How to transition your business to work to home format during the coronavirus epidemic?
How Companies are integrating to a work from home.
We know the struggle. Working from home has never been this necessary. Iron Cove Solutions have gathered and put together this wonderful article to help new companies and/or self individuals on tips and guides on how to work from home as well as how our individuals successfully took on this challenge. The goal of this blog post is to provide our readers with the first-hand experience of the Iron Cove Solutions team, which has been a remote workforce for three years.
Time Management and Organizing
When it comes to managing time while working from home, your workspace is a powerful tool. It's a physical and mental boundary that you create between work and your personal life. It is essential to create a balance between the two. One suggestion is to allow no visitors or television when working.
The ideal workspace is a designated room with doors that are relatively soundproof and removed from the rest of the house.
The Ideal Workspace - Some Helpful Suggestions
- You're workspace is not in an open traffic area
- You're workspace is not close to the front door of your house or apartment
- Create a space where you can close the door and shut everything out
- Have access to shelves that can hold any other resources or tools that you'll need to accomplish your work
Things to avoid
Don't do work in bed
A familiar habit people have working in bed. Try to avoid this as it can create problems with your sleep. To be successful at work, you need to be well-rested, and if you are not getting your standard 7 or 8 hours, this can be detrimental to your work performance.
No Couch Surfing
It may be convenient but avoid it like the plague. It will lead to poor posture, and this can lead to back problems and all sorts of other ailments. This will also cause a dangerous blur between work and personal life.
Good Habit-Forming Ideas
- Get a simple desk
- Get a comfortable chair. If you have money to invest in something that will really help you work from home. I highly suggest shelling out some dollars for chairs like this. Yes they are expensive but the money you'll save from not having to see a back doctor will be worth its weight in gold
- Windows may be a distraction. Use them at your own discretion. I sometimes draw the blinds if I have a deadline so that I'm not looking at what's happening in the world
- Buy a nice set of headphones. Some people are more productive while listening to music but it is not for everyone. Know thyself. Maybe you will be more productive listening to noise cancellation headphones? Experiment and find what works best for you.
- Set a schedule. It seems obvious, but many do not and just work whenever but they soon realize they are working all the time, and this is not good. To be successful, you really need to create a concrete wall to separate work from personal.
Avoid bad habits and start implementing new and good habits. If you do you will quickly reap the benefits. You will soon find working from home is consistent, efficient, and effective.
Staying focused is essential to positive time management. Common distractions are sound and visuals that may occur when working from home. To help you become aware of these distractions, which you may encounter every day, set up a temporary visual barrier, such as a room divider. Noises tend to also interfere with our work.
- Pet Sounds was an amazing Beach Boys album but other sounds may not be so amazing
- Children in the house
- Outside construction work
- Dogs barking outside
You can't stop the outside world from making noise. The ideal solution is to select a soundproof office. If you don't have a soundproof room, why not make one yourself?
Tools and Technology
Are some examples of common tools we use daily at our workplace. Your mindset should be to get the best possible tool that you can afford. The chair you're sitting in is another tool to consider. You don't need the top of the line desk chair; you need something comfortable, and mobile enough to allow you to move around quickly. Do what you can afford and see if your employer will provide a chair for you.
The most common issue people experience working from home is the inability to disconnect themselves mentally, emotionally and/or physically from work. Many working from home feel they don’t have any boundaries and find themselves working fewer hours instead of more hours from home.
- Establish a start and finish time
- Create a plan that works well for you
- If you are used to an 8-hour shift, create a timeline of your workday for every 30-60 minutes for any category of work that needs to be done
- It is important to categorize and break your work apart in sections
Within your schedule, it is important to take time each day to decompress from work
Great examples are
- Listening to an Audiobook
- Watching a Netflix show
- Going for a jog
Find an activity that signals to your mind and body that its time to stop work and time for your brain to calm down. The point is to have control over your schedule. Once you create those boundaries, respect them.
How Iron Cove Solutions works remotely
How Patrick Monahan's (CEO) began...
Our ability to work remotely started from day one of the business. Iron Cove Solutions was built in the cloud, and we use many micro cloud services for all aspects of our business. We have used and tested hundreds of different tools and cloud services to enhance our business over the years as well as cloud services for email. We began with Gmail and then moved to Exchange Online. For our CRM tool, we began with CapsuleCRM, we loved it ever since and have been utilizing it for over 15 years now. We tried Salesforce, Microsoft CRM (brutal to set up and move), and a small CRM which was bought by Siebel. CapsuleCRM is inexpensive, has license flexibility and great features. If you're an SMB business, we recommend this as your go-to.
Freshbooks is an excellent recurring invoicing system that we have been using for over 13 years. Our Accounting systems have not always been in the cloud, but when we moved from Quickbooks Local to Xero, an enormous amount of time was saved and gained back. Learning curves, data accuracy, and money wasted improved dramatically.
Questions and considerations to ask when hiring remote workers during the whuhan virus.
If you hire an employee and you find you are asking yourself these questions, it might be time to part ways or not hire:
Questions you ask yourself about employees which begin to get your hair on fire.
- Why can't I find you via Teams or Slack?
- Did you see that email come in from the client?
- Why were you not on that Zoom meeting?
- Why didn't you follow up with the client?
- Why don't you know how to use our tools yet?
- How come your calendar isn't up to date?
- I call you, and you are always walking the pet or at the "getting a coffee."
- Yes, we are having a meeting now. You see, this time falls under our work hours, right?
Questions to ask about hiring new employees.
- Have you ever worked remotely?
- Do you belive this the right situation for your capabilities?
- Do you care about working remotely?
- How is your internet from home?
- Do you have the necessary tools to work from home?
- What do you need to work remotely?
There is a significant level of trust between a boss and his remote employees. There is also a considerable level of responsibility which many “new to remote work” employees don’t understand. It takes the right person to be able to do this. Being self-sufficient and reading if a person is self-sufficient is challenging.
Cesar Matias (Okta Technical Consultant) story…
Working from home is a superb opportunity that offers value for both business operations and the workforce. It provides flexibility by eliminating a daily commute, reduces the cost of services, and provides us with a sense of self-motivation. However, this is not a one-size-works-for-all method of work; WFH also presents challenges, especially when it comes to time management and quality of life.
We decided to move our team to an all-remote workforce through four key factors:
- We did not have an on-premise footprint thanks to an industry shift of programs and services becoming SaaS compatible.
- Commuting to an office limited our reach and availability for different time-zones.
- Collaboration tools like Dropbox for Business and Microsoft Office 365 provided the same experience as in-office
- The rent in Los Angeles is too damn high!
Daniel Matias (Cloud Consultant and Engineer) story…
I’ve been in the IT industry for nearly one decade. In that time, I’ve had many different IT positions from Tier 1 Support up to Incident Manager; at a point, I was even a deployment engineer for Office 365. I always had to commute 2+ hours to get to work by public transit. When I decided it was time to change career paths from working with Managed Service Providers to Okta Consultant, I decided to go back to the company that gave me my start as a Tier 1 Support Technician.
When I reached out to Iron Cove Solutions for possible employment, once again, I already knew it was going to be as a remote employee. Not because I wanted to work from home. During my time away from the company, I left California and moved to Georgia. During my interview, I learned that Iron Cove Solutions had moved to a remote infrastructure. My first week back to Iron Cove Solutions was tough. There are many distractions in your home that make it very easy to forget that you are employed by an organization that is giving you a high level of trust from noisy neighbors to temping day time TV and everything in between. There’s always something to distract you.
I found it best to set aside a room and convert it to an office. Put up sound dampening pictures or decorations. Get a nice pair of earphones with a microphone and a camera. Leave pets outside of this room; it helps a lot not to become distracted when you are trying to meet a deadline. Become knowledgeable in the tools you are using to perform your work. Ensure that you know where your company has its applications stored and how you can gain access to them. Either through VPN or by downloading software. Keep your calendar up-to-date so that your coworkers can see what you are working on. Ensure your instant messaging app (Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Slack, Amazon Chime) turned on.
Lastly, this might seem contradicting, have some background noise. Being in silence is very distracting in its own way; I’ve never worked in an office that has had complete silence. There is always office chatter, phones ringing, people walking in the halls, and so on. Having background noise, such as music, podcasts, or even the news, can help keep you focused. Now I’m not saying raise the volume so that you can hear it from another room but raise it just enough so that it fades into the background, and you can focus on your task.
Phil Howley's (Cloud Consultant) story…
I had never worked from home before, so when I first jumped on board, found out we didn’t have an office and everything was remote, I thought to myself “this is great, I’m in LA and I don’t have to drive?” But I quickly found out that I needed to develop discipline, which was necessary from working remotely. There are too many distractions that made me aware of working outside of an office. A TV, A refrigerator… the list went on and on.
My first week of training at ICS was spent on the tools we use every day. The trainers quickly let us know the importance of the 5 P’s: Proper- Planning- Prevents- Poor- Performance which also reinforces the proverb “he who plans to fail, fails to plan”. The secret of overcoming my self-discipline shortcomings while working from home were planning the night before. Just spending 15 minutes each night planning out my next day. Sunday nights I would spend 15 minutes briefly outlining my week and waking up early each day at the same time. These 2 key actions helped me tremendously. The other key ingredient to a successful working remote lifestyle is using the tools provided. Specifically Zoom, Teamwork, Teams, Dropbox paper. Dropbox paper is a great way for the ICS team to work together on weekly blogs we create to share with the Okta community.
Zoom is all the rage these days and for good reason. We meet all our clients on zoom. We use a zoom plugin on Outlook to easily schedule our client technical sessions and quickly notify the ICS team and our clients on details of the session. Our ICS teams have 2 weekly SCRUM meetings where we discuss current projects, progress, and roadblocks. All our project details are shared on Teamwork from the first day to the last day of the project. All details are available in Teamwork. Clients love this transparency and it helps with billing as the client has access to all our project assets and knows all the work that was completed for the project.
Knowing Zoom also came in handy because the full-stack web development course I help teach, went from completely on-ground, to completely-online due to the coronavirus. One of the biggest perks for me is not having to drive. I save about 10 hours a week's drive time. I use this saved time to teach classes and play soccer, which helps create a balance in my life between work and non-work.
We hope that this blog post has provided our readers with help and tips on creating a workspace and keep productivity. Our team at Iron Cove Solutions are always trying to find tools and encouragements to make Working from Home as efficient as possible.
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