Opinion

Home working: Getting used to the new normal

12 April 2020

‘Whatever the technology solution you choose, it’s important that you specify and stick to specific start and finish times and enforce digital boundaries when you are not working.’ Jayne Cox, Fusion Spaces

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the way we usually work has been altered. Virtual meetings and remote team collaboration are now becoming the norm. It’s no longer a conversation about whether to work remotely – for most of us it’s now a conversation about how, writes Jayne Cox.

The problem is, with whole families now isolating together, kids out of school and pets looking for attention too, employees may find themselves working in an environment that was not originally designed for the task.

It’s naturally stressful to have huge change thrust upon us, with little time for strategic planning. This is a global situation and we are all learning how to take our daily face-to-face communication online. As we all enter this new learning phase it’s useful to remember that we learn by our mistakes and we solve problems when we experience them. It’s okay to acknowledge that things will not always run smoothly.

But we’ve had the technological capabilities to work remotely for quite some time and now is the opportunity to embrace it as we settle into the new reality for the weeks and months ahead.

Of course, there are some technical considerations that need to be addressed. First and foremost, you need a decent broadband connection. Wi-fi speed is going to vary in the home environment and we also need to factor in the significant increase in local demand. 

A laptop is also a must, so that flexible and remote working is made simple and doesn’t add to an already highly charged and stressful time. With bedrooms becoming home offices for some employees, it’s good to be able to unplug the tech and remove it from the space to allow for complete rest and relaxation at bedtime too.

But assuming you can rely on that, there are then a plethora of video conferencing platforms offering free plans, plus collaboration software solutions which are designed for different parts of the construction supply chain.

For online meetings, Microsoft Teams and Zoom are both popular choices. But while they are great for chats, if you are looking for something that offers the assurance of a professional platform, guaranteed to keep data within your control and processed according to robust data protection regulations, StarLeaf’s range of solutions is also one to consider.

A useful tip is to try turning the video off as this can improve broadband speed, but it still allows information to be shared through the screen. Also remember that there is a mute and unmute option if there are distracting household sounds in the background.

Keep in mind that video conferencing may be affected at peak times, which could now be all day for some. Turning to traditional telephone conferencing might be the best option in those situations – check out providers like WHYPAY? for setting up free group calls.

Whatever the technology solution though, it’s important that you specify and stick to specific start and finish times and enforce digital boundaries when you are not working. As any regular home worker will tell you, it’s too easy to lose the healthy separation and compartmentation of home and work.

Our hope at Fusion Spaces is that, in these challenging times, our learning about how we can use technology to work and connect on a human level will accelerate faster than ever. We may be commuting less in the future and enjoying a more free-range working lifestyle.

Jayne Cox is a life coach and stress management consultant and co-founder of Fusion Spaces

www.fusion-spaces.com