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Remote Work Strategies In the time of COVID-19 and beyond

The World Health Organization declared the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Many governments and companies are taking steps to protect public health including restricting large gatherings, limiting travel and encouraging remote work.

For decades, remote work, telework and work-from-home strategies have been on the rise. Companies and employees leverage technology to work from anywhere. Work is what you do, not where you go.

However, remote work is not a good fit for all companies and individuals. Whether it does not match the corporate cultural and management style or keep pace with the collaborative nature of the work, or information security does not allow it - remote work hasn't been a fit for everyone. But the current health crisis is changing that.

Many companies, employees, and managers are having to switch to remote work - and they may not be prepared for that disruption. Below are some recommendations to make remote work more effective and how to STAY PRODUCTIVE, STAY CONNECTED and STAY HEALTHY.

STAY PRODUCTIVE

Make sure you have what you need to keep working.

Make a check list of what you need for your (temporary) home office:

  • Laptop
  • Charger
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • Important paper files
  • Passwords, credentials, etc.
  • Help Desk phone number
  • Phone
  • Headset

Find a productive space at home.

  • Ideally separate from distractions: TV, chores, kids, etc.
  • Good natural light
  • Ergonomic chair and ample work surface
  • Quiet
  • Private - if you will be working on or discussing confidential information

It can be good to move around the house as your work changes during the day. Taking a walk outside can be a good way to stay focused, get fresh air and stay healthy.

Avoid the couch (and the fridge).

The biggest potential distraction and pitfall about working from home, can be the couch and the fridge. It is easy to do what you normally do when you are relaxing at home at the end of the day at the office.

However, your work colleagues are counting on you to respond to their request and keep the work moving. The best way to do that is to avoid distractions, particularly TV and video games. Don't worry - your comfy couch and shows will still be there when you close your laptop at the end of the day.

One benefit of working from home is not needing to pack a lunch or buy one. But the fridge and kitchen can also be a place of temptation and distraction. Take breaks, but at the same rate as you would in the office. If you don't normally work with a pint of ice cream next to you, now is not a good time to start.

STAY CONNECTED

Connect frequently with colleagues and use video.

One of the main concerns about remote work is that is hard to collaborate and connect with colleagues. It does take more effort than just popping over to someone's desk - but you can still collaborate, connect, and share information while working remotely.

Nowadays, we have lots of tools to help, but you must be proactive to connect and collaborate. Reach out to your teammates multiple times a day (as many as you would in person) via instant messaging, email, phone and video. Replace your team meetings with video meetings - it will help keep you up to date on what's going on. It can be awkward the first few times, but you are able to absorb more non-verbal communication when you use your camera.

How the Newmark Workplace Strategy & Human Experience team connects.

Utilize virtual collaboration tools - and try new ones.

There are lots of tools out there to help you stay connected. This is a good opportunity to try them out and discover functions you didn't know about (using gifs on Teams is a favorite!). Also, if you are struggling with a particular tool, your help desk might be able to provide some support - or try out an alternate tool and recommend it to management. Virtual collaboration tools include Zoom Video Conferencing, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Outlook, SharePoint and Slack, among others.

Don't forget to connect with friends and family.

When you are working from home, it can be hard to keep regular hours - and the typical workday can stretch into the evening hours. Remember to take breaks and connect with other friends and family who are probably experiencing disruptions to their routines too. If you have kids home from school, it can be hard to balance working and childcare. Communicate with your teammates about the situation and try to be accommodating.

STAY HEALTHY

Wash your hands - and follow other official guidance.

Practicing common sense hygiene can help keep you safe.

Rest, stay hydrated, eat well, move.

Take the time you would normally spend commuting to take care of yourself. Whether it is getting more sleep, or preparing a fresh meal at home, or going for an early morning walk - practicing healthy behaviors will help keep your immune system strong.

Take breaks, stay calm, and talk about how you feel.

Social distancing and remote work can be isolating and lonely. Remember to take care of your mental health too. Stress increases cortisol levels in the body and can weaken your immune system. If the news or work is overwhelming and stressful - take a break. If it's a nice day, work outside for a bit. Call your friends, check on family and talk about how you feel - it will help.

When the work hours are over, take this opportunity to connect with yourself - pick up that book you've been meaning to read (or write), make something for someone you love, or clean out that closet. Doing things that give you a feeling of accomplishment will help the time pass and will keep you focused on the positive.

Remote work can be challenging under normal circumstances. During this time of crisis, a major change in how you work can add to the stress. But remember you can find some positives about working remotely - like saving time and money on commuting, more flexibility and work/life balance and wearing slippers while you work.
The crisis will not last forever, this too shall pass. Things might not go back to the way they were for a while - so learning how to STAY PRODUCTIVE, STAY CONNECTED and STAY HEALTHY while working outside of the office are useful habits and skills that you might use for years to come.

For more information about remote work please reach out to the Newmark Workplace Strategy & Human Experience Team.

or email GCS@ngkf.com

Credits:

Created with images by Glenn Carstens-Peters - "I really love editing. Watching a picture come together as i edit along." • Luke Peters - "I build custom websites and web apps. Hire me to actually code instead of pretending for the camera 😃" • Paolo Nicolello - "A dog sitting on a couch." • Christina @ wocintechchat.com - "untitled image" • Curology - "untitled image" • Thought Catalog - "If you use this image, we’d appreciate a link back to our website www.quotecatalog.com."