How to get the best out of home working

Mum working from home with a small child

Working from home

So, it seems that there is no let-up in the need or the desire to work from home. We think the future for most of us will be more home-working than ever before. And there will be a significant new category of part office-based and part home-based worker. 


Helping clients to implement work-from-home is right up our street. So, we thought we’d give a run-down of the things to do to ensure this works for you. 


Get the hardware right


Having supported lots of businesses to transition to home working, we believe there are a few bits of essential kit that you will need to get the most effective results. They include a reasonably high-spec laptop from a reliable brand, a printer (inkjet or laser, depending on volume of print), a webcam to increase the quality of your video and audio on video calls, and whatever it takes to get a high-speed internet connection.


Then there is the set-up. For internet connectivity, it’s not just the connection speed of your supplier, but the router location in relation to your work (and any other needs within your home).


Security


Up to date and properly specced hardware with suitable security running on modern operating systems. That is the starting point of secure working. 


Consider the needs of your employees


There are of course limits to home working. It must be remembered that your employees’ living arrangements might be different from yours. We’ve delivered network cables to people working on dining room tables. If a couple living together are both trying to work from home – how many offices are they able and willing to create in one home?


Then there is the well-discussed area of mental health impacts from reduced social interaction. This should always be a top consideration, from a moral point of view as well as the productivity case. In the past, employers created and managed a working environment in which employees spent significant but limited time.  Now, if directing employees to do significant work from home, making demands on their time, this has a knock-on effect on other aspects of their lives and may require significant alone time. That presumably confers a responsibility.


We believe it’s important for a team to get together at least some of the time. Those who go in even once a week or less get a huge benefit from it. The better a team knows each other, the better they work together. And, let’s be honest, it limits the chances of misunderstanding and even conflict. 


Human interaction


Ultimately, we are at our core social beings. Yes, this may vary from person to person, but few of us are happy on our own for long periods. 


There is a business case also. Some things are better done in groups. In our case, it is an  inevitable part of our job to try things out. To experiment. To constantly seek new and better ways of doing things. The technology we have at our disposal is ever-changing. It can be combined in different ways. Sometimes our job is to find a new way of doing something for a client. Sometimes we are trying to achieve something never done before. For example, transferring data from one place to another in a useful way. Then there is the fault-finding aspect of our work, requiring systematic action. It’s easy to see how all of this activity can benefit from a group of skilled people in a room, sharing ideas. It makes everyone better.


So, in our case, and given our desire to make decisions by consensus … We voted to return to the office at the earliest opportunity. But we do like to go home and work on our own projects every so often. 


Better scheduling of work


In large companies, we believe the concept of hotdesking will find a new lease of life.


Working together in the office no longer has to mean people from diverse teams all present at the same time. There is value in a team being together, even if it’s half a day, once a week. Office working could be coordinated partly on a team basis, and partly on an individual level. Cross-department working? Ditch the meeting in the diary; get together in the same office for a day instead. 


In our business, there is a huge amount of learning to be done. Let’s figure out a new way of doing things, transfer knowledge, and upskill each other in multi-disciplined work.

The future may be less space per company, used efficiently. 


True flexibility


Flexibility is a two-sided issue. There has to be some overarching control of deadlines. Sometimes these just can’t be moved. And there has to be some level of capacity for urgent work. That’s where there is no substitute for committed people who trust each other. 

Are you happy with your working arrangements? Do you prefer to work from home or the office, or does a mix of both suit you best? Let us know your thoughts.

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