Remote Working

Some people thrive on it, many people hate it – but remote working has become more and more common across all types of organisations.  Today’s technology makes it very easy for employees to work remotely but still remain connected via a variety of means.

By saving their employee’s time on the daily commute, bringing an end to useless, time wasting meetings and the ‘water cooler gossip’ remote workers make for a more productive workforce, enjoying a happier and healthier work-life balance. On top of this, organisations are also able to save money by using smaller office spaces and reduce spending on office supplies and benefits such as complimentary snacks – IBM reported saving over $100 million a year since beginning their remote working policy.

However, despite these big savings, some businesses have, in the last few years called their workers back to the office – IBM, Reddit, Bank of America and Honeywell are among employers who have ended or reduced remote working as managers demand more collaboration, closer contact with customers and more control over the workday

Richard Branson is a huge advocate for ‘flexible working’ at Virgin.  Through its numerous brands, Virgin employs more than 71,000 people in 35 countries around the world and is dedicated to creating a positive work environment for its employees. Virgin business magnate Richard Branson believes in giving employees the liberation to work from wherever they choose, “safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise” to produce excellent work, “whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen,” stating that he “has never worked out of an office and never will.”

Here are some top tips to making it work.

1.       Exercise

It doesn’t have to be a pre-work 7.15am circuit training class, but even just going out for walks, stepping into the garden and a few times a week doing something a little more energetic will keep your mind more alert, and ensure that your home office doesn’t become too all-consuming. Many gyms offer an ‘off peak’ membership – perfect for those of us not constricted to traditional work hours.

2.       Meet Others

Say yes to work meetings outside the office and networking events. Make plans to meet colleagues and clients face to face. Even if you don’t have anyone specific to meet – schedule days to work from a hot desk or a coffee shop. Homeworking saves a lot of time-wasting gossip and office chit-chat, but you still need to spend some time away from your home to keep you sane.

3.       Breaks and Time Management

One of the joys of working remotely is that you don’t have to strictly abide by 9-6pm working hours, however, it is helpful to some kind of routine to ensure that you get to the end of your to do list. Every morning, plan your day and schedule in some break time – half an hour for coffee and to catch up on the news, a proper lunch break, an afternoon walk around the block.

4.       Housework is a no-no

As tempting as it may be, try to limit tasks such as the laundry, making beds; tackling the dirty sink during the day. Schedule chores to the weekend or after work hours, just as you would if you were office based. Believe me, something as simple as hanging out the washing seems fine, but then it rains and then shines again and you find an hour is gone pegging and unpegging when you should have been working or having proper time off.

Blurring chores and work is often a way of avoiding tackling those things that need to be done.

5.       Collaboration

Continue to find regular time to talk to your colleagues/manager/employees on a regular (at least weekly) basis. Use the various technical/communication tools out there to share work, ideas, brainstorm problems, share successes, remember you are still part of a team and support each other. We work better as a team and more likely to succeed if we share ideas.

Also, find time to include social discussions, just because you are not in an office, doesn’t have to mean the end of office banter.

6.       Embrace creativity

It may feel like an abuse of your position, but spending some time in quiet downtime allows ideas to flow, don’t feel guilty about time spent contemplating ideas or reflecting different approaches to your work.  A few minutes gazing out the window or strolling round the park may inspire something you weren’t expecting. 

7.        Protect your weekends

It is very easy to constantly be working and available when you’re a home-worker. But do try to keep some extended time that is completely work-free, put away the laptop, close the home office door and turn off email notifications otherwise we are no better off than the stressed-out commuters and office workers.

Since Louise Vine, MD, became a working mum herself, she appreciates that juggling a full-time job in a busy recruitment agency and dealing with 2 small children is no simple task.  Doctor’s appointments, school pick-ups, sports days etc, all happen in the middle of the working-day. How is it possible to work 8-6pm and still dedicate essential time to the family? Allowing her co-workers the same flexibility, she has been able to attract mature, experienced consultants and support staff who are trusted to catch up on their work outside the office.

As mentioned above, technology has allowed us to do this. When Louise first started out in recruitment, logging in remotely to the company’s systems was unheard of. Now with Cloud-based technology, it has become the norm for many of our clients, and it’s a huge selling tool when attracting candidates.

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