Making Remote Work

With the publication of the government’s strategy last Friday on remote working, which includes the planned introduction of the right for employees to request a permanent remote working arrangement, many employees will be delighted that this could be the case, with others desperately waiting for a return to the office, and to get out of the house again every morning. In the meantime, a quick reminder of some useful practical tips for making remote working as easy as possible, for as long as it will remain necessary, in the short term at least, under Covid restrictions.

1. Routine Routine Routine

Whilst recognising that Covid circumstances may require a level of flexibility with working hours at home, (to ensure that the home schooling gets done for example), the necessity for routine and structure remains. Set a schedule and be clear as to what time is work time, whether its extra early starts or late ones. Its also important to have a morning routine that signals work is about to start (or if not morning at whatever time of the day that work starts) e.g getting dressed for work, coffee at desk.

2. Dedicated Work Space

A dedicated work space will frame a proper work environment, and hopefully switch you on to work and allow you to be more mentally focused. It may need to be a space that has another use at a different time of the day, if a spare bedroom or home office is not available, but either way, set it up properly with a chair, desk and lamp, rather than balancing the laptop on your knees. Important for your posture too.

Its also important to ensure that your work can be done privately. Most employers will have strict confidentiality requirements in respect of business being conducted at home. Do not leave work documents on the kitchen table for the neighbors to see (when they are allowed to visit again) or allow company equipment to be used by other family members.

3. Break Time

Take standard breaks as normal. Get out of the office (kitchen/bedroom). Stretch, go for a walk and ensure that you have time away from the screen. This will keep you energised and focused. Or have a virtual coffee and chat with a colleague as you would in the workplace.

4. Boundaries

It’s also important to set boundaries and switch off at the end of the working day. Whilst remote working can offer greater all round flexibility due to less travel and commuting, and indeed flexibility to deal with the many demands that Covid is placing on everyone, it is really important that this flexibility doesn’t get lost with always being switched on,and checking emails constantly. Switch the lap top and phone off, and use a different device for personal stuff.

(Note – There is also a Code of Practice planned in respect of the right to disconnect, due to be published in Q1, with consultation concluding yesterday 21.01.2021), with proposed responsibility being placed on employers to ensure that the they have a policy in this area, that is communicated to employees and implemented. This is not new for Covid purposes, and there have already been cases that have sent out strong messages to employers about the need to manage employee work time in line with the Organisation of Working Time Act, as well as some European countries already legislating in this area)

5. Keep Connected & Keep Communicating

Whilst organisations are using a variety of online collaborative platforms for fixed work purposes, sometimes it can still feel isolating to be at home or working remotely. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and turn on your video.! Keep talking to your manager and colleagues. Whilst it will help with work productivity and collaboration, it will also foster and help maintain connections, that are not so obviously available, when not together in the workplace.