their productivity had remained the same and 35% said it had increased.

This article will explore the key aspects of working from home that you, as a business owner, need to keep an eye on to let your team shine.

1. Ensure the Basics of a Good Workspace Are Covered

Discuss with your employees the options of having a good workspace. Remember, working from home has become the new normal, so it is important that the home-based workspace is a permanent fit-out. Moving from the couch to the dining room and back to the couch may work for the first few weeks. However,  it will take its toll on your employees’ spine health. Creative solutions to maximise space may require some out of the box thinking, but a desk and an ergonomic chair can be fitted into the smallest homes.

2. Keep an Eye on the Work Hours

Seeing emails sent at odd hours? It is probably a sign that the sender is struggling to find the right rhythm when working from home. Setting real business hours is important for your employees to maintain a sense of normality. The beauty of working from home is that it allows for flexibility. However, without a daily routine, productivity and mental health can quickly slide.

Scheduling fixed lunch break times where no emails can be sent or meetings can be scheduled, also helps maintain a healthy work rhythm.

3. Keep the Team Connected Through Video Chat

Working from home can often be lonely, especially for those employees who live alone. Therefore, you should make it a habit to check in and have a chat with your team members each day. A daily meeting at the start of the day is a good way to connect, virtually see each other and get a feel for how everyone is going. It also offers a good opportunity to share what everyone’s priorities, tasks and potential roadblocks are for the day ahead. And do not forget to relax and have a little fun!

4. Encourage Your Employees to Develop a Morning Routine

One perk of working from home is ditching the morning rush out of the house and commute to the office. However, working from home does not mean skipping the morning routine altogether. Since your team is likely to be cooped up indoors, the start to a productive day is important. You should encourage your team to: 

  • get up early;
  • go for a walk around the block; 
  • take a shower; and 
  • get dressed as if they are going to the office. 

There is a reason why pyjamas do not spring to mind when we say “dress for success”.

5. Promote Exercise and Regular Stretching

Exercise creates a natural boost of endorphins, which increases enjoyment, happiness and interest levels, all of which are key for productivity, but it is tempting just to stay bunkered down at the desk. Where possible, ‘walk and talk’ during meetings and promote regular breaks to stretch and exercise.

Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. 

Key Takeaways

Although COVID-19 did not invent working from home, it certainly drove a revolution in what flexibility in work arrangements looks like. But the success of the enforced working from home model does not signal the death of the office. There are many positives in having the team working together from a central location. The office is a place to foster a feeling of connectedness and collaboration. Further, it is an environment that allows for creativity and innovation, and for the development of a culture that defines your business.

Moving forwards, it is likely that we will see a longer-term shift towards a hybrid working model that would allow employees to work flexibly on certain days of the week and come together with teammates in a central workplace on others. This no doubt will require some level of adjustment again.

 

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