Employers and employees across the globe are working to set up efficient, effective home offices in order to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Whether you're aiming to comply with government mandates, simply doing your part or offering ongoing remote work unrelated to the pandemic, these five tips and tricks can help those who work from home do so more efficiently.
1. Ensure Privacy
A universal challenge for those who work from home is the presence of distractions that aren't an issue in the office: pets, children, laundry, deliveries, visitors and phone calls, among others. The most private home offices are conducive to better work; they should be located in a room separate from common areas and have a solid door that can be closed when workload requires it. While employees who have a relatively quiet home may elect to keep it open, being able to close it for pitches or video conferencing is critical.
2. Mimic the On-Site Workstation
If on-site employees use ergonomic chairs, sit-to-stand workstations, and dual monitors, then ensure remote employees have the same set-up. Likewise, if it's difficult to work off of a laptop without a standard keyboard and mouse, then ensure a standard keyboard and mouse are available for remote employees. Employees who have to adjust to the luxuries of the office and then a makeshift home work station are more likely to lose time trying to get comfortable and find ways to make the equipment work.
3. Ensure You Have Reliable Phone and Internet Service
Glitchy phone and internet service can make working from home impossible; employees should contact their service providers to ensure their internet speed will suffice for business purposes and test it prior to their first day working from home if possible. Additionally, VPN connection is ideal and ensures employees aren't limited by lack of file or platform access while at home.
4. Follow a Set Schedule
One of the benefits of working from home is the opportunity to throw dinner in the oven mid-afternoon or be present when a delivery arrives, but staying productive while still reaping the benefits can be challenging. Remote workers can enjoy the perks of working from home without sacrificing their productivity at work by maintaining a standard work schedule and "getting ready" the way they would if they were working in an office. They should start at the same time daily and schedule breaks per office policy. The Pomodoro method can be especially helpful when trying to maintain a productive schedule at home.
5. Don't Forget About Security
In industries that work with secure information - such as protected health information or proprietary information - it's important that home offices, including computers and file cabinets, meet industry security requirements. These might include locking office doors, locking file cabinets, password-protected computers, and antivirus software.
Many organizations rely on their professional employer organization (PEO) to help them develop a policy that guides the set up and maintenance of home offices. PEOs can also help employers tackle the difficult issues of reimbursement that accompany remote work, such as who will cover the employee's home expenses that are used in part for work.