COVID-19: Tips for Working From Home

Co-location to COVID-Isolation: How to maximise productivity Working From Home (WFH)

Unless you have been under a rock for the past month (Which ironically might not be the worst place to be right now) you along with the rest of the world will have amassed the term Coronavirus (COVID-19) into the most favourited word in your dictionary, the most trending hashtag on social media. We are now in a world where we are afraid to cough or sneeze in social environment and so the team in Planloader last week put together a contingency plan to isolate ourselves in order to reduce the risk of our team and our clients health. It is a very tough decision to make for many businesses and very uncertain times as many SME’s will need to navigate cashflow and staff retention worries. But it doesn’t need to be all negative.

Working from Home (WFH) concepts are now being strategies and implemented all around the world, and our team at Planloader knows how challenging remote work can be.

The Planloader team has a semi-distributed team headquartered in Dublin, with more staff in UK, Netherlands, Finland as well as a remote office in Pakistan. We have recently released a company internal directive with work-from-home flexibilities for everyone. So, we have a bit of an idea of how to make it work.

We even use our own Planloader for collaborating internally when it comes to weekly work planning and task management and communication.

So, what tips do we have for remote work?

We asked our own team for their input.

1. Setting up the correct environment.

Bianca Burgio our Business Development Associate discussed how the change in environment is vital to get right from the beginning, much like construction project ensuring you have the correct infrastructure to do your job.

You need to understand your weekly work plan and align yourself with your team from the beginning of each day

When we say environment we mean both the physical environment of your workspace and the digital software and communications set up. At planloader we ordered additional accessories such as monitors and delivered them to some of our employee’s homes this week to ensure they had every opportunity of having a suitable environment to maintain efficiency. Our IT infrastructure includes the likes of Planloader for Tasks Management, instant messaging and document navigation, Microsoft Teams for online meetings and availability and Zoho & Notion for our CRM and FAQ database. Spending the first few days onboarding the team through the workflows and environment online will greatly improve your teams output.

2. Community & Communication

Louis De Courcy who heads up our technology stack and development team, believes the key to remote working is to not let the barrier of social distancing dictate the culture of the business. The goal is to maintain a strong sense of community with effective, regular and open communication.

Everyday is a process with a beginning, middle and end. If you map out each days objectives against a well strategised roadmap, maintain regular communication using the right tools, and continuously implement lessons learnt you will maintain productive delivery regardless of your location

Louis strongly advocates the use of Agile concepts including daily huddles at the beginning of each day similar to construction DABS meetings. With well defined daily activities for each team member and regular scheduled check-ins with everyone it's possible to steer clear from slipping into tempting procrastination which some may be prone to it while in isolation. Finishing off the day with a progress update and lookahead into tomorrow is always a good way to keep your team motivated.

For each team it is essential to build the best technology "tool kit" whether it's Teams for calls & conferencing, JIRA for activity tracking, Confluence for content management. Effective use of technology is a real enabler to maintaining a productive team while working remotely.

3. Stay Routinely active

Amar Pethkar & Zain Kayani who are two Full Stack Developers are extremely hard workers, but always try to find time to focus the mind and ensure they don’t burn out.

It’s easy to become desk bound and forget to get up and about, especially when you are writing backend code

When we are at home every now and again it’s good to leave the desk for 20 minutes, go for a short walk, catch some fresh air. The most important part is to inform some of the team of your plan and to try make it routine so everyone comes to expect you will be missing in action at a set time each day. In the office it’s easy to see when we are away from the desk, but when working remotely, without communicating this it can lead to frustration with other team members. At Planloader we practice this and utilise automatic prompts to identify staff being away with Microsoft teams set to a timer of in-activity on our machine.

4. Accountability and Visibility

Isha Shinde our Digital Marketing Associate discussed how having a good planning application allows not only for full accountability of each task but also allows employees to see the bigger picture and the impact of their tasks being late on others.

Using logic that was initially built for the construction industry lean workflows as part of our everyday team all hands huddle gives us very clear visibility on the impact of our tasks with other departments.

There are smart ways to bring the in-office experience to remote work and the most important factor is that your technology enables interactions without removing your tried-and-tested methods. Because Planloader gives a full live status update on all tasks across different disciplines its visual and on system allows users to immediately identify where they need to concentrate and see the impact of their potential delays on others. This type of environment can become very rewarding as the staff can always see the workload and experience more of a sense of achievement as miletones are achieved. Because Planloader collects data on timeframes and quality of works it can be used to reward repeat success stories from committed staff members.

We are a company of continuous learning, we don’t believe to know it all, far from it. No one of us is better than the combination of all of us. Therefore if you have had any experiences or good practices or workflows, however detailed, be sure to share them with us and help us to learn also. Your advice can help us to continuously learn and grow not only our team but potentially build APIS and new features to our application.

A focus on work and routine also helps avoid the stress of worrying, which is really important in the current environment

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