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How to stay connected when working from home

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It’s possible you’ve never appreciated your co-workers more than you do now, now that you’re not seeing them in the flesh every day!

Working in the traditional environments we’re used to we sometimes take advantage of spontaneous interactions. Even setting a meeting has become a different task altogether, but not to worry. We’ve put together the following tips to ensure you still feel connected to your co-workers, your management and your company during these times while keeping a sense of work normality.

Connect Digitally

Work with your IT department or personnel to connect to your company’s VPN, giving you access to relevant work files from home. Company-provided laptops and VPN should have their own security systems enabled, but you should take additional precautions yourself when working remotely.

When using websites, check to the left of the URL bar for a padlock symbol – a visible padlock assures that the website is secure (this provides extra peace of mind if you happen to be entering bank or credit card details online). Update your logins and passwords, turn on login alerts (so you’re notified if someone tries accessing your accounts) and as always, watch out for scams (like emails from unfamiliar addresses mentioning COVID-19).

Websites such as Trello, Dropbox and Google Docs/Sheets can also be helpful with sharing work files among teams where VPN isn’t applicable.

Embrace Video Meetings

Face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past, so all meetings between two or more people should be held via video. Google Hangouts and Zoom are reliable and easy to use, but smaller teams can also get away with Facebook Messenger's video call feature.

There is also no reason you can’t keep up your meetings with clients when you can use these platforms to share your screen and present to them what you would have in person anyway. Video meetings should be scheduled, preceded by an emailed agenda and followed up with emailed notes.

So yes, default to video meetings to communicate and collaborate, however, use a phone call to resolve issues that require immediacy and/or input from only a small number of people. Update your co-workers on what you’re working on with regular emails (the website Trello can be great for this sort of real-time interaction too).

Since it’s more important than ever to ask questions to gain clarity and context for your work, you should discuss early on with your teams the best way to use different platforms for communicating, e.g. group chat for occasional casual conversation, email for project updates and video meetings for brainstorming and asking questions. What works for some teams won’t always work for others, so be flexible and encourage people to engage and communicate with respect.

Keep the Small Talk

Have you ever looked at your co-workers and thought they’d be quite fun to drink with if you didn’t already spend 8+ hours with them each day? Now’s the perfect time to socialise with them, albeit in isolation!

Suggest to your teams a Friday afternoon video call over a beverage from your couch or back deck. If you miss the traditional work lunchroom chatter, arrange a virtual lunch. 

You can even embrace challenges and themes for team video calls to keep interest and attendance levels high. A ‘Bring your Pet’ call will be sure to please, and a ‘Fancy Dress From The Waist Up’ theme will have you laughing as much as we were when we tried it!

Keep things casual with work discussions at a minimum, and remember to continue asking your colleagues about the normal stuff in their lives such as kids, hobbies and fave shows to watch. Now’s the time to build some real connections.