With incidences of Coronavirus continuing to rise sharply, the latest UK government advice is that those who can work from home should do so to help prevent further spread of the disease.
If your organisation is one which does not need face to face interaction, then you are probably currently considering ways to minimise the unnecessary exposure of your workforce to potential risk, whilst ensuring that your business delivery remains unaffected.
Concerns over the virus have led to more remote working in recent weeks, with increased demand for remote working tools. At the WSA, we have been exploring ways to stay connected and keep motivated, and looking at digital solutions for how we can continue to work productively outside of the office. If any WSA members would like advice or support on this, please get in touch.
In response to the increased demand and to support global health, a number of companies are offering free trials of remote working products. For example:
- Microsoft is going to offer free six-months trials to the premium version of Microsoft Teams. The free version of Teams limits users in terms of some of the calling and meeting features, and the company is now offering the paid version for free for the next few months.
- Zoho is another to have announced that their new platform Remotely will be free until July 1st. Similar to Teams, it provides a suite of web and mobile apps to help you communicate and collaborate.
- Slack is a workplace communication tool – an instant messaging system with lots of add-ins for other workplace tools. There are two methods of chat in Slack: channels (group chat), and direct message or DM (person-to-person chat). Slack is free for small teams trying out Slack for an unlimited period of time or around £5/6 per user a month.
- Zoom is also a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems. It’s basic offer is free or around £11 a month for most SMEs.
- Webex is an online meeting platform which enables video conferencing and online chat and collaboration. They are currently offering the first month free when you sign up for a monthly plan or four months free when purchasing an annual plan. It’s around £12 – £22 per host depending on the size of your organisation.
- Dropbox lets you upload and transfer files to the cloud and share them with anyone. You can back up photos, videos, docs, and other files to cloud storage, and access files synced with any of your computers or mobile devices.. The basic platform is free or the professional platform is around £17 a month.
- Google Hangouts and Google Drive are another means of collaborating and sharing folders online. You can access 15GB free or from £1.60/mth for 100GB.
Our Home Nations colleagues the SRA have produced templates to help organisations with the transition to working from home and to provide a best practice support resource for your HR team:
Working from home – Risk Assessment
Staying Productive at Home
It’s not just technology that helps you be productive when working remotely, many experts point to the behaviours needed to ensure you keep your work on track at home. These include:
1. Set aside a specific place exclusively for work – as it will help you psychologically. Experts agree that having a dedicated space will help that productive mindset.
2. Create a daily work schedule. It’s easy to get sucked into being available to work any time, any day. Try to set defined work hours to avoid phone calls and emails without impacting on your personal time.
3. Dress for Success. Get out of those pj’s, eat properly and make sure you take regular breaks. Go outside if you can to get fresh air and stay active.
4. Be an extrovert. Working remotely can prevent you from building workplace relationships and chances to meet new people. Every so often, make a phone call instead of sending an email or text, and use the video technology available to keep connected.
The WSA continues to be open for business, and whilst we have put on hold face-to-face interactions, we welcome phone calls and remote meetings, so please do get in touch if you need support.
You may be interested in other recent articles which include advice on remote working:
Coronavirus: How to be productive if you have to work from home Independent 16.03.2020
Working from home? Video conference call tips for the self-isolating Guardian 14.03.2020
How to Work From Home: 20 Tips From People Who Do It Successfully Hubspot 13.03.2020