Working From Home and Keeping UK Business Alive
The UK is facing a workplace shake up as many office-based staff startworking from home. Find out how companies can help keep operations running.
In recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of daily life, and the workplace hasn’t been immune to this disruption. Companies across the globe have had to make difficult decisions quickly as they try to keep their employees safe and operations running smoothly. One of the most crucial aspects of making this happen has been the emergence of remote working as a viable alternative to physical office spaces – but it’s important companies get it right.
While flexible and remote working has been on the rise over a decade, the need for social distancing in the current climate means many businesses have had to adopt this way of working overnight. This comes with its challenges, of course, but with the wealth of technology and flexibility present in modern businesses, adapting to a new way of working allows businesses to keep operating through what could be a difficult period.
In this piece, we look at the impact of the pandemic on working life, how the nation’s businesses are adapting to the health crisis and some top tips for making remote working as smooth a process as possible.
Top tips for adapting to remote working
As staff settle into working from home, they’ll soon start to realise what works for them and what doesn’t. Companies can help this bedding in process by providing staff with some top tips to give them the start they need in the new world of work, helping them to stay productive and happy at work, including:
- Clearly define your workspace
- Try to keep your home and work life separate
- Take regular breaks from work and ensure you get exercise daily
- Set boundaries for others in your home, to reduce distractions, and maintain productivity
- Aim to keep to your normal routine as closely as you can
- Communicate with your colleagues regularly, where possible
Stay connected with others
One of the biggest challenges of having a company-wide working from home policy is keeping communications channels both open and effective in a world where people no longer have the luxury of face-to-face interaction. Where a meeting could normally help to secure new work, brief in employees or present ideas, businesses now need to get creative.
Keeping in touch with clients
For business development teams, the biggest challenge will be staying in touch with clients during challenging periods. The vast majority of companies will see some sort of business impact as a result of the pandemic, some of which may impact their budgets or buying intentions.
As salespeople, it’s important to talk to clients during this period to find out how the situation is affecting them, offering support where you can and perhaps even looking at ways to get creative with budgets to help them spread or reduce payments until things return to normal.
Of course, staying in touch comes with its own problems. Your contacts are no longer at the end of a phone or in their office for a meeting, so you need to look for new ways to stay in touch. Thankfully, there are many communications channels you can utilise effectively from home, including Microsoft Teams, which has seen a 500% increase in meetings and calls in recent months, Skype, Zoom, Slack and many other channels.
When talking to clients in a home working environment, remember:
- Video is important. Turning on your camera helps everyone feel less isolated and can help push the human side of your communication.
- Check in regularly. As the situation with the pandemic develops, things will change daily for businesses, so it can pay to be in contact more often.
- Be flexible. If a client’s business is impacted, take a sympathetic approach and work with them to find a solution that works in the short term. It could paint you in a good light in the long term.
Keeping in touch with employees
If you normally work in an office, chances are you will take the ability to interact with your staff for granted. But those little chats to check in on project progress and the small talk about non work-related things can quickly be missed when you’re working from home. With that in mind, it’s vitally important to keep communications channels open to retain a sense of normality.
To effectively communicate as a team, you should:
- Book in more regular team meetings. People can easily lose track of what’s happening with the business and projects if they’re not in the office.
- Hold informal catch ups. Take the chance to just chat as a team. Whether it’s music, sport or the latest box sets, take some time to just talk and forget about work.
- Get top tips. Ask people to share what’s working from them and what problems they face to encourage employees to help each other.
- Get creative. Have some fun with your communications. Ask people to send in pictures of their home offices to share around or try a quiz one lunch time to keep spirits high.
Taking care of your employees as a leader
Working from home isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is something many people are having to adapt to for the first time. The most important thing a leader can do when everyone is working remotely is to frequently reach out and support their team. Naturally, your staff are going to have questions around the process as more announcements come to light.
Keep in touch regularly and make yourself available for any questions or concerns they may have. Productivity can be a huge hurdle to overcome as employees adapt to working in a new environment. Take the time to understand your team’s needs and ensure they are getting the right support to address any issues.
Isolation can be duanting for many people, so ensure you regularly check in on them, in case of any potential mental health issues. Regular contact can alert you to someone who’s struggling so you can raise concerns with HR or have an open discussion with the employee to offer your help.
For more working from home support, tips and remote sales strategies, you can join our weekly remote Sales Surgery session with leading experts and special guests in the area of business development.