The majority of businesses in New Jersey began their official work from home protocol the week of March 15. During that period, companies had to adapt quickly to a new and unstable daily environment. Now, approximately eight weeks later, what have we learned?
Here are some key lessons:
- Communication. One thing that has come to everyone’s attention is how easy it is to go dark. The breakdown in communication is the number-one problem most organizations have with working from home. Those who are succeeding right now are using communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, Skype and app-based phone systems to keep employees, managers, owners and clients all within close contact.
- Routines. Many people thrive on the structure that a typical 9-to-5 routine gives their lives. Our current work-from-home situation allows many people to fall out of those routines. Stories of people working in their pajamas or gaining the ‘Quarantine 15’ are becoming more and more common. Getting into a standard routine and treating your remote working situation similar to your office situation is essential to productivity. Creating and enforcing a schedule, regular eating habits and dedicated down time are all key to both productivity and mental health.
- Security. Getting thrown into a remote working environment has forced many workers, managers, businesses and customers into situations where time and convenience make security and privacy take a back seat. With such an increased usage of electronic tools to send and receive information, all users need to be well aware of how this information could be exposed and what the potential risk of that exposure is. Email, electronic signatures, secure portals, encryption and personally identifiable Information are all hot areas that all remote workers need to be concerned about.
- Separation. Now that you have figured out how to work, have you established how to turn it off? Many people are experiencing the effect of working even more hours and disrupting more personal and family time by always having access to their email and company resources through portable computers and mobile devices. This can put additional stress onto a working relationship and add additional burdens to an already difficult working environment. Setting dedicated out-of-office hours can help make working hours more productive and non-working hours more rewarding.
One thing to note is that this is an ever-evolving and changing business landscape. The rules that apply today may not apply tomorrow. And once our country begins to take steps to fully open up safely, the rules will change again. Our ability to adapt and pivot in real time will ensure our success not only as individuals, but as organizations and as a country.