Millions of employees across the globe are working from home for the first time as the world responds to the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though telecommuting has become more common in recent years, there are still many individuals who have been sent to work from home that have very little experience doing so, at least for this extended amount of time.
At Mitto, our international team transitioned to a 100% remote organization earlier this month to ensure the safety of our employees and do our part to stop the spread of this devastating virus. Thankfully, this was not a drastic shift for us as we have maintained a successful optional work-from-home policy for quite some time. Across all our offices, our employees have enjoyed flexibility in their ability to work remotely. We feel this benefited us well in ensuring no disruption to our operations when we enforced the temporary closing of our physical offices. For team members who have not worked from home very much in the past, however, our Human Resources specialists have been there to support them with strategies to help ensure success and happiness in this new environment.
We are sharing the practices we’ve incorporated in our home working culture at Mitto — tips and tricks we’ve learned from experience that can be applied to help teams stay focused and productive during the quarantine.
1. Setting up a separate workspace
Many people live in small spaces and — even for those in mansions — our homes were not built with our jobs in mind. Creating a separate work area may seem difficult but it’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be a full room. Even just a dedicated corner can mentally prepare us for work mode; a small desk set up in a section of the living room or a laptop at the end of the kitchen table. Ideally, it’s not a place where you usually go to relax, such as the sofa in the living room, but hey… if you feel the most productive on your couch, then you might as well go ahead and set up your home office there!
2. Getting technology in order
Technology is what enables remote work in the first place. Before sending our employees to work from home, our IT team made sure every team member was set up to use the technology and tools needed to perform their work at full capacity. Laptops, monitors, keyboards, headphones, mouse, as well as connectivity to the software and applications we use for our daily tasks. We are also offering support as needed to our employees with any WiFi issues in their homes as a lot of suppliers have been experiencing problems due to the high volume of use.
3. Embracing the webcam
During coronavirus isolation, we do not have the benefit of seeing people’s faces during interactions. It’s a valuable aspect of human communications that is unfortunately absent during social distancing. At Mitto, we’ve leveraged video conferencing for many years to connect our global team. Some of our employees have never met face-to-face but they certainly don’t feel that way thanks to modern webcams. Go ahead and turn on the webcam when joining weekly meetings and calls with potential and current customers. Not only does this help facilitate more natural conversation, but webcams can help make us feel closer to people during this time of isolation. Seeing a friendly face and a person’s smile will definitely brighten your day during the quarantine!
4. Not skipping the coffee breaks
For some, it can be surprising how much work you can get done while working from home. But at the same time, we advise our employees to set boundaries and not to feel guilty about taking a break from work! When you work in an office, the day is broken up with friendly conversations, walks out for lunch, and of course multiple coffee breaks. Employees should make sure they step away from their computers at regular intervals to get some sunlight and fresh air (if it’s safe) or just move to another area of the house to check in on Mom with a FaceTime call. At Mitto, we’ve also organized remote coffee sessions to keep in touch with our colleagues informally; to have some fun casual chat and build more meaningful interactions to nurture our relationships.
5. Balancing between life and work
In order to keep a healthy life balance during quarantine, we suggest our employees make sure they wake up at their typical time and stick to a morning routine. Have breakfast, turn on the laptop, and start working. We also encourage our employees to continue their regular exercise routines when home in order to stay healthy. To support this, we’ve enabled access to online workouts and other home training guides.
It is also very important to know when to stop working and put the laptop away in the evening to minimize the temptation to continue working through dinner and into the evening. This protects mental and physical wellbeing as we all need to rest and recover to keep productivity high for our customers.
According to Owl Labs 2019 State of Remote Work report, remote workers are not only happier at work, but they’re 13% more likely to stay at their current job for the next 5 years than their onsite counterparts. At Mitto, we’ve learned there can be many benefits to a work-from-home culture, even during these difficult times. As one of our colleagues explained: ‘’The best thing about home working is that my daughter doesn’t have to wait until late in the evening to see me. I can close my laptop immediately after work and start playing with her.’’ Now that sounds like work-life balance.
Regardless of long-term plans for remote work, the bottom line right now is to #stayhome and to ensure team success in doing so. Consider it an opportunity to elevate corporate culture and enhance the relationship between employee and employer.