Tips from the Field – Remote Workers to the Rescue!

by Grace Cosgrove
March 22, 2020

For some of you who had a wonderful experience working from home last week, this one seems like an easy task. You were well set up, productive, and had no issues with the change of scenery. However, if you are coming into this week feeling daunted by the prospect of trying this remote working lifestyle out – keep reading.

To help ease the particularly significant Monday blues this week, two of Enterprise Solutions’ experienced remote workers have a few tips to share from the field. Shane O’Neill and Derek Cooke are both Senior Solutions Architects on the Enterprise Solutions team. Our offices may be based in Sandyford, but both of these architects work from their homes in other Irish counties.

Take a look at their advice for newcomers to the world they are well accustomed to by now.

Location, Location, Location!

Derek Cooke highlights the importance of having “your own dedicated work area set up”. His area is comprised of a “room upstairs that is now converted from a storage room into an office space, with desk, PC, laptop and other essentials in place”. Derek’s converted office space may not be an option in the short notice given to many of us who are newly working from home. But the important thing to note is the need to dedicate a space in your home to work. Sitting there whilst in work mode, each day, will help focus the mind, especially if you are used to working in an office environment.

Shane O’Neill adds that “if you are used to the background of an office space, you can find the silence of working from home a shock to the system. Do listen to some music or the radio. Do not watch Netflix!” Alternatively, there are several websites you can find with a quick Google that offer background noise such as a coffee shop, rain, white noise, a fan, etc. which can work as a replacement for an office environment; or a way of muting other sounds that are going on in the background.

Timing is everything!

Working in an office revolves around a clock. One day you don’t know how it is already 12 o’clock, whereas another you are making a second coffee at 10 am to wake the brain.

At home, time is a little more askew. Shane advises newly remote workers to “Set time limits. Don’t work all day long, separate work from home.” Derek adds that “identifying set working hours is also quite important as sometimes employees can fall into the trap of operating around the clock to try and make up for the fact they are not in the office every day”. Whether that be sticking to your office routine, starting at X breaking for lunch at Y and finishing at Z, try to emulate that at home to get yourself into the mindset that working from home is not all that different to an office!

Derek adds that “of course a level of flexibility is needed at times, so it’s always good to set an “earliest” and “latest” time you begin and finish work.” Even though we all know we might need to do some out of hours work, given the nature of some industries (including our own) – having these hours as a general rule of thumb will help you to switch off between working at home and being at home.

Take a break

“If you have a dedicated workspace room, leave it at least once an hour! It’s not meant to be a prison cell. Even if this is just to step outside for 30 seconds to get some fresh air” Shane shares as his third piece of advice.

In the office, you will have tea or coffee breaks. There are natural chats between co-workers; work-related or not. In-between meetings you are moving location, grabbing some water between calls, moving around or having a chat. Working at home, potentially alone, means that you might not be having these mini moments of relief in your working day.

Derek finds the same thing helps him during his day, taking “20 to 30 minutes to bring the dog for a walk breaks up the day and is also good for the mental health!” Social distancing is, of course, a huge factor in why working from home has been implemented by many companies. And so, if you feel going out for a walk is not a choice you wish to make during this time, open the window, step outside the door with a fresh cuppa, walk around the garden; breathe in some fresh air anywhere you can.

Derek has a few more tips for breaking up his working day; “it’s nice to eat lunch away from the office space, to unwind, and relax for a few minutes” adding that he “also makes sure to give someone a call (other than a customer) such as a family member or friend to have a non-work related chat!”

Using the collaboration tools you have available

Shane explains how important using collaboration tools to their fullest extent is: “This is what they were meant for. Turn on your webcam, enhance the human interaction factor as much as you can.” When dialing into a meeting or joining a conference call, turning on your camera can help aid the transition from face-to-face meetings to doing them virtually. If collaborating and communicating with your team has been something you struggled with previously when working at home, try a little face to face interaction with each other.

In Enterprise Solutions, we have a weekly coffee catch-up, ‘Bake Friday’, where we all take a few minutes to meet in the lunchroom and take a break from our work to socialise and catch up at the end of the week with co-workers. Last Friday, as so many of us are working from home, we called in remotely to the team in the office and joined in the usual Friday routine. If your office has weekly events or setups like ours, or even if you and a co-worker regularly get a coffee or lunch together during the week, try to keep that scheduled and have a go at doing it remotely.

Hopefully, these tips will give you a push in the right direction for the week ahead. Most importantly, our remote workers remind you to not beat yourself up about it! It has been a huge change and taking a few days to find what works best for you is only natural – especially if you have some new child-sized co-workers in your new office.

If you have found any tips or tricks that have helped you settle into working from home please let us know and we will share the wisdom.

We are all in this together, virtually!

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