Millions of Americans have found themselves suddenly working from home as COVID-19 has shut down nearly all non-essential businesses across the nation — and indeed, around the entire world.
If the same situation had unfolded a decade ago, companies would have stagnated, atrophied, and ultimately died due to the inability of their employees to continue working. In 2020, though, things are quite a bit different.
The Shift to Remote Work
While there are certainly many brick-and-mortar companies that have had to completely halt business in the wake of the unfolding epidemic, many companies have been able to simply shift their work onto the cloud. In fact, at this point, there are a variety of tools available that have made remote work not only a viable option but in many ways a superior one.
After all, as far back as 2018, 70% of the global workforce was already reporting that it worked from home at least once a week.
However, with coronavirus fears launching the entire world into remote-work status, it can be difficult to quickly make the shift to an off-site workspace without any hiccups.
If you’re setting yourself up to work from home for a while (or possibly permanently now that you’ve experienced the benefits of remote work), here are a few resources that you absolutely need to have in your back pocket in order to make your remote work situation as smooth and functional as possible.
Basic Office Resources
It’s important to start with the basics. After all, you may be used to having a functioning office with all of the bells and whistles at your fingertips, but once you set up to work from home it’s up to you to make sure everything keeps running.
For instance, you’ll want to make sure you have a good printer with a copier and scanner, and even extra ink ready to go. In addition, if you need to send faxes at times, remember that your smartphone can double as a mobile fax machine without much trouble.
When it comes to rudimentary remote work online apps, it’s important to be comfortable with things like Google Suite and Microsoft Office. The former, in particular, is extremely common, so make sure you’re familiar with basics like creating spreadsheets in Google Sheets, sharing Google Docs, and storing files in your Google Drive folder.
Along with documentation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the more common collaboration tools. Trello, Asana, and Podio are three very popular platforms that enable remote teams to collaborate in real-time.
On a more personal note, you also want to make sure that you have a good music app like Spotify, Pandora, or Youtube ready to go as well.
While collaboration and basic office functions are good starting points, it’s also important to make sure that you have what you need to properly communicate from your home office.
Prepare yourself to use any of a number of different communication options. Slack creates virtual workspaces for text communication and file sharing. Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom all enable coworkers to see each other and meet remotely and can often be integrated with each other and platforms like Slack.
Whatever communication tool you’re using, remember to consider everyone who is involved. If, for instance, you’re a Millennial who is very comfortable with the remote work concept, make sure to consider and empathize with a Boomer coworker who may prefer written words and phone calls over a Zoom video chat as they try to communicate.
When it comes to operating at home and only at home, it’s important to set up financial online lifelines that can keep money flowing into and out of your home office without the need to step out of your front door.
While you are likely already familiar with personal online banking, it’s important that you expand your financial tool chest if you want to have smooth, social-distancing-appropriate interactions as you work remotely.
With that in mind, make sure to set up an account on a financial cashflow application like PayPal or Venmo to help with financial exchanges. Make sure your income is also set up to directly deposit into your bank, and even consider using cryptocurrency as a stable form of remote-work-friendly currency.
Physical Resources for Your Brick-and-Mortar Office
Finally, remember the physical aspect of working from home. If you’re going to spend 6, 8 or even 10 hours a day in a single office space, it’s important to set it up for success. Make sure you have:
- Good lighting.
- A clean, orderly space.
- An ergonomically friendly chair.
- A good keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
- A fast internet connection and a good router.
In addition, make sure that your office is separate from the rest of your home if possible. This will help you maintain boundaries as you shift from work to rest within the same living quarters.
Surviving and Thriving While Working Remotely
As you’re busy transitioning your existing career onto the cloud — or even if you’re just trying to pick up a part-time online job to pay the bills until you can get back to your brick-and-mortar business — remember to take the time to set yourself up for success.
Take each item one step at a time. Everything from your online toolkit to the lumbar support on your desk chair should be considered.
In addition, try to stay relaxed and calm. You’re not alone in this time of rapid remote work change, and it takes time for everyone to adjust. However, if you carefully and thoughtfully invest in creating an efficient and productive space, you’ll be able to thrive as you transition from working onsite to the life of a successful remote worker.
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