Month: April 2020

Making Changes With Remote Working

Back in 2014, I started working remotely when living in Italy. There wasn’t an office, and I had no colleagues nearby. This was a first for me, but I had managed to do it for many years.

Since then, I’ve tried many approaches. Some worked. Some were a disaster. I had even returned to an office environment two years ago when I joined PLH Medical, however, I have found myself working remotely again!

With the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies are requiring employees to work from home. It can be hard if you’ve never done it or haven’t done it regularly.

This post is about my experience. Yours will undoubtedly be different. After all, you must figure out your own rules when working from home. Since the UK lockdown, I have recently reconfigured the space in which I call my office. This is also due to my significant other now working from home which has presented different challenges such as, workspace, taking calls and such! However, it does come with its added benefits such as unlimited brew supplies and also another human being’s company.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to work alongside someone else during remote working, which is why you should be transparent with your friends, your team, and your manager about what you’re doing so you can find the best way to be productive.

Define Your Divide
Being a productive worker when being remote requires discipline, especially if you’re trying to demonstrate that you’re trustworthy and that working from home isn’t something for emergencies only. I have a dedicated working space. I have tried the couch and the dining room table, but those never worked for me. I eventually would get distracted. When you find that place, record a few minutes of audio and listen to it. You’d be surprised how much people on your conference calls can hear. I was surprised to learn that some microphones are designed to highlight background noises such as children crying or dogs barking!

I start every day the same way, which helps me transition to “work mode.” When my headphones are on, I’m working. And I wear them, even if I’m not listening to anything. I also use my laptop computer as an on/off switch. I turn it on while I’m preparing my first cup of tea in the morning, and it stays on for the rest of the day. Turning it off? That’s a signal my day is done.

Engage Your Family
Discussions surrounding working from home often focus on an employee’s relationship with their employer. But what about the family? If you’re new to working from home, understand that it doesn’t just mean change for you. It also means change for those who share the home with you. Thankfully it is just me, my significant other, an unhelpful cat and a house rabbit. However, some individuals may be working from home with small children. Find the right balance between work and home. Set work hours that you can follow, and make sure your family knows what they are. Create physical signals to let them know that you are working (these could be headphones on or a closed office door).

Working from home can be a big change if you’ve never done it before. But if you’re thoughtful about your approach, you can be productive, happy, and successful.

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Gemma Wilson
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Mental Health and Home Working

Our working lives have recently seen changes for a large number of us across the nation – but the emergence of COVID-19 has since led to an enormous change, more uncertainty, and new challenges for many of us. These challenges may include keeping focused when working at home or more importantly the change in our mental health during a nationwide lock down.

Keep casual and formal work moving

Structured and unstructured connections with work and colleagues must carry on whilst people are working remotely or flexibly. At PLH Medical, we regularly use video calls for all formal and non-formal discussions. This can include work-related projects or simply checking in on everybody’s well-being.
Mental health consider the entire team

We all have mental health and whatever our circumstance, this outbreak will undoubtedly have some form of impact on how we think and feel. I have discovered that having a good team bond has helped me personally and has kept my mental health in check. I find it can help simply by sending a simple ‘vibe check’ to colleagues, even if it’s a small text message or positive gif image; something to brighten their day!

Calling a colleague to discuss a project or pass information may be the only form of human interaction that you may have during these times. This is why I believe it’s important to encourage informal conversations. You may have an instant messenger or such as Microsoft Teams like us – but text messages and calls also work well. Daily check-in’s with my colleagues has always presented itself as a good idea.
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Gemma Wilson
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Staying Connected When Working Remotely

Working remotely for the past three weeks has shown several challenges, benefits and disadvantages; all of which I will be highlighting throughout my future blog posts.

I’m very fortunate to work with a group of people who feel like a second family to me, but I can imagine the distance can make it harder for some team members to feel like an actual team. In this post I have put together a few tips that I feel have helped me through these three weeks.

Have regular live meetings

If you’re interacting with your colleagues by phone, you can’t see their faces or read their body language. This is why I try to make an effort to complement traditional emails and the use of Microsoft Teams messaging with regular video calls so I can see my colleagues! It’s also nice to say hello properly.

Allow moments for people to connect as people

When working from home you will discover that you no longer have natural opportunities to bond over lunch or after work, which means we need to be creative and create ways for members to inspire, connect and motivate each other. Last Friday at the end of the day we had some team fun on Zoom which involved a scavenger hunt for things around our homes. Sadly, I didn’t win! But it did promote exercise and provided plenty of laughs. Moments like these can make all the difference and can help increase productivity and general well-being.

Feel connected

The next communication challenge when working remotely is staying connected. How can you make sure people connected and feel like they are part of a team when working remotely? I believe the key to solving this issue is to replicate the best parts of office life, but online instead.

Office-life examples:

  • it’s easy to grab lunch with a colleague and learn more about them
  • it’s easy to discover what people do outside of work (hobbies, etc)
  • you discover how people prefer to work when in the office

The reality is that these events listed above help people feel connected. The good news is that you can replicate many of these activities online, you just need to be intentional about it.

Remote team examples:

  • Use an app like Microsoft Teams to create a ‘lunch room’ amongst your other rooms which would allow staff members to clearly show that they are on a break and are open for casual conversation.
  • Run fun projects at the end of the day such as AMAs “ask me anything” sessions.
  • Have employees complete a document/wiki that shares a bit more about them and what they like to do outside of work. Share these with the rest of the team.
  • Have employees take a personality test and share the results with the rest of the team.

When working remotely, I feel it’s important to spend time on team-building activities where people can get to know each other. This is the most opportune time to develop stronger bonds and keep moral up.

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Gemma Wilson
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