Covid 19: Top tips for working from home as business braces for coronavirus disruption

More and more companies are advising staff to work from home in the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak - at least you can hang out with your furry friends

With the covid 19 coronavirus outbreak taking hold, many companies are advising staff to work at home where possible. We spoke to an expert to get some tips for effective remote working.

Lucy Elkin is founder of myworkhive, a Suffolk-based social enterprise that uses remote and flexible working and returnships to solve both business problems and social problems.

Having worked remotely herself for 10 years, Lucy says: “I’m a passionate believer in remote working being a force for good when it’s done well, saving time, stress and money and reducing carbon emissions from commuting.

“myworkhive’s website has lots of resources including remote-working guides for individuals and teams, and I’m always happy to talk informally with organisations thinking about moving to remote or struggling to make remote working a good experience.  We are also developing a job board for remote vacancies, which is currently free to test out.”

Here are some of Lucy’s top tips for effective remote working.

Lucy Elkin of myworkhive

Tips for homeworking

Plan effectively: Thorough planning is key to effective remote working. Thinking about what your team needs and steps you need to take, and consider implementing a work-from-home policy, detailing issues around things such as insurance, health and safety, or who pays for phone calls. Workplace advisory agency ACAS provides a detailed example of a work-from-home policy on its’ website here.

“Having a plan in place now can improve an organisation’s resilience because it will be ready next time there is a disruption such as heavy snow,” Lucy says.

Consider security: Working from home can cause security concerns, particularly if people are using their own personal devices, rather than company laptops and phones.

Data security and protection are key issues to plan for, too. Lucy says that if team members are taking paperwork with them that contains personal data such as contact details, it should be stored somewhere safe , not left lying around at home, in order to meet General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules in the European Union and UK.

“If team members are accessing clients’ or customers’ personal data on their computers, you’ll need to think through how to keep that secure,” she says. “As a minimum, you’ll need to remind team members to password protect their devices, and not to leave them lying around at home.”

Manage your line managers: Companies need to support their line managers so that in turn they can provide effective support to their teams. Lucy says: “You can’t just expect your managers to continue to run their teams in the same way they would normally – they will need help to adapt. When you start working remotely you don’t have all the little ‘touch points’ of contact throughout the day. Line managers need to be aware of this and replace it with things like regular calls via video messaging services such as Skype or Zoom.”

She adds it’s important managers can focus on “outputs rather than time”, making sure their staff deliver on their objectives, rather than the hours they work.

Virtual co-working: Working from home can be a lonely business, so encouraging everyone to post regular short updates and comments on tools like Slack or Teams can also help people feel connected through the day. And video calls don’t have to be just for work. Video coffee breaks or lunches together can help provide some more relaxed, social time.

Get better informed: LinkedIn has made its library of working from home courses free to access in light of the Covid 19 outbreak. There are sixteen courses available covering leading virtual teams, time management, and building resistance. Take a look here.

Online co-working and support groups