Two weeks ago our employees began moving out of the office and into their home offices, setting off a period of learning for both ourselves and our customers. While Evron is classified as an essential service– permitting employees to be in the office with certain precautions– we have opted to work from home to do our part in flattening the curve.

For most, it’s the first time they have been working remotely for such an extended period. For others, it’s re-learning what it’s like to be around loved ones for full days, adjusting to social distancing, and managing being a parent with having a job.

At Evron, we have been able to move through training and setup of technology swiftly thanks to an infrastructure that supports remote work. Last week, we published a post on what your business needs to sustain effective remote working. Of course, working from home has challenges beyond just the technical, but we have seen technology help overcome many of these hurdles.

Remote working can be rewarding and productive but it requires structure just like anything else. We wanted to share with you some tips that we found helpful. They may make your team’s adjustment to working from home a little easier too:

1. Morning Wake Up Call

When you’re working from home the ability to stay in bed just a little longer can be tempting. Avoid starting your day irregularly in ways that can deter you from getting on with your day. A good workaround is setting up a daily morning meeting with your team to chat and set intentions. A good app that supports remote teams like Microsoft Teams can make this simple with scheduling assistance, Outlook Calendar integration, chat, and video calls. You can help motivate each other through discussing new developments and creating team checklists so you know what you have to tackle.

2. Block Time Off For Yourself

We’ve been seeing it over and over again since our teams became remote; people get caught up in working and quickly lose track of time. In the office, you are confronted with cues like growing chatter in the halls, the smell of your cubicle neighbor’s food, and everyone’s unavailability between the hours of twelve and one. At home, these cues are almost non-existent. Block time in your calendar for breaks so you get a reminder when it’s time to give yourself some time to decompress.

Your health comes above all else, so it’s important to care for your physical and mental well-being. Eat something, call your family or friends, and go stretch. You may feel obligated to not take breaks for the sake of productivity, but it’ll lead to burn out later on. 20% of American employees feel that their superiors won’t think they’re working hard if they take regular lunch breaks. This tells us that business leaders need to encourage their team to take breaks. A happier and healthier team = a more effective team. 

3. Work At Home, Not Alone

People often associate working at home with loneliness. While you are physically away from your team, you don’t have to disengage from them. In a healthy office, employees take time to chatter about things outside the office in the halls and in the kitchen. Don’t forget about this when you’re at home! Take the time to check in with your co-workers and give them a call to just talk. We’ve seen employees set up meetings to discuss their favourite show the day after it airs, and lunch video calls where everyone eats together digitally. Just having a colleague on the phone while you both work can prove helpful. Working shouldn’t become lonely and grueling, keep it fun and light.

Message your co-workers on apps like Microsoft Teams or use Sharepoint to keep the office updated on what’s up on a central site. Stickers, GIF’s and emojis are all a great way to share the positivity.

4. Keep Building Team Culture

When everyone is in their own silos and managers are working hard to make sure the business is still reaching its goals, team culture can quickly take a backseat. We encourage you to keep your company culture at the forefront. Maintaining and building team culture is arguably more important now than when all your employees were in the office. Setting up virtual events and opportunities that allow employees to connect unrelated to business can enhance the effectiveness of remote collaboration, increase employee satisfaction, and remove the mundanity that can come with continual individual work.

Use your HR team to find new ways to engage your employees! Our social committee team is scheduling online events to host on Microsoft Teams. Teams can accommodate up to 250 people, allowing our whole office to join in on the fun. Virtual Tai-Chi classes, meditation classes, a lunch hour Netflix Party are a few of the ways you can bring your team closer together.

5. Set Policies and Boundaries

Business leaders need to provide employees guidance on how to work from home and what expectations are. Each business is different, so it’s important you work with management to create a document outlining policies on using business equipment, data protection, working hours, appropriate usage of messaging services, when employees can turn off apps like Teams,  etc. This is uncharted territory for many of your employees, and they will understandably need help transitioning. Here’s a great guide Microsoft created as a template for businesses.

Your employees were likely sent home with little time to prepare. Keep your lines of communication open and talk to your employees about what works and what doesn’t. Create an infrastructure and a team that keeps iterating your remote work procedures to optimize your employee’s happiness and productivity.

Those are five things we’ve learned in the last two weeks. What about you? Is there anything you would add to this list?

Evron is a leading end-to-end IT service provider. You can read more about our collaboration tools and how they support remote work here.