Remote Working Through the COVID-19 Crisis

June 9th, 2020

By Dale Reeves, UX & Change Management Specialist, IComm

We are living through an unprecedented public health crisis that has wide reaching impacts for our wellbeing, careers, businesses and the wider economy. Many of us, including the Team at IComm, are now predominately working from home and this will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. This, like many changes can be hard on people therefore If you are a person who has been required to work from home suddenly or change your working arrangements because of the current COVID-19 situation then this read will give you some useful tips.


Tip 1: Be mindful of your posture

As this crisis hit suddenly, many of us were not prepared with a fully equipped home office environment. This lack of ergonomic set up can be bad for our health. You may also have limited space whilst home-schooling kids and multiple people in your household requiring space to work or to educate themselves remotely.

Make sure you use a desk or table that is of a good height for you and look to adjust the height of your computer or monitor so that you are always looking straight ahead.

Tip 2: Take short breaks

If you have meetings that don’t require video, you may consider going for a walk around the house, or backyard, while on the phone or using a cordless headset; this gives you the opportunity to integrate physical activity into your workday which will improve your health. You might also want to set your Laptop up outside and work from there for periods if you can, this will help you get a good dose of daylight and fresh air at the same time.

Setting an alarm is a good way to remember to take a break and try as best as possible to make sure that lunch and other short breaks do take place. To avoid interruptions, it is a good idea to move away from your computer and smart devices during this time.

Tip 3: Boost your productivity with good habits

When you’re working from home there can be blurred lines between work and personal time. Working from a dedicated workspace and setting the days agenda including breaks will help. The following will also help you keep productive:

  1. Set your regular alarm to help you retain your usual sleep patterns and keep your body-clock in sync.
  2. Keep a routine when you get up. Eat breakfast and get dressed. You might even have more time for a morning workout.
  3. Set designated working times.
  4. Take regular breaks as you would when in the office. Get up and walk away from the computer during these breaks.
  5. Avoid distracting temptations; don’t turn the television on until after the end of your work hours.
  6. Drink plenty of water. Regularly getting up to fill up your water also gives your eyes a break from the screen and stretches your legs.
  7. Avoid clutter. Your home setup may not be as streamlined as in the office. You may wish to invest in wireless devices to reduce wires (or consolidate and organise them). Clean up your desk at the end of the working day as you would when in the office.


Tip 4: Communicate and collaborate using your pre-existing resources.

Microsoft Teams is a solution that a lot of companies already have access to through their Microsoft 365 subscription which enables staff to chat, meet, call and collaborate from anywhere. Microsoft Teams allows staff to continue to work together remotely, as does Zoom, which is another tool that is in high demand by business for conferencing and collaborative purposes.

Rapid movement towards using these platforms needs to be dealt with cautiously with appropriate support mechanisms in place. Organisations like IComm have been working around the clock to help organisations with this rapid transition; from the technical challenges to end user adoption, training and support. 

Tip 5: Schedule informal chats and keep in contact

Important discussion and building rapport with your fellow staff often happens informally during ‘water cooler’ chats. If you live alone, you might also be missing the casual engagement with other humans.

Try to schedule informal chats with colleagues. You may wish to set up a regular ‘coffee’ meeting first thing in the morning that is optional and open to all. If you regularly have Friday night drinks at your office keep these going! Get everyone to dial in with a beverage. Conduct these using Microsoft Teams or Zoom and make sure everyone turns on their video to get that missing ‘face to face’ engagement. Use these meetings to check on the wellbeing of your fellow colleagues and how they are going in isolation and try to keep them informal.

Tip 6: Staying connected.

WIFI connectivity and reliability of internet services is a challenge as so many more people are online at the same time from home whilst doing resource intensive activities like video conferencing. If you are experiencing slow speeds it might be worth getting in contact with your internet service provider to check if there are plans with faster speeds that are available (and affordable) to you. Investing in an internet hotspot can also act as an interim solution to help get you through.

Poor lighting can impact the way we appear during video calls so it’s important to ensure you have sufficient lighting, having a light in front of you will help to highlight you whist having a light behind you tends to make your appearance harder to see. If you cannot move the light from behind you, you may need to move locations for video calls. Use a certified headset and microphone if you can, so that your colleagues can hear and see you well.

Tip 7: Remember the positives and keep perspective

It’s easy to dwell on the negatives and the challenges of staying at home. There are, however, positives to this situation. We can be less distracted by colleagues thus getting more work done.

Many of us are eating more home cooked meals and eating less out, which is both saving money and, in most cases, healthier. Those who are traveling less are also saving money on petrol and transit costs.

A lot of people are also taking advantage of the extra time to exercise which is recommended to not only stay physically but also mentally fit.

Looking to the future

We are not sure how long we will be working from home at this time or what will happen when the world returns back to ‘normal’. Maybe after all this settles down, we will be accustomed to our new schedules and ways of working.

Some may wish to continue working remotely at least one or two days a week. New tools and products will emerge to help make this a reality. Some will have reassessed what was important to them and make career and lifestyle changes based on this.

Change is unpredictable, but IComm is here to help you implement and use remote working technologies in the right way to keep your business on track. We specialise in helping organisations modernise their workplaces whilst assisting staff in the transition through to new ways of working. We have qualified change managers who are here to help.