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For those of us accustomed to having the luxury of being able to work from any location, this strange movie-like plot we’re living at the moment with enforced lockdown may not have been that much of a shock to the system…at least not from a work perspective – but not everyone has always had that luxury – so, what can we as Projects & Systems do to help and how do I continue to support my team in the process?

Flexi working is not a new concept to many people. It’s likely that at some point, in some capacity or another, you may have completed work from outside of the office. Whether that be answering emails whilst at home or joining conference calls with people from all four corners of the world in attendance…and the highs and lows that can bring, but I always prefer to meet face-to-face where possible, however, given the current climate, this simply isn’t possible, which means we had to take steps to prepare for a new way of working.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

We’re a sociable bunch (well most of us anyway *ahem*) and maintaining that feeling of still being close to our colleagues is important. Luckily there are tools built just for this very purpose! In the Projects & Systems department, we’ve been using Slack for some time now.

Slack is a work collaboration tool that makes communication within the department focused and easier to keep track of through the use of dedicated channels. Knowing the benefit this has had for us internally made it a great candidate to expand out to all the other departments so they too could keep in touch with their own teams and the rest of the company. Communication is key whilst working remotely, it’s easy to feel isolated (even when we’re not in forced isolation), and using Slack makes that process a whole lot easier…and the odd meme always helps raise a chuckle too!

Join.Me, and together we can rule the galaxy…

…just remember to stay 2 metres apart at all times! As much as I love a conference call (who doesn’t?) it can be difficult to “read” the room and in moments where face-to-face just isn’t possible, it’s Join.Me to the rescue.

Video Conferencing applications are a dime a dozen so this will be a case of “use what works for you” - but being able to share desktops and see your colleagues is the next best thing to being in the room…just remember to dress appropriately before you join that video call with your boss!

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The answer to life, the universe and everything

Ok, I can’t promise you’ll get all the answers here, but here are some tips that have helped me settle into that working from home mentality and how you can make the most of your day.

Make your work environment your own

How you approach working from home is equally as important as how you approach it in the office. Even though you’re not leaving the house to go to work, it needs to feel like a separate space. If you have a separate office – great! – But even if you don’t, ensure you have that dedicated space that you can leave at the end of the day. Try to make sure it isn’t from the sofa or the bedroom – these are places that you should associate with winding down…no good ever came from mixing business and pleasure!

Get ready for work as you normally would, put on the clothes you need and at the end of the day, take them off – this helps me get into the work mindset.

Set a schedule

Working from home you may find yourself putting in more time than you would in the office – got to put that time saved from not travelling to use somehow!

I find it helps to set a schedule for the day and stick to it as much as possible. Personally, the Pomodoro Technique is particularly useful in ensuring I stay focused on the task at hand. It’s a time management technique where you focus on a task for 25-minutes then take a 5-minute break once the timer is up – this is a great opportunity to grab a coffee or to stretch those legs - there’s great science behind the fact that actually taking regular breaks increases your productivity!

Where possible – mute all distractions

If you’re trying to focus on a task, put your personal phone out of arms reach and don’t be tempted by it – you can check it on your next 5-minute break!

Slack getting too much? – mute those chats for a while and/or set your status to Do Not Disturb.

It’s a big world out there

If possible, go for a walk before you start your day – just to avoid waking up and going straight to your chosen place of work. Failing that, try and get outside on one of your breaks – if only for some fresh air and (hopefully) sunlight!

This will help you to decompress after being at “work” all day.

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I hope you found these useful and if you have any tips or tools to share – I’d love to hear them.

Gary Rubery

Project Manager