The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the entire world goes to work. As we all try our best to stop the spread of the virus through self-isolation and social distancing, everyone who can is now working remotely. It’s a big change. It’s also been a sudden and unplanned change. That means you might be using new and unfamiliar remote-working tools, and new methods of working, without any training or preparation. At home, you might feel like a fish out of water. The teammates you usually rely on every day are no longer just across the room. Work might be feeling lonelier than usual, and you might be finding it harder to collaborate with partners and colleagues. But remember – millions of people were already working remotely before COVID-19, and they were loving it! You can adapt to remote working too, if you take the right approach. This post is here to guide you through the skills you need and challenges you’ll face when working away from the office. Let’s get productive! 1. Bring the office to you Thank goodness for digital infrastructure and the Internet. Without them, this pandemic would be a lot harder to cope with. With online tools like Cisco Webex, remote teams can collaborate in lots of different ways. Video meetings, text chat, file sharing and even virtual whiteboards are letting teammates work together while apart during the current crisis. Your company or clients will usually influence which video communication tool you use. At GBM, we recommend Cisco Webex, and we can help your company start a free Webex Enterprise trial with additional complimentary consultation and activation services – contact us! 2. Learn new ways to work and manage people Remote working has a different set of challenges for technical workers and managers. Use these tips to adapt fast. If you’re a manager… Use tools to remotely measure productivity, like setting fine-grained project goals and milestones Use video to stay in touch with team members, who might be craving face-to-face interaction Support employees who may be worried or struggling to adapt to new ways of working If you’re part of a team… Motivating yourself is essential, because nobody else is around to tell you to start working! Stay in close contact with teammates via chat, video and phone, to make work feel more “normal” Document your progress on tasks and projects to support better collaboration Some people are predicting that remote working will become the new normal after the pandemic is over. The truth is, a crisis isn’t the right time to measure what will happen long-term. But this is a good moment to get comfortable with remote working tools that could boost productivity for some workers after things return to normal – and make you better prepared for any future crises. 3. Be alert to remote working security risks The current “crisis-driven work-from-home” has its differences from planned remote work. Workers have not been prepared, and might not have formal processes to guide them. More dangerously, security risks stemming from our ad hoc remote working methods haven’t been addressed. Under normal conditions, cyber-security teams are strict about which devices and apps can connect to the network. Under crisis-driven work from home, all that might have gone out of the window to keep work flowing. But if you’re an employee working from home, it’s natural to believe your home Wi-Fi is safe. This puts IT at risk from: Infected personal devices transferring malware to the company network Confidential assets being saved on your personal devices Personal devices storing corporate assets getting lost, stolen or compromised Home Wi-Fi, and your connected devices like digital assistants, are not as secure as corporate IT. So, when the whole workforce is saving corporate assets on personal devices attached to home Wi-Fi, the risk to those assets really skyrockets. Make sure you… Secure your home Wi-Fi Install anti-virus software on devices you use for work Use work laptops, not personal devices, wherever possible Update your devices and applications to the latest versions – updates usually include the latest security patches Use data encryption features where available Use security features of your PC/laptop, such as screen lock, if you’re working in a shared space Follow cybersecurity guidance from your employer carefully In addition to these measures you need to take personally, it is very important for your organization to have the right digital infrastructure and security tools in place, so again, GBM’s security team is here to help if you need any support. 4. Make the most of it! Finally, remember that remote working can be a positive change. Lots of people choose to work this way because it gives them more flexibility, more time with family, a quieter work environment with fewer distractions from colleagues, or even more opportunities to be creative. Start the day like you’re going to the office Get up at the same time, shower, dress for work, do what you’d usually do. Get yourself in a work frame of mind. Combat isolation Being on your own too much isn’t good for mental health or morale. Schedule daily calls with colleagues, and stay in touch throughout the day via email, video, phone and chat. Make time to do something you enjoy every day Don’t turn your home into a 24/7 office. Reward yourself for work well done by spending time with loved ones, on hobbies, or just relaxing. It will help you stay motivated. Now you’re ready to remote-work like a pro. Stay safe and well.