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Tips and Tricks when working remotely in the Time of COVID-19

Following the decree last week from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the COVID-19 outbreak has officially reached pandemic status, companies and organisations from around the globe have made remote work mandatory. Even the entire EPF team will be working from home for the next few weeks until the government and we deem it safe to return to close quarters. Several of our members and patient organisations may be used to working from home as well, however we wanted to provide some tips and tools to assist in ensuring that your organisation’s operations can run seamlessly. Even if you are already used to remote working, perhaps this could provide you with some new ideas or tools to use.

Get Up and Get into the Right Mindset

You may idealise the situation where you get to work in your pyjamas all day, but it will not serve you well. Setting up a good routine in your home means getting up and preparing yourself for the day ahead – that means a shower, good breakfast and dressing for the day. Comfort is key but you need to create the mindset that you’re ready to take on the world and your pyjamas will not help make you feel productive.

Finally, make sure to start and end each workday at around your usual time. While there is a natural and admirable tendency to start earlier or work later because your commute time is now zero, try to stick to your regular work schedule to make it feel like work.

Create Your Workspace

This is the one part of working from home that may trump working in a beautiful, modern office. While you may miss some of the frills of the office, you have a chance to situate yourself in the ideal position in your home, while being close to your kitchen, bathroom and wardrobe. Position your workspace in such a way that you can concentrate and have the resources you need.

One of those critical resources is a good internet connection, so find out where to get the best Wi-Fi reception at your place. If you are like the EPF staff, video calls are a daily routine so think about how your workspace will look and sound on an audio or video call. If you're going to be working remotely for an extended period, try to make this workspace semi-permanent, so you can return to it each day and pick up where you left off. Making it your space will make you more productive.

Communication is Key to Maintain Productivity

Productivity tools are important for every organisation but they are, quite literally, the only connection distributed teams have to rely on – so you better make sure you choose the right ones. Based on our own working patterns and experiences, EPF would like to recommend a few online tools to use to ensure your teams are well-connected and productive during this tumultuous period.

Team Meetings:

Skype

Skype is a traditional and probably the most used professional chatting and instant messaging application. It is widely used by small and large businesses all over the world for effective communication with their employees – in-office and remote – via video chat, instant messaging, voice calling and more.

Slack

Slack is an instant messaging remote office communication tool for teams and remote workers. It also has a team management feature for managing projects, assigning teams, even hiring new employees, writing and deploying codes, planning launches, and openings, reviewing employee contracts and sales contracts and more.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp has quickly become the world’s most popular text and voice messaging application. Specializing in cross-platform messaging, WhatsApp is a free service that lets users message one another seamlessly between mobile and desktop devices. WhatsApp is known for its enhanced privacy features, like end-to-end encryption, and its free, web-based international calling. It’s typically the quickest and easiest way to stay connected.

Zoom

Zoom is another of the popular remote collaboration tools. Its main use is for video conferencing and meetings. It can work as a perfect alternative to Google Hangouts when you need a larger number of people to attend a meeting at once.

GoToMeeting

One of EPF’s preferred tools, it’s an online meeting and web conferencing tool that enables businesses to collaborate with customers, clients or colleagues via the Internet in real time. It’s especially great for hosting webinars and there’s a 14 day free trial for newbies.

Project Management

Workplace By Facebook

The workplace is a work team collaboration platform launched by Facebook. It gives your organisation the facility to connect all the employees over the same secure network with familiar tools. The group’s feature allows you to make teams and share specific things with specific people.

IDONETHIS

IDoneThis is not a comprehensive remote working tool but is useful for the specific task of tracking achievements. The tool collects daily achievements and progress reports from all the team members and sends out morning newsletters with the performance reports to everyone’s inbox.

Asana

Asana is one of the most comprehensive productivity tools for remote workers. The tool lets you easily create, assign and manage tasks, organize tasks according to projects, communicate with a particular worker within a task to keep the conversations organized, and upload or export files from/to Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud and local places.

Basecamp

One of the best project management tools for distributed teams, Basecamp is used for work arrangements, scheduling, meetings, assignment tracking, documentation and complete tracking and management of projects from a single platform.

Document Storage

Dropbox

It is one of the cloud-based file storage and sharing platforms where you can store official files, docs, images, and videos and share them with others. It is perfect for collaborating with remote teams and workers and to ensure data security against system crashes.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a cloud storage platform to keep all your files in one secure and centralized location. The remote workers can store and share documents, spreadsheets, and slide presentations. It can be used for reporting on weekly metrics. Additionally, Google Drive files can be synced across devices, so the individuals can view and update them from anywhere.

Although COVID-19 means many of us are working from home for an unfortunate reason, the bright side is that we'll become more familiar with a style of work that is becoming more and more the norm. Some of these tips and tools can make your remote experience more rewarding and productive and prepare you for that future of work.

For those that already work in isolation or remotely, we hope that these tips and tools may have shed some light on the process and gave you some new ideas on how to effectively engage your team. For those in lockdown, we hope that these ensure your deadlines and objectives are met during this tumultuous period. While this situation is not ideal for all, life is all about adapting to the cards you are dealt so make the best of it and ensure that your objectives are met while enjoying your surroundings.

We also encourage our members to connect with each other and share information, learnings and support. Many of our members are also actively providing information for their communities. If you have found a creative solution or have information you would like to share with the community, feel free to send it to us for publication in our Weekly Insiders!