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Remember when working from home was a novelty?
Ten months since the beginning of the pandemic and when many of us switched to remote work, yet there’s still no sign that most of us will be returning to the office soon. While we might have come to terms with how the typical workplace will look in the future and the realities of the work from home life, that doesn’t mean we’ve fully embraced it or found our groove.
This current landscape is especially hard for small businesses. Any threat to their ecosystem can lead to lay-offs or closed doors. And changing up the standard workplace dynamic can shake the foundation a little harder than it would for larger corporations.
So to help ease you along, we’ve put together our best tips for small businesses and employees attempting to lean into working from home and embrace its benefits — instead of getting discouraged by its drawbacks.
Tips For Transforming Your Business to Remote
Find Your New Routine
It’s never easy to change routines overnight. But now that you’ve had some time to settle in, you should probably have a good idea of what’s working for you and your team and what isn’t.
Encourage your team to hold on to what they find beneficial, particularly when it comes to the things that help put them in the right headspace to get their to-do list accomplished. Also, ask yourself whether there is anything you’re doing that is no longer helping, and therefore would benefit from a change. This could be rescheduling the weekly marketing meeting to a different time of day to accommodate team members working from home with children.
Make Time for Breaks
In the small business world, each employee is performing numerous duties. And while this is usually pretty manageable in an office environment, which is devoid of at-home distractions, it’s not always so manageable when you’re working remotely.
Incorporating breaks into your day — and encouraging others to do the same — will help prevent burnout and allow everyone to segment tasks for increased productivity. Your team may even uncover some other advantages of stepping away and taking some time for themselves, such as increased creativity or more productive and energized brainstorming sessions. Incorporating break time could prove to be so essential that it may be something to consider incorporating into the traditional nine-to-five workday.
Create a Designated Workspace
Working from the couch isn’t ideal. In fact, most people do a whole lot better when they set aside a specific space that’s just for work and nothing else. It can help them get into “the zone” and provide a physical differentiator for work time. Plus, it reduces the temptation to turn on the t.v. and get stranded in the daytime television tundra.
Perhaps you or some of your employees don’t have a ton of space at home to devote to a work spot. If so, kitchen or dining room tables it is! You could also encourage your team to safely swing by the office to grab their desk chairs or any other items they may have left behind that will help make their at-home workspace more legit.
Just because you can’t see your coworkers in close proximity doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize. Finding ways to keep up morale is important when everyone is working remotely, and doing so provides additional opportunities for engagement and relationship-building.
Consider scheduling virtual meetings, like happy hours or team Zoom lunches once a month where everyone can take a break and catch up on life. This can go a long way toward helping your small business team keep the closeness they’ve worked so hard to build.
Set Aside Time for No Interruptions
You can’t avoid all distractions at home, but the more they happen, the harder it’s going to be to concentrate and get stuff done. If you’ve got kids at home and are fortunate to have some help, coordinate with your partner to set aside time where you’re guaranteed no interruptions. Setting these boundaries — with your family and, to a point, with yourself — is important, as they provide you with pockets of time where you don’t have to worry about focusing your attention elsewhere.
Don’t Feel Pressure to Do it All
With so many people working remotely, it’s hard not to compare yourself to what others are doing. It’s perfectly okay to set limits for the sake of your own sanity, such as forgoing a full makeup routine before a day of video calls or not signing up for an hour-long virtual yoga class during your lunch break. So long as you’re doing your best and getting done what you need to get done, the rest is just extra.
Get Out of the House
Home may be where the heart is, but it’s still essential to get away sometimes. Go for a walk, hit up a drive-in movie theater after work, or meet up with a friend at the park for a socially-distanced hang. Not only is this key for your mental health, but it also helps you maintain balance so that you’re not just cycling between working, eating, and sleeping. Even with the limitations, there’s still lots to do and see out there — so enjoy, just stay safe.
We May Be Here a While
As previously stated, this period hasn’t been as temporary as we all initially envisioned it would be. A lot of businesses are reevaluating their structures and whether or not working remote will stick around in some capacity or another.
It’s probably not a bad idea to start thinking on whether or not your small business structure will change as a result of the pandemic. Once it’s safe, do you plan to resume business as before, with the majority (or all) of your team in-office? Or, maybe your team feels more productive at home, so a hybrid option could be a possibility. You can’t ignore the financial benefits that come with no longer paying rent on office space, so maybe a shift to completely remote is right for your business.
Another business process that is likely to continue to evolve is the way we recruit and bring on new hires. If we’re instilling more remote practices, then that means we can make job openings available to candidates in other geographical areas. But while there are benefits to remote hiring (like a larger candidate pool to choose from), how do you know if you’re bringing on the right person if you aren’t able to meet with them in person?
If you are serious about embracing the remote work wave, make sure you register for our webinar on January 27th. Natalie Morgan, Sr. Director of People at CareerPlug, will be discussing their 2021 Hiring Trends Report and how small businesses can implement remote hiring successfully.
There’s no “perfect” way to work from home, especially right now. Instead, pay attention to your personal needs and preferences, as well as the things that assist your small business team in doing their best work. Before you know it, we’ll be back in the office (and you might even miss these remote workdays).