For the first time ever remote
work is taking over the world.
Just over 2 weeks ago in Northern Italy, the number of cases of that infamous Covid-19 virus, also known as coronavirus, increased sharply. Almost immediately, the local government began to introduce measures to prevent it’s spread. At first, they were not tough, but after some 10 days, the situation changed dramatically. The country put on a nationwide lockdown. Our daily life, which we are all so used to, has changed. I’m not even talking about basic things such as meeting friends in a bar, going to the movies, museums, exhibitions, and the usual shopping in the end. All social life has come to a standstill, as if someone pressed the Switch-Off button. It feels very surreal.
To protect ourselves and our families as much as possible, we switched to remote work. In other words, we work from our own houses. It is also called smart work. But smart work, of course, is not only working from home.
”Smart work is known as a new work model that uses new technologies and the development of existing technologies to improve both productivity and the satisfaction received from work.”
Eh, sounds a bit encyclopedic? Well, to keep it simple Smart Work represents the idea that instead of working in an office, people can work from anywhere and at anytime. How do we do this? Of course, we use all the possibilities of technology for the implementation of remote working at full potential. With the right tools, in fact, you can work online as if you were in the same office as your colleagues.
But it’s one thing to use smart working a few days a week as an alternative to going to the office every day, and quite another to switch to this type of work on a daily basis. Also, it would not be so critical if you could always choose between a house, a park or a cafe.
But here we are, almost 24 hours a day in one space (c’mon, let’s face it, not everyone can afford to have a separate home office) having only the option to go for a run or to the supermarket.
Note: As we speak, Italy has been in a full lockdown state for about 2 weeks now; with other European countries following suite.
So…how can you not lose track of time in this mode, not fall out of the loop, and even continue to perform effectively?
Well, here are some tips from our experience:
- Firstly, a very basic, but an important rule: never work in your PJ’s. Yes, you are in your house, but you need to have a work mindset. Working in your pyjamas is a lot like working from bed (and the two often go together): if you’re dressed for bed, your brain will think it’s bedtime and fuzz out.
- Start your day with the right mood by setting goals. For this simple reason, every morning we organize a mini virtual meeting (in total no more than 25 minutes, for a team of 15 people), where everyone highlights their workload for the day. This small ritual called ”Stand-up Meeting” helps us on the organisational level (same time daily) & maintains team spirit. Honestly, it feels like coming to the office virtually. Gives you some sparkling energy!
- Good, constant communication: if you are not physically in the same room with your colleagues, this does not mean that you should feel isolated. There are countless instant messaging software for teams; for us that software is Slack. In addition to exchanging messages privately or in the group with the internal team, there we have workspaces dedicated to the projects where we talk to the clients. To preserve your nervous system, any use of WhatsApp or any other informal messenger should be banned.
- We all need to avoid distractions at work. The key to developing this is understanding your weaknesses. For some of us is web surfing. By realising this, we have started allocating dedicated breaks specifically for this habit.
- In a while get away from your pc or laptop. Yes, at the office, it might be easier when taking a break with your colleagues to have a small chat and grab a coffee. Try to do the same when working from home. As in quarantine, you can take your break to go for a run or do groceries, lol. Otherwise, shortly it can get stuffy inside the room.
- Files. Easy access and share data are not just BUZZ words here. Once there were archives, these days they are accessible from any platform or operating system, browser or app. Pick up whichever cloud storage is best for you and your team & start to collaborate. For us, Google drive does it’s job well.
- Keep learning: stay in good ”professional” shape. Do not lose touch with new developments or technology changes. These days, there are so many channels and communities for anyone who wants to learn. For example, some of us just subscribed to a couple of online courses again. Corona free time + new learnings = 100% goal
Of course, when you are trying to balance your personal and professional life in one place, it’s never easy. There may always be a few unexpected “surprises” that cut into your productivity. However, most of the issues home-based workers encounter can be avoided by setting some work-at-home ethics for yourself, your family and also your beloved team.
Coming back to this unique situation we are facing right now, we need to be ready to change the rules.
It might be that this crisis, after all, can give us an opportunity to practice smart working more efficiently. Could be possible that in the near future, more conservative companies will follow us, starting to give more value to smart or agile work.
Then…working from home could reshape society?
Anything is possible and nothing is impossible. Let’s see.