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Remote Working Toolkit: Tips & Tools to Productively Work from Home

With benefits such as renewing one’s passion for their job, increasing their productivity, flexibility, reducing costs, and plenty more, remote working might just be what everyone needs during this current environment and might as well be here to stay. So, perhaps you and I need to fully understand what it really is, how it is done, and how one can reap maximum advantages from it. This was why the August 2020 segment of our WhatsApp chat discussion series focused on exploring remote working.

A few months ago, when the world began to shut down, remote work became the new normal. If you aren’t familiar with this technique, it simply refers to a working style that allows one to work outside the traditional office environment, letting you work in places such as your home, a coffee shop, or a co-working space. If this still sounds peculiar to you, it might be because you belong to an organization that is still hesitant to adapt to this mode of work because of the existing misconceptions surrounding it. These include beliefs like remote workers don’t actually work, remote work is expensive, remote workers are hard to contact, etc.

Do you agree or disagree with any of the above misconceptions? Regardless, the current pandemic situation coupled with the many advantages of remote work makes it hard to ignore. In addition to this, there have been numerous innovative tools designed to support this mode of work especially in activities like project management, meetings, or even specific activities like screen sharing since the usual pulling your colleague over to your desk to take a peek at your screen can’t happen when everyone is working remotely. Such tools include Trello, Slack, Quip, Screen Hero, Meet, etc. Each of these tools is explored in the images below;

As you navigate through the above list of tools, your tool of choice might rely on factors like the cost of the use of the platform, the security the platform provides, the activity or task intended, the number of people allowed or supported, the storage capacity of the platform, the ease of use, etc. The chosen platform should always be that which gives you the maximum benefits at the least cost.

One of the leading concerns of most employers when it comes to building remote teams is that team members cannot be as collaborative without supervision and on-site management. So it is advisable to use tools that enhance real-time collaboration such as Google’s tools (like Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc) designed to allow teams to create and edit files simultaneously in real-time, Miro, Igloo and Quip.

The above tools should be sufficient to get you up and running but before getting too excited, you should know that transitioning to a fully remote working environment is not a piece of cake, especially in cases where it wasn’t originally implemented alongside the traditional on-site system. The key to building effectiveness relies on having the right leadership, the right team, and having a good communication channel between the two. It’s no secret that some will thrive working remotely while others will struggle to adapt during the transitional phase. As an employee, working remotely means balancing a couple of things and you should consider having a dedicated work station and working hours to avoid possible distractions. Tools such as Todoist, Google Tasks, and others might help you in planning better but you should also remove physical distractions from your work station.

In addition to creating and adhering to a plan, an employee should always define and document their tasks, communicate clearly, be visible at work, build personal accountability, etc. A detailed list of best practices for employees when working remotely below;

When it comes to the employer side, the key to keeping your team on track is to set clear expectations, communicate clearly, provide regular feedback, accommodate flexible schedules and maintain one on one or team check-ins. A detailed list of best practices for employers when working remotely below;

Another area of concern that every employer needs to prepare for is the security and safety of the data. It is relatively easier to monitor and maintain security measures when the entire team is in one location because in such situations physical protection measures also come into play. Unfortunately, when it comes to remote work, every organization has to implement a cloud storage system to cater for the scattered employees using mobile devices. In addition to this one needs a reliable backup system to automatically backup files to avoid data loss. Examples of cloud storage tools you can use include Google Drive, One Drive, Sync, and Dropbox among others.

We can now all agree that remote work doesn’t only benefit employees by boosting their productivity, renewing their passion for the job, saving them time and transport costs, and others, but benefits employers/organizations/companies as well. They too reap indirectly from the increased productivity and directly from things like reduced operational costs, less turnover, etc. As such, many will fantasize about working remotely but we all need to know that when the technique is adopted, it does come with numerous challenges such as data security risks, job intensity, overworking, technology hiccups, etc, that must be dealt with in order to succeed.

Written by Arthur Kakande, Communications Lead at Pollicy. Designs by Wilson Lukwago, Design Lead at Pollicy.

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