From XU Magazine, 
Issue 23

Making the Most of Working From Home

The team from MinuteDock take a look at software options to ease the process of working from home during the global pandemic period...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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For most businesses, the idea of remote work is something that may have been considered, but we probably never imagined having it forced on us. We thought, if we ever implemented it, we would have the time to plan it well, to iron out the kinks, to adjust our levels of workplace flexibility to suit our respective businesses. Alas, nobody could have predicted this particular future.

For many businesses, the global situation has made the choice for us. Any concerns about losses in productivity or lack of oversight have become irrelevant; either we work from home or we can’t work at all. The solution? Stop being concerned. Take the current situation as an opportunity to invest in a new way of doing things. There are so many tools available within business communities like XU Magazine and XU Hub to aid us in changing the way we work.  

Times of stress and struggle are also times of incredible innovation. The decisions we make now about how we operate in this new environment will shape our future successes. Your situation might be new, and you may feel uncertain about it, but that doesn’t need to make it a bad thing.

Now could be the best time to make a long-term investment in changing how we do things. Don’t just use short-term solutions to band-aid your current workflow issues; solve these problems by making lasting improvements to business processes that you will keep even after current problems ease off. Using the broad range of software now available to build a suite of apps for our teams to stay connected could help to mitigate the concerns raised by working from home.

We aren’t working within the same space as each other anymore – we can’t see what our colleagues are doing or have access to advice and expertise over coffee in the break room. But there are solutions available for these problems. Create a regular communicative process in your team to keep up to date with colleagues. Using apps like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you can create a space where work progress is clearly documented and regularly updated, while a clear schedule of communication will allow the team to focus on tasks without interruption. The strengths of a team dynamic can still be maintained with the right processes implemented.  

Times are stressful, making it important to be able to revitalise the mind. A mindfulness and meditation app like Headspace can allow the team to take a breather, de-stress, and refocus in order to remain on task and productive amongst the distractions of the home environment. One of the most important things we can do at the moment is remember that nothing lasts forever; this too will pass.

Perhaps it is new to some of us, but remote team organisations have been around for a while. Organisational software like Basecamp allow teams to keep up to date with each other’s work, provide feedback and guidance, and generally enable a more team focused work process for teams operating remotely from each other. Microsoft’s Teams app is another useful consideration which offers similar functionality.

Managers will have reasonable anxiety surrounding team productivity. Are your team being less productive than they were at the office? Is everyone doing their bit, or are some people slacking off? Introduce time recording to keep everyone on the team, including yourself, honest and open about what’s getting done on any given day. Web-based timekeeping solutions allow your team to keep up to date with what’s been done, to clarify expectations around productivity and to work towards meaningful goals. Consider this: a more flexible working environment doesn’t need to mean less work gets done. Allowing employees to get work done on their own schedule, where practical, can help productivity by allowing workers to make use of the least distracting hours of their day, while accurate time tracking allows you to still have some oversight over them.

One of the best aspects of all these software options is that just about every one of them offers a lengthy free trial option. Make the time to try before you buy; definitely try more than one of each app. Having a clear plan of the needs you want to fulfil and finding the right suite of apps to match those needs will yield long term benefits and increase your chances of business success during this tough economic period.

More and more of daily life is becoming digital. Inevitably, business is beginning to follow the trend. Because of the way the current global situation is forcing our hand, now might just be the best time to get ahead of the curve by putting into practice the technological applications which will likely become the standard within the near future. Consider the needs of your team and industry; perhaps you could better leverage cloud accounting to improve your accounting practice? Will using an accurate time tracking tool allow simplified billing and invoicing or payroll for your team? When the global economy begins to open up once again make sure that the changes you made in lockdown will set you up for future success.

Remember; the platitudes we’ve been spitting at you throughout this piece are common for a reason – they’re true. We are in this together. Things will start to get better. There really isn’t any point crying over spilt milk. There hasn’t been a better time to look to our business communities for the tools and knowledge we need to get through this trying period. The opportunities to make the most of it are there for those willing to look. Change is inevitable - might as well make the most of it.

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