The current pandemic has probably accelerated organizations’ plans for working from home by five years and digital transformation is now taking months rather than years.
So, the world that IT organizations have been moving steadily towards – supported by the digitally-enabled focus on value in ITIL® 4 – appears to be here already.
For many professionals remote working isn’t new. I’ve been doing it intermittently for the past 10 years and have learned how to make it work.
However, making the transition to remote working can be difficult for people used to going to an office every day. So, what can they do to make it easier?
Working remotely means making more effort to stay in regular contact with colleagues. And that means adding extra elements to your conversations – it can’t be strictly business. Some examples of ways to connect is by asking about any binge-worthy TV shows (Ozark, Mandalorian and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, for example) as well as any book recommendations (Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell are possibles).
Asking others how they pass their time while at home can provide you with some new activities you could do, like going for a walk or breaking out a board game you haven’t played in a while (my wife and I recently played the game ‘Guess Who’).
In addition, something that has helped me are virtual happy hours or designated catch up time with family/friends in video chat. Even though it’s not the same as meeting in person, it does allow for some contact time that just speaking on the phone doesn’t provide. Also, every Friday, a group of colleagues get together to do either a virtual lunch or coffee to just catch up.
Set the ground rules
It’s important to establish your home office workspace, set your working hours including your lunchbreak, and get into the habit of taking breaks and going for a walk. If you don’t, the job will gladly eat up all of your time. Also make sure that the end of your working day IS the end of your working day.
Get people fully engaged
A one-to-one virtual meeting with your boss or another colleague is quite easy. But what about meetings with 100 people on a call? Having a facilitator is useful for spotting who is disengaged and getting them involved. It’s also about not letting one person dominate the conversation. Using a variety of methods to get messages across, plus follow-up emails, replaces those discussions that would normally happen at the water cooler.
Some examples might be:
- Randomly calling on participants to get their thoughts
- Encouraging questions in a chat window
- Providing a survey or poll for individuals to vote on or comment on
Companies shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of remote working for people faced with doing it for the first time.
However, we humans are adaptable and with some of the hints and tips mentioned here I think the majority of people can make working from home not just bearable but enjoyable.