In March 2020, remote working quickly got a whole new meaning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, almost everyone was instructed to work remotely. Previously, remote work had been based on a voluntary nature, trust and letting the worker decide on their own work environment. Now, the situation is completely different.
Humans are naturally gregarious animals whose basic needs include various types of contact with other humans. In recent years, the conversation around planning work environments has included the question of how much remote work people should do and how often we would want people to come to the office and interact with their colleagues.
In my own work-related bubble, there has been no discussion for some time of measuring working efficiency, trust, or whether or not people are doing the right work when they work remotely. These days, it is more common to hear discussion of whether people are meeting each other enough and ponderings of how team spirit can be maintained when team members are increasingly retreating into their own spaces with the aid of virtual systems.
In many sectors, remote working culture has developed to become part of a company’s normal work week and has been used to ease everyday demands and streamline the work process. Remote work, in itself, is nothing new to many people. Now, however, the situation is exceptional, as everyone who possible can is simultaneously shifting to working remotely for what could well be weeks on end. We have never been in this situation before.
I compiled a list that I believe will help us orientate ourselves to these exceptional circumstances:
Communication and prioritization:
Maintain close contact with your team and colleagues. Share ideas and tasks in such a way that you are still working sensibly and productively.
It is very important that work does not halt and that business continues as normal where possible. The importance of good management and communication is highlighted more than ever in a crisis situation. People have to know what management’s priorities are and what tasks should be prioritised and to trust that the situation within the company is in hand.
Now, at the latest, is the time to update your remote working equipment and software. There could hardly be a better time to brush up on the use of digital equipment and software.
Time management and assessing your own work
Some of those who frequently work remotely may have noticed that many things can get done faster from home than they do at the office. It is important to recognize what the quality of your own work is in relation to the time used on it. One of the most important new work-related skills is self-assessment and management of your own time and resources. If you feel like this is not working and that confusion is sapping too much of your energy, it is worth letting your supervisor or team know right away. There are always solutions to be found when challenges are discussed openly.
Working conditions and ergonomics
Arrange your space to be as peaceful and comfortable as possible—a place where you can concentrate and effectively do your work. As in any modern office, it is important to change your sitting position regularly and remember to move around throughout the day. The couch can be a comfortable place for a while, but I would not recommend it as a place to spend your entire working day. When working from home, it is just as important to take breaks and make sure you are eating and drinking at appropriate intervals. It may be a good idea to have these things planned out from the start of the day and to maintain a sensible everyday rhythm.
My most important recommendation for working remotely right now is to stay positive and look to the future. It is good to consider what the most important elements that make your work meaningful are and what are most worthwhile from the employer’s perspective. I would put most of my concentration into these things and try to share this constructive attitude with the other members of my work community.
It will be interesting to see how our values change after this crisis has passed. What are the things that will come to the fore in our minds and what will change in the future? It may well be that we find ourselves suddenly enjoying and even looking forward to the background noise of our offices. Hopefully, we will all be back out there soon.
Tiia Rauhamäki works for Technopolis as a Concept Manager and Workplace Transformation Specialist. Tiia’s special interests include human beings, workspace functionality and wellbeing at work.