COVID-19 is now spreading globally. As travel restriction occurs in several countries, many companies also urge their employees to work from home. One that stands out is Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey who publicly encouraged his employees to do so in order to help reducing the spread. The phenomenon indicates the rising trend of remote working.
Having employees work away from office develop an emerging demand for remote-oriented tools that are commonly used by remote companies. These companies typically have talents that are working from different areas in different time zone, hence communication and collaboration tools are essential. However, it’s difficult for a traditional company to significantly switch to a remote-work setup. And it’s not only about the tools, but also for practical working norms and behavior.
One that is interesting is Zoom, company that provides online meeting services through video conference. Zoom’s earning report reveals how COVID-19 creates a remote-work boom, which is indicated from its rising demand. About 641 customers were paying Zoom over $100,000 in 12 months at the end of the quarter, up 86% year over year.
As per Crunchbase, a newly-founded Growrk which provides amenities for remote workers, has seen a 10 times boost in customers. On the other hand, FreeConferenceCall, one of the world’s oldest free conference service, says its US customers have seen unexpected charges or found that they’re unable to dial into or connect with the site’s conference lines, which host hundreds of millions of users in 190 countries, and roughly 30 million minutes of traffic per day. These occurrences clearly indicates that the global phenomenon is resulting serious impact in tech business.
But how about Indonesia?
As of now, there are more than 100 cases found in Indonesia since the global outbreak. Panic buying is happening though government’s prevention campaign is massively conducted across the country. Several international events that are scheduled in the coming weeks were already cancelled. But, it seems that some enterprises in Indonesia are still reluctant to urge their employees to work from home.
It can be understood as, based on International Labor Organization’s report, almost half of the enterprises in Indonesia reported they would never hire remote workers. Let alone urging their employees to work from home (WFH). Let’s face it: we are still not used to the culture of remote working and it’s hard to change the culture overnight. But, if the virus spreads massively in Indonesia, what can we do to make sure the show must go on? Here are several tips to take.
Advice for employees
#1 Avoid working from bed
Although the ultimate perk of working from home is how close we are to our bed, but believe this: never work from bed. By combining the concept of “bed” and “work”, you might start to feel like you’re always working and lose a definition of home. On the other side, our mind is already shaped with the thought that beds are for sleep.
Tip: Separate your workspace from your bed. Do this also with the view. For example, if you sleep facing the window, don’t set your workspace facing the window as well. Otherwise, the mental association between bed and work will still be there.
#2 Establish private room with stable connection
Distraction is what employers fear about remote working. To ensure yourself free of distraction, create a dedicated workspace that mentally prepares you for work mode.
Tip: Close your door to found a mental space to focus. Don’t put things that can easily distract you like phone — if you’re not obliged to make 100 phone calls a day — and snacks in a place that you can reach. Make a habit of logging in your messaging app via your laptop. Use tools like Franz which can combine chat and messaging services like Slack, WhatsApp, and Telegram into one application. Lastly, always check your connection, especially its latency.
#3 Responsive and self-discipline
Since remote-working can’t make us to walk easily to other desk and talk directly to coworkers, you need to stay responsive to chats. If you get easily distracted by chat notifications, this can be problematic.
Tip: Try to establish a routine by separating work categories into timely range. Here’s another fact: while our attention span can last up to 50 minutes, but its highest rate is only 20 minutes. So, take a break every 20–30 minutes to reply your Slack and indicate your availability using status update or calendar. This way, you’ll be reminded whenever the rest period comes and can be responsive at the same time.
#4 Work like nobodoy’s watching
Additional perk for WFH: there will be no frowning eyes watching you for every weird movement you make. Since no one see you, embrace the freedom and flexibility.
Tip: Go scream, yell, even dance whenever you’d like to express something you can’t do in the office.
Advice for employers
#1 Set the ground rules
The biggest myth of remote-workers is that they are slackers. To be truthfully honest, they might be. But if you can set the rules straight and be ready to over-communicate in details, any employer can minimize this.
Tip: Establish a communication flow and agenda around meetings with as many details as needed so everyone can follow along. For example, in a meeting, always assign a meeting lead and send MoM in an email chain which contains key talking points and decisions after a meeting ends. It’s important to note that as an employer, transparency is key. Therefore, make sure any important information is accessible for everyone.
#2 Adapt the culture
There are concerns of remote working, and one of them is lack of team bond. By working remotely, your employees can develop personal bond with others by having kitchen interactions or after-work hangouts. How can remote working provide that?
Tip: In this time of pandemic, it’s essential to use video meeting tools for any working activities, including for team-building activities. By working remotely, all team members have their “unique office” which can be shared through video. From the smallest things like sharing different office views to the silliest like introducing your loved ones, can bring togetherness in this terrible moment.
#3 Befriend with technology
Yes, the most ideal team work can be achieved through face-to-face appointment. However, there are digital alternatives to communicate protocols, brainstorm ideas, and make a decision. And during the coronavirus outbreak, several tech companies provide free remote working tools that you can try.
Tip: Know your needs. You don’t need every digital alternative for all activities. For meetings, use tool like Zoom — which already offers its special service due to the outbreak. For project management, we recommend Trello, a collaborative tool to track the progress of your project. And for documentation, it’s safe to say that G Suite is a win-win package. Google is also already aware of this pandemic and decided to allow free access to the enterprise version of Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education users.
#4 Trust your employees
Physical and non-physical supervision are two different things. Some may be more comfortable being supervised physically, but others may not. This kind of employees can’t deal with many distraction and tend to deep-work silently. However, if they behave unusually all of a sudden by flooding chats in a group, it indicates that they are anxious and feel the need to appear “working” anytime. As an employer, you need to emphasize your trust in them. This behavior likely stems from the idea that they’re not being valued at the same level as when they are working from the office.
Tip: If your employees show this behavior, encourage them to display their focus times on their digital calendar, or emphasize the feature of status update in any messaging platform to indicate their availability.
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