Work from home tips
As we all know, the COVID-19 coronavirus has triggered a global health crisis. Businesses are temporarily closing offices, postponing events, prohibiting non-essential travel, and instructing employees to work from home.
So many situations—from disease outbreaks and natural disasters to geopolitical unrest and megastorms—can disrupt people’s lives, mobility, and ability to get work done. Having a remote access solution on hand can help build resilience to such situations by making it easy for people to work or collaborate remotely.
Even without disaster looming, remote access solutions provide individuals and engineering organizations with greater flexibility and avenues for success.
The global work-from-home movement intended to maintain output and efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic could actually generate a worldwide productivity slump and threaten economic growth for many years, says Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom.
Telecommuting is the future
Working remotely has become commonplace in today’s work environment. With the ease of plugging in and connecting from just about anywhere, employees have the flexibility and convenience of working from their home, a coffee shop, the library, and so on. Whether you have a regular work from home schedule or are able to work remotely during bad weather or illness, it is vital that your workers are set up for success.
With half of the global population are working from home, telecommuting has moved beyond being just another Millennial trend. It’s become a way of life, disrupting the traditional workplace as we know it with employees who are happier and more productive. Time to consider these benefits. Share the data and ask your current employer about the possibilities of telecommuting with the positive impact that works in favor of both the business and the worker amidst the pandemic. If you own your own business, depending on the roles and industry you are in, it may be beneficial to consider the telecommuting structure for your workforce.
Redefining communication norms
Office workers share a large amount of information in person — they stop by each others’ office to get advice, clarify expectations over coffee or gather by the water cooler to talk. Research shows that informal discussions help employees understand what’s happening on their teams and keep feelings of isolation at bay.
Teams that switch to remote work need to craft new communication norms that fit their new context. Team members should not be afraid of over-communicating at first, even if it feels wrong to do so.
Should industrial or tech employees work from home if the risk of coronavirus increases?
During the current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, most states have shelter in place/stay at home orders to prevent the spread of the virus. Employers are encouraged to allow work from home options, if feasible for their business. A few companies, like Google and Microsoft, are offering enhanced teleconferencing tools to their clients for free to help make it easier for people to work from home. It’s a good idea to understand the benefits, best practices and potential safety risks involved with remote work.
For example, calling a co-worker over the phone several times in a row might be frowned upon in an office context but is perfectly acceptable for teams switching to remote work.
New communication norms can only emerge from experimentation, and experimentation means trial and error.
Benefits of a work from home policy for construction companies
A work from home policy offers a variety of benefits to both the remote employee and their employers. According to Forbes, remote work can lead to increased productivity, which ultimately helps a business’s bottom line. Employees are more efficient as they are less distracted than in an office setting. Remote workers experience less stress as they don’t have to deal with the hazards of commuting, and lower stress levels lead to higher morale. With remote workers, companies can incur less overhead and operating costs to keep their business running smoothly, and they also may see a reduction in severe workers’ compensation claims.
Best practices when creating a work from home program for engineering firms
Businesses looking to introduce a work from home program should create specific guidelines to ensure all employees understand what is required from them when they work remotely. The key elements of work from home policy, which should be shared with the entire staff, include:
• Having the proper technology: Computer, email, phone conferencing, access to internal networks are all tools that employees need, whether they work from home or a public location.
• Using a secure connection: Remote workers should have a secured Wi-Fi network and work with a trusted virtual private network (VPN). The VPN serves as a buffer between the Wi-Fi connection and your mobile device or laptop. Any transmitted data is then encrypted to protect it from tampering and interception.
• Implementing communications programs: Stay in touch with employees who work from home via Teams, Skype, Slack and other messaging services. At times, remote workers can feel isolated from the rest of the team, so it is important to keep in contact with them via phone, email, messaging, or video conference.
• Setting clear expectations in your work from home policy: Create a work from home policy with your specific expectations of the program. The policy would include instructions for an employee’s daily work schedule, your company’s overtime policy, description of a dedicated workspace, instructions for reporting personal injury and damage to company equipment, and protection of proprietary company information.
• Testing the work from home program: If you are implementing a work from home policy, take the time to evaluate its effectiveness after at least six months. Adjust the program based on your findings.
• Trusting your employees: One of the most crucial elements of a work from home policy isn’t included in the actual document. Employers need to have trust in their employees to get their jobs done when they are not working onsite.
Managing work-life conflicts for manufacturing & industrial companies
Office workers are used to keeping their work and their private lives relatively separate in space and time (meaning they work at the office during work hours, and live life privately at home the rest of the time), which helps them limit conflicts between the two. Our sudden switch to remote work erases these boundaries, which blurs our responsibilities.
New remote workers, especially those with dependants, need to redefine the relationship between their work and their personal life. In order to limit conflicts and interruptions between the two, remote workers should negotiate with their managers a creative schedule that balances both responsibilities — for example, by alternating work and family responsibilities throughout the day.
Once set, employees should communicate with their co-workers when and how they can be reached for work matters.
Further, new remote workers who do not have a home office should refrain from working in areas that they typically use for relaxation, like a bed or the couch, as tempting as it may be.
Instead, they should reorganize their homes and use table or a desk in a quiet space as their workstation. Here as well, family members should be informed that this area is dedicated to work only.
Work from home is the new normal
Time management is one of the most common issues in the way of productivity under normal circumstances. But we are operating in strange times. Working from home automatically comes with its own additional time management challenges under regular circumstances. But we are all dealing with time management on top of the undeniably chaotic events that are unfolding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Embrace the new normal.