Working Remotely and Successfully

2 May 2022

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How to work successfully from home . . . by someone who's worked from home for 10 years

Research shows that remote work is the “Biggest change to the working environment in 50 years” and many people have rejoiced at the change.

But are you secretly longing for the time when remote work was your choice, rather than expected?

If so, is this because:

  • You have less work/life balance?
  • Feel isolated from colleagues and fellow professionals?
  • Your health is suffering?

 

Factors that can make you feel this way are:

  • An expectation to stay switched on for longer (employer or self-driven)
  • An overload of remote meetings
  • Little or no face-to-face interactions with colleagues
  • Working longer hours without the need to leave the home/office to commute Less movement throughout the day

 

For me, having worked from home for the last 10 years, remote work still has many benefits. Especially when raising two boys who are too old for holiday day care but young enough to possibly burn down the house if left at home alone!

Also, seeing my husband make the commute from the Gold Coast to Brisbane each day makes me extremely grateful for not having to spend 2-3 hours per day on a highway that quite often resembles a car park.

Here’s how I manage my own wellbeing

Productivity

So that I'm not leaving tasks that require deeper concentration until the end of the day, I block out ‘focus’ time in my calendar each day.

The tool I use for this is a feature in Microsoft Viva Insights, aptly called ‘Focus’. Look for Viva Insights (see below) in either your Microsoft 365 Dashboard or the Outlook desktop app.

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During my Focus time each day, my calendar is blocked out so colleagues will see that I’m not available for meetings, and my ‘Teams’ chat is muted automatically.

I’ve also discovered this amazing list of resources when exploring Viva Insights:

Viva Insights Individual Adoption resources | Microsoft Docs

Another great productivity tool is Microsoft’s To-Do.

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I use this app for planning my tasks each day. One feature I really love allows me to flag important emails as they pop up, rather than letting them distract me from what I’m doing. Flagged emails then appear in my ‘To-Do’ app so they can be added to my task list and attended to when it suits me.

Connection

I work 100% remotely, and in a different state to my colleagues, so face-to-face connection with people at work is non-existent.

To retain some form of connection, I like to do in-person professional learning. For example, I joined Toastmasters – a public speaking group – to improve my communication skills. And, for industry updates, I attend in-person events whenever possible.

Even though it’s not quite the same as being there, I do join in Pact IT’s lunchtime ‘Teams’ meetings to informally connect with all my colleagues. At least it’s an opportunity to talk about things other than work.

It’s important to recognise the mental health risks associated with the loss of face-to-face connection. You may be surprised to learn that it’s a SafeWork Australia requirement for employers to manage their workers’ mental health risk by . . .

“. . . ensuring workers know where to access information about mental health and other support services available.”

One of my roles at Pact IT has been to develop our SharePoint intranet. Adding website links to our Staff Hub in SharePoint was simple to do and an easy way for staff to access key external mental health resources.

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Health

One of the biggest hazards, I feel, from working at home can be sitting down for longer periods than you would in an office environment. Although this is still an issue for office workers too.

SafeWork Australia has some great suggestions for encouraging workers to stand up more during the day. I find these simple to implement and wish I had discovered them sooner.

Some of the suggestions include:

  • Stand to read a document
  • Stand or walk during meetings (with the Teams app on my phone for informal meetings with colleagues)
  • Stand while talking on the phone

 

If you are back in the office, this is another interesting program you could try:

BeUpstanding – Stand up, sit less and move more at work

Remote work will continue to exist in some way for most of us, and we’ll continue to reap its benefits. But it is important pay attention to those things that affect your wellbeing, and find solutions, tools, and resources to help you remain productive, connected, and healthy.

Reference information

Australian government Productivity Commission – Working from home research paper

Working from Home - Commission Research Paper - Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au)

Safe Work Australia

Sitting and standing | Safe Work Australia

Microsoft Analytics

MyAnalytics Individual Adoption resources | Microsoft Docs

Home | WorkSafe.qld.gov.au

To find out how Pact IT can help your employees work successfully from home, contact us.

Angela Wood, Pact IT Solutions