• Rui M. Teixeira

Tips for efficient remote office work

Updated: Sep 29

The transition to the world post COVID-19 is more delicate than expected.


Before the summer and after several months fighting the disease, many countries flatten the curve of new cases.


However, for now a few weeks the curve of infections is on the high again and what companies anticipated to be extraordinary and temporary measures could stay on the long run.


Companies need to adapt to the “new normality” and implement new “Remote work” processes which are made for the long term.


Becase some of the behaviours below tend to create suspicion or frustration amongst teams and the people you work with:

  • Slow responses to e-mails and phone calls.

  • Connection issues when logging to conference calls.

  • Background noises (or background images…) and lack of attention.


I have been working remotely or doing “home office” for more than 20 years and I am happy to share hereafter my personal procedure and tips.


Preparation, be “Remote” ready

  • Make sure that you have an up-to-date contact list for your internal and external customers saved on a sharepoint.

  • Plan a printed back-up of the contact list.

  • Set-up a shared calendar with your colleagues and team.

  • If a change occurs, specially of late notice, do not assume everybody checks the calendar and an informational e-mail/phone call is helpful.

  • Update your e-mail signature with your contact details.

  • Make sure you have all the necessary software correctly installed and up-to-date on your laptop; instant messaging, conference tools, VPN (following your company IT procedures).

  • Be aware of time-zone differences and business hours when setting meetings.

Preparation to on-line meetings

  • It is usually a default but update the location field in the meeting invitations with the link for the conference and dial in numbers (useful to add a link).

  • Connect earlier than usual to your meeting and :

  • Test your Wi-Fi connection.

  • Plan a back-up solution such as a hotspot. Most modern phones (if not all) have this function. Turn it on since the beginning so in case of connection failure with your home Wi-Fi it switches automatically.

  • For important meetings which I present, I ask a colleague to connect early and make sure all parameters work nicely: test of voice, sound and presentation sharing (including transition effects).

  • Save your presentation materials on your personal local space which is synced with your company server.

  • Save and close all sensitive or unnecessary documents and programs.

  • If you are visible on webcam dress accordingly and control that your background is professional. If you turned on the beach background on Zoom to impress friends, make sure it’s turned off when you connect to a formal meeting.

  • If your computer and phone run on battery, make sure they have enough power and plan an external battery if you are not close to a power source. Keep in mind that presenting tools are demanding in memory which increase energy consumption.

  • Take minutes and distribute them after the meeting and make sure people acknowledge them.

  • If you are on back to back meetings, schedule sufficient time between meetings.

E-mails

  • Acknowledge receipt of e-mails ASAP and inform of a resolution time.

  • Be proactive and concise in your e-mails.

  • If it requires details, list them in a comprehensive bullet point list.

  • Identify accountable people and involve them in the discussion.

  • Avoid back-and-forth e-mails with too many people and organize a meeting instead.

Phone communication

  • Request from your colleagues/customers a preferred number where to reach them.

  • Unless you have consent, do not assume it is OK to call or share a colleague/customer cell number. Use the contact number indicated on the e-mail signature or request one.

  • Manage background noises: you may not respond to your phone if you are in a noisy place.

  • Set up the voice mail inbox and call back as quickly as possible when in a calm place.

  • If necessary inform the person by text on when you will return the call.

Team work

  • If you are a manager, set up expectations for remote working and daily targets.

  • Make sure there is an appropriate delegation of authority if approvals are required.

  • Be empathic as not every people is “IT” ready at home (second screen, desk, etc.) and some external elements (pets, children) could lead to some distraction.

Last but not least, working remotely could make you feel like traveling to Mars and you may lose motivation and purpose. It is important that you connect with your colleagues on a lighter mode and provide encouragements.


I hope the above tips will inspire you when drafting your new procedures and do not hesitate to contact us for more information.


Article from the same series:

Work from home, employers obligations in the EU big 6 and Switzerland


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