As New Zealand ramps up its response to Covid-19, companies and organisations are introducing remote working to help combat the spread of the virus and safeguard business continuity.
Matt Lamb, Auckland Office Leasing Director at Colliers International, says working from home is an established concept, but it is now being embraced on an unprecedented scale.
“Some companies have introduced remote working as a trial to test preparedness, while others are working remotely on an ongoing basis.
“We’re seeing a range of approaches to how this is implemented. This includes rotating which teams or staff members work from home on a given day or week, and arranging staff into colour-coded groups, with limited interaction between groups.
“Other companies have opted to set up smaller satellite offices, allowing groups within their organisation to work away from headquarters. We are already assisting some corporate occupiers seeking such spaces urgently.”
Sam Gallaugher, Auckland Office Leasing Director at Colliers, says remote working will make some companies rethink their office leasing strategies.
“This is an opportunity for organisations to ‘right-size’ their workspace. If your business has changing office space requirements, talk to a commercial leasing specialist as early as possible.
“We’ll be able guide you through the best options available in the market right now, regardless of how small or large your business is.”
Gallaugher says the current situation is an opportunity for companies to establish good remote working practices that will prove beneficial into the future.
With that in mind, Colliers has outlined the 12 best practices for working remotely:
- Build on what you have. Review your organisation’s work-from-home (WFH) policy and ensure that it is updated and accurate. Having a policy that is easy to read and supported by leadership will provide clarity and compliance. If your company does not have a WFH policy, use these guidelines to help create one. We can help you by sharing our own best practice tips.
- Commit. As with all team-based initiatives, buy-in and commitment are of the greatest importance. Establish your team’s work protocols and agree to adhere to them and follow them. For example, use basic tech tools to show your status or availability, proactively schedule team meetings to keep work moving, share calendars and establish a timeline for critical decisions. Empower everyone to hold each other accountable. Have a leader or manager who models the right behaviours.
- Focus. It’s easy to get distracted by chores and other people when working from home. Create a routine and schedule that works for you. Establish times when you will focus only on work and breaks when you can allow home distractions. Find a room away from others that supports how you work best. Easy access to power and internet is crucial. If possible, include daylight, views, good lighting and ergonomic furniture – especially a good chair.
- Use video conferencing. Every laptop has a camera. Use it! This will help you feel more connected to your team. Encourage everyone to have cameras on during team calls. This will help you feel more connected and make meetings more productive.
- Know when to stop. Commuting to and from work establishes clear boundaries for your work schedule. Remote work has the potential to blur the lines between work and personal life. Develop team rules about the boundaries, and establish your own personal rules. You need to be guilt-free during your personal time at home. When will you not be reachable? When will you start and stop work? Align with your manager and team and stick to it.
- Personal wellness. Like always, take short breaks every hour to move, re-hydrate, step outside and get some fresh air and, if you are lucky, a little sun. Take some of the time you are saving by not commuting to do something good for your health – walk, exercise or read.
- Use technology. Vigorously use communication and document sharing software like Zoom – which our team is using – as well as Slack, Skype, Teams, Google docs, Salesforce, Chatter, Quip, Hive, DropBox, etc. Use workflow management tools to stay in sync with your co-workers. Record team calls for those who can’t make the meeting.
- Meeting etiquette. Have a purpose for each meeting and an agenda you stick to. Don’t talk over each other and make sure everyone has a place to share and be heard. Make the meeting relevant for all attendees. Help each other.
- Don’t forget the water cooler. We need social interactions to make our work-life balanced and more productive. As a team, brainstorm ways to celebrate successes, learn and connect on a personal level. Commit to speaking with someone on your team at least once a day to avoid feeling isolated.
- Reinforce accountability and norms. Keep each other accountable and communicate often. Leverage technology to keep the work visible. Keep track of the ownership of specific action items to keep people honest about meeting their obligations to the group. Remember, the number one way to build trust is to do what you said you would do.
- Stick with good management practices. Leaders still need to continually communicate goals, initiatives and ‘what matters most’. Regularly share and track how the extended team is meeting its group goals and objectives. Do not forget to celebrate successes!
- Remain fluid. This may be a new way of working with your team or customers. Continually, look for ways to make things better. Check to make sure that the rules and team norms that you established at the start, lead to the outcomes you intended. If not, adjust them.