Everyone is different and working from home doesn’t come naturally to everyone. During this challenging time, working from home is a new reality for many people. Communication, flexibility, and adaptability are key to making the transition to the virtual workplace as smooth as possible for you and your team. It is a transition that requires a lot of trial and error. No one becomes a master of the virtual workplace overnight. CanWaCH has been a virtual organization since the beginning and we are still always assessing and adapting our internal operations and processes!
We highly recommend implementing core business hours. At CanWaCH, we have set business hours from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm ET. During this time, all team members are expected to be available. You will notice that this only accounts for 5 hours out of our 7.5-hour workday. This accommodates for team members who are working in different time zones across Canada.
There are a lot of different technologies available for the virtual workplace. It is important to take some time to figure out your “must-haves” before you decide what online tools and platforms to use. Some important items to consider when deciding what technology is the best fit for your work include the data privacy legislation and regulations in your province as well as any accessibility needs within your organization. CanWaCH strives to ensure that all of our files and data are secure. Whenever possible, we use two-step verification across our working platforms.
Even though we work from home, CanWaCH has established internal structures and systems that make it easier to stay connected. We start our day by saying hello to our colleagues when first logging into our online platform. At the end of the day, we say goodnight when we are logging off. This creates confidence among team members that their colleagues are available for any questions that might arise throughout the day. Think of it as knocking on your colleague’s door to get a quick answer or saying ‘goodnight’ on your way out at the end of the day!
Communication is key. In a virtual workplace, proactive communication is even more important than in an office setting. Depending on the size of your organization, a meeting with all team members may be challenging. If company-wide meetings are not possible, encourage your leadership team to host smaller meetings on a regular basis to check in on projects, events and more.
Make time for personal updates. At CanWaCH, we often start meetings with a very brief personal update or ask people how they are feeling today. Team members have the option to pass when it is their turn to speak, but this generally creates a sense of community and an opportunity for people to connect on a more personal level.
There are a lot of different technologies available for working collaboratively in a virtual setting. Technology is not an equal playing field. Team members may have different learning styles and accessibility needs. Moving to a virtual work environment means a lot of trial and error as you figure out what works best for you and your team. When collaborating in a virtual environment, communication is key. We strongly encourage video conferencing. This helps people feel more connected.
Productivity ebbs and flows at home just like it does at the office. Go easy on yourself! It is natural for your motivation to go up and down, especially during this uniquely challenging time.
In an office environment, there are natural breaks like getting coffee, running into someone you know, and so on. In the virtual work environment, you need to be more intentional and plan short breaks throughout the day. Breaks are an important part of remaining productive as well as a good self-care practice. Go for a walk during lunch, step away from your desk or do whatever you need to do to come back to your work feeling focused and refreshed!
The home environment is very different from an office environment. There can be distractions everywhere – pets, roommates, fire alarms – you name it! The best way to avoid distractions is to set up a dedicated physical workspace in your home. It is also important to set up a dedicated virtual space for your work. You can do this by using a different computer or browser for your work activities. When you sign off for the day, you’re off! Closing your laptop is like leaving the office!
During this challenging time, it is important to be mindful of your colleagues’ personal lives. They may be juggling additional personal stresses and responsibilities at this time. Home environments are also in flux with children being out of school. Make a conscious effort to ask someone how they are doing at the start of a conversation to gauge if they have the mental capacity to talk about stressful and/or challenging topics.
Flexibility and adaptability are key to the virtual workplace. It will take time to figure out what works best for you in this new mix of personal and professional spaces. Do your best to cut your colleagues who are parents and caregivers some slack. We are all human and unexpected things happen. It is important to trust that everyone is trying their best!
If you have any further questions, please contact us at [email protected]
March 20, 2020