As the world confronts the COVID-19 crisis, the old ways of working have been suddenly upended and companies, governments, schools – everyone is racing to adapt.
Governments have promoted social distancing practices to stop the spread. In practice, this means mandatory remote collaboration for all employees. Employers want to protect the health of their workers, but how can they also ensure productivity of remote workers during this challenging period?
In truth, the crisis comes as many businesses have moved away from old-fashioned “factory” models of centralized workplaces. The world has become a digital web and omnipresent connectedness makes this pandemic unique in human history – never before have so many people sheltered in place and yet remained so deeply connected.
Shifting to a Remote-Work Lifestyle
Before COVID-19, many companies had already adopted new ways of working, encouraging the occasional work from home day, hiring offsite team members and collaborating with remote teams (such as Pentalog’s). Nevertheless, shifting to universal WFH represents an unprecedent disruption in terms of business productivity and human anxiety.
To succeed, we need to plan for success over an unknown period of self-isolation.
At Pentalog, we had a head-start in the work from home transition, based on our deep experience with virtual and remote collaboration with many leading global companies. In a matter of days, we shifted more than 1,100 team members to work from home mode, while maintaining team commitments and productivity for our clients.
After two weeks of telecommuting, we’re proud to say that productivity indicators remain stable, even higher in some cases. That is why we are pleased to share our learnings and work from home productivity tips so that employees, teams and managers can focus on doing their best work – ever.
How is This Possible?
We rely on Pentalog’s strong agile culture, time-tested collaboration framework, and robust workflow management tools to maintain continuity of operations for our clients and to provide any additional capacity they may need due to the disruptions.
Managers tested the remote collaboration before telecommuting became mandatory: our infrastructure team made the preparations, development teams drilled for such a scenario and all employees have been trained in digital security practices.
Pentalog’s Work from Home Productivity Tips
#First Things First: Prepare Your Infrastructure
To ensure telecommuting productivity, first you have to work on hardware, software and remote network infrastructure, such as: links, VPN gateways, other security appliances – quickly identify and resolve any performance bottlenecks and potential failure points.
Configurate the necessary tools, such as: communication, file sharing, collaboration tools and project management apps.
Confirm that each team member is able to arrange good conditions for remote work (e.g. internet, desk, space).
Inform clients and partners about the transition and address any project-specific concerns or bottlenecks.
#Get Comfortable and Plan Your Work
Consistency is key when working from home. Setting up a designated work area not only helps improve focus on work but also allows you to have some personal space free from distractions.
Try to maintain a regular work schedule and announce changes in your program.
Prepare for a day’s work like normal: wake up at the same hour, eat a nourishing meal, plan breaks during the day for lunch or physical activities, make a “to do” list and stick to that, just as if you were at the office.
As far as possible, set up a dedicated workspace with various amenities such as a comfortable chair, a table, a computer, and more.
Have video meetings with colleagues and clients and prepare for them in advance (invitation, connection session, agenda etc.).
As far as possible, make family and friends aware that you’re not available during working hours, especially when you’re most productive or have meetings.
Mind the Attitude
Communicate clearly and effectively using the available channels.
Stay connected and ensure that your team(s) and client(s) know your schedule.
Be proactive and self-directed – more critical now than ever before.
Support your team(s) – not just on a work level but a human one.
Be positive, face challenges one at a time, don’t try to do everything at once.
Thanks to the Internet, we face this crisis apart but together. Use your devices, apps and platforms to stay in contact. Now more than ever, make use of the many advanced collaboration tools at your disposal to their full potential to ensure productivity.
Encourage screen sharing, communication via voice and camera.
Keep your team(s) informed about the status of your tasks and any next steps.
Ask for advice or clarifications when things are not clear – be proactive.
Show progress more often, more visibly and more deliberately.
Ensure project management tools are kept up to date with your progress.
Take full ownership for the quality you deliver.
Stay connected with colleagues for fun activities, too!
At Pentalog, we use virtual time together to connect with our colleagues as people. Compassion and connectedness are essential to help mitigate the normal mental health challenges of self-isolation.
Show progress before they ask for it – doing so will relieve their anxiety.
Show results more often than usual, make progress consistency visible.
Keep in regular contact – even more often than usual.
Make yourself available to answer questions as they arise.
#Never Stop Learning
A great way to keep your mind fresh during the quarantine period is to learn something new. For example, in Pentalog, we’ve launched several activities and put together a comprehensive guide with all kinds of recommendations:
Lunch & Learn sessions
Remote workshops on a variety of topics
Internal knowledge sharing sessions
Discover your hobbies and disconnect from the daily routine. Do yourself a favor and try to relax a bit. Make the time for virtual coffees, virtual lunches or virtual cocktail hours. Try an online gaming event or even bring out the board games at home.
More work from home productivity tips from the Pentaguys:
“We adapted to the changes, created offices at home and keep the communication channels open. We perform our work in the same manner and some of us are even more productive! We are still keeping things fun with everything that is going on. We are there for each other.” Andreea, Project Director & Practices Manager
“My job requires to have an overview of all the projects in the agency, so I stay connected with my colleagues through online video sessions. At the end of the day, one has to find ways to disconnect through online discussions with colleagues and friends. Games and physical exercise may also help.” Cosmin, Practices Manager
“During this period, visibility and transparency are key, with everything we’re doing, not just the impediments. Showing how things are moving in the right direction helps keeping everyone up to date, positive and optimistic. If we have trust, transparency, visibility, balance and hope, excellence is merely a walk in the park.” Vlad, Practices Manager
“I keep exactly the same morning routine as usual, work from an isolated room, wear a comfortable headset, make directly video calls even if they are not planned, and have a daily stand-up with my teams to maintain human interaction.” Jean Paul, Customer Success Manager
“Know your limits! Being available 100% of the time comes with a cost – people also need their productive hours, without meetings. So, in my opinion, we should of course have our daily interactions but also respect the intense focused working time.” Dan, Account Manager
Are these work from home productivity tips useful? Please share any feedback or suggestions in the comments.