With the recent government advice that we should all work from home if we can, with many forced to self-isolate for 14 days or more, and with the announcement that schools will close for the majority of students in the UK, companies across the nation have implemented policies to allow for their employees to work remotely. Some have closed their offices completely, some are keeping a skeleton staff to keep things ticking over, others are working in-home/office shifts. What it has meant for many is change, both in terms of mindset and in a practical sense. In order for businesses to survive the economic effects of the virus, we must all try to embrace this change and find ways of working remotely that suit both our employees and our clients.
Here at Wave, we have made the decision to take the whole company remote, helped hugely by video conferencing tools, file sharing on the cloud, a workplace messaging app and an incredibly resilient team that stays in constant communication with each other. And we are by no means the only ones. How have we done it? We share some tips for setting up remotely and staying productive whilst working from home so that we can all keep going and ensure the recruitment industry stays buoyant.
Video Conferencing tools
Whether the whole company’s working from home or just a few employees, video conferencing tools are essential to ensure that everyone can continue to meet ‘face to face’. Your normal internal meetings can carry on as normal, just in a slightly different capacity. Plus, from a psychological point of view, seeing people and being able to chat makes home working slightly less lonely. Choose an app, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype, and ensure everyone has it set up on their device. Most video conferencing tools are free for the basic package.
Workplace messaging apps
A messaging app such as Slack, a combination of email and instant messaging, is great for both quick communication – think the question you’d normally just pop over to a colleague’s desk to ask – as well as a way to stay in touch with different teams on a social and professional level. You can set up a number of different channels for different work groups and direct message anyone in the team too.
With employees working from a multitude of different locations on a number of different devices, file sharing suddenly becomes a security nightmare for organisations. This is where a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is essential as it provides secure connections for remote workers. Cloud VPNs provide security to networks on the public cloud. Once set up, employees will be able to securely access all critical operations. Top tip: with so many people working remotely, you may encounter VPN capacity issues so it’s wise to communicate with your staff the importance of disconnecting as soon as they don’t need it in order to release it to those that do.
Practical tips to help your employees adjust to home working
Set up a workspace
If you don’t have a home office then set up an ad hoc space in which you can work productively and ensure your chair is comfortable. If you can, double monitors and a wireless keyboard and mouse also help. If other family members are home too, create boundaries, e.g. shutting the door to signal you’re working and don’t want to be disturbed.
Check your wifi
Ensure your router is updated to run the latest firmware – this should help improve its software and check for security issues. Newer routers offer multi-band networks so that you can split networks into 2.4GHz and 5 GHz. The latter, faster band is the best for teleconferencing or accessing large shared files. Now may also be a good time to re-negotiate your service package to ensure you have enough bandwidth to upload and download everything you need to work effectively.
Manage network security
Update anti-virus software on all home devices. Think about headphones – Working remotely means a lot of meetings via video conference. To make this easier, a good headset or headphones will help drown out background noise and sharpen the sound coming from your screens. This will be especially helpful for external meetings and candidate interviews.
Tips to help with the emotional adjustment of home working
Working from home can be a lonely experience, even more so if you live by yourself. Companies could help by introducing daily team check-ups via video conferencing. On a personal level, workers should set up a routine to ensure they don’t end up working all day without a break. Take a shower, get dressed, treat working from home in exactly the same way as if you were going to the office. Go into the garden or onto your balcony in your lunch break or take a short walk and enforce a set end to your working day.
How recruiters can continue to recruit from home
As a recruitment company, you may be wondering how you can continue to recruit from home, given recruitment is such a people-focused industry. Recruiters are used to face-to-face meetings and interviews with clients and candidates alike. Working from home and social distancing measures make that very difficult but there are other ways to continue to have that all-important human contact – in a virtual setting. Many are taking their interviews online using some of the video conferencing apps we mentioned earlier. This poses its own challenges, largely that it is undeniably harder to connect with candidates via an online interview. However, there are advantages too – those jobseekers working from home and not travelling are easier to get hold of and the whole process can potentially be sped up.
Coronavirus has prompted many of us to work in a new way and for some, it will take time to adapt to digital working, a routine away from colleagues and direct contact with managers. With the right practical tools in place, it’s largely a case of keeping up team morale and battling the sense of isolation. One last tip from us: consider holding a virtual social, such as a team lunch or end of the day drinks over Zoom. And remember, we’re all in this together and will get through this together.