A woman holding a white mug
Read Time, 4 min.

I guess you could call me an ‘early adopter’ of remote work. About 15 years ago, I was responsible for mobility and convergence at a large telecoms company when those concepts were in their infancy. So, I decided I’d try to practice what I’d be preaching all day, and insisted on working remotely as often as I could. I even refused to have a fixed line or fibre, and instead relied on the old Vodafone Connect cards – remember those?

 Today, we have far superior technology: excellent laptops and phones, software like Microsoft Teams, and 5G or fibre in our homes. However, what we may have failed to realize is: it’s not enough for the technology to be ready for people – people must be ready for the technology.

 For obvious reasons, the early months of 2020 have necessitated an extraordinary acceleration in flexible work arrangements – but adapting to new ways of working takes time. Understandably, it will be a difficult transition for many people.

1. Switch on your camera

Well over fifty percent of communication is non-verbal. So the camera helps you to both understand others and make yourself understood.

Also, having the camera on makes me more accountable – giving me an extra reason to stick to a routine – dressing and behaving as if I were stepping into the office.

2. Use the chat functionality on Teams

If you’re using Microsoft Teams, chat is a great way to keep the energy up in meetings with lots of participants. There may be only a handful of people actively speaking, but the others should be encouraged to comment on what’s being said, ask questions, create little polls, or even just add emojis and reactions. It really helps to keep everyone engaged.

3. Use your headset

Up until very recently when our lockdown measures eased slightly, I had two children home schooling while I worked, so wearing my headset had lots of benefits

For those with noise cancellation, even better – this will help you stay focused, and avoid distractions whoever you’re living with.

4. Schedule breaks

It’s easy to forget there are lots of natural breaks when you’re working in the office and having face-to-face meetings. Think about how to build these into your schedule at home.

5. Keep moving

Block this time in your agenda.

If you have the space, it’s also useful to move around and work in different parts of your home. Some meetings may be very formal. In which case, try to raise your laptop to the right level, consider the lighting in the room and equally, if you’re having an informal chat or a one-to-one meeting, you may want to just recline on the sofa or in a more relaxed chair. And, if you’d prefer people didn’t see your background, use blur functionality to keep your environment more private.

6. Transition between roles

You may need to fulfil several roles right now: colleague, partner, parent, home teacher. You may be able to perform all of them perfectly well. But it’s unlikely you can do so all at the same time.

Try to delineate your day so you only have to focus on a single role at once. If you can, say to your family, “I’m going to work now. See you in four hours.” Then go to another room, close the door and become unavailable.

Do the same for family time and home schooling, too. Lots of people feel they need to be ‘always on’ and overwork when they’re at home. Allocate time where you don’t take calls or check your emails.

7. Stay sociable

You may have discovered new ways to keep in touch with your friends and family during lockdown. That’s great. But don’t forget social interaction is vitally important among colleagues as well.

It just takes a bit more planning. Perhaps arrange things like daily coffee video meetings, or Friday drinks – where business talk is deliberately kept to a minimum. Perhaps arrange to eat lunch with a colleague over Teams, just as you would go to the canteen in the office.

This isn’t just important for motivation and mental health either, it’s important for business. A few years ago, a study commissioned by Microsoft found less than 20% of the best ideas were actually conceived within work settings, like meetings or brainstorms. In fact, the vast majority of those ideas arrive during casual exchanges with colleagues. Another compelling reason to safeguard that informal time.  

Finally, if there’s just one thing you take away, let it be this:

If you’re new to working from home and struggling to adjust, that’s ok! Hang in there – it’ll get easier. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro – and ready for whatever the future has in store.

Crash Course in Microsoft Teams

Take a free crash course in Microsoft Teams

Choose from hundreds of free, family learning experiences. Great for term-time or the holidays.

The Microsoft Family Learning Center offers fun educational resources for people with children ages 3 to 12.

Discover more related articles per industry:

Education

Government

  • How VR Group is using automation to secure Finland’s railways

    How VR Group is using automation to secure Finland’s railways

    “Being at the helm of a critical piece of infrastructure, we have a huge responsibility towards our partners and clients. That’s why safety and security are crucial elements of what we do and how we operate.” Mikke Maronen, CISO at Finnish railway company VR Group, is talking about the importance of protecting his business from […]

  • a large old building with many windows

    Raad van State: Creating a virtual courtroom through a remote-working solution

    “This situation has proven that with the right means, support and trust, you can remove half of the desks in your building – and in that sense, I don’t think we’ll ever see 700 people at the same time in the office again.” Ron Lamers, Project Manager at Raad van State, is talking about the […]

Healthcare

  • Nurse and patient

    MOB: increasing healthcare workers’ time with their patients using cloud technology

    “Time is the most valuable currency in healthcare. That’s what this technology gives us: more time with our patients.” Fettah Erdal, Senior Administrator at Dutch healthcare provider MOB is talking about the impact that cloud-based technology is having on his organization’s ability to deliver more patient-centred healthcare. “All of our care workers are in the […]

  • A smiling man wearing glasses looking at the camera

    HUS: sharing data securely to make life-saving decisions

    Illnesses and diseases don’t often play fair – an unfortunate truth that was proved by the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, heavily hitting healthcare organizations with challenges the world hadn’t seen in a century. Hospitals needed a rapid response to reduce spreading the virus without affecting patient care. A high-pressure situation for any institution, but […]

Manufacturing

  • Etex

    Etex uses modern tools to unite its business and better focus on customers

    When it comes to construction, all components must come together in a timely manner in order to produce the optimum product. While Etex, a Belgian building solution manufacturing company, helps make this a reality on a day-to-day basis, it wanted to find a way to enhance productivity and collaboration internally. With locations across more than […]

  • Mais on a sunny day

    COFCO International: How cloud technologies ensured business continuity during challenging times

    “I have worked at COFCO for 12 years, always in an office. But I have spent the last 63 days working from home.” Marcus Seelbach, Chief HR Officer at global agribusiness COFCO International, is talking from his home via video call about the transition he and all his colleagues have undergone since COVID-19 led to the closure of the company’s offices worldwide. “But thanks to the preparation and […]

Retail

  • HeadBrands is ready for the future with Microsoft 365 Business

    HeadBrands is ready for the future with Microsoft 365 Business

    Since its creation in 2010, HeadBrands has continued to grow, rapidly becoming the leading retailer of hairdressing products in Scandinavia. HeadBrands needed a modern IT solution to increase its business productivity and improve collaboration, both within the company and externally. Its response to this challenge was to replace most of its previous services with Microsoft […]

  • Picture from the back of a person attending a Teams meeting with 2 colleagues, discussing about a furniture fabric.

    Zuiver: Supporting both business and culture through technology

    “Since moving to the cloud, there are no limitations anymore. And I’m certain without this technology, we would not have seen the growth we have today.” Jaap Landsaat, CFO and Head of IT at Dutch furniture designer Zuiver, is talking about the profound impact technology has had on the business he co-founded more than 20 years ago. “Back then, we had 100 orders a week […]

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

Digital Transformation

Security & Privacy

  • a close up of a brick wall

    What I’ve learned about public sector digital transformation and trust.

    “Oh that must be challenging.” …is what people sometimes say when I tell them about my role in public sector digital transformation. Indeed, they then give me their impression of public services as too large and slow-moving. Well, in some ways they’re right. The public sector has a solemn duty to help citizens lead healthier, […]

Tips

  • iPhone showing Outlook Mobile emails

    Stay connected and organised at work, at home and on the go with Outlook Mobile

    Outlook Mobile was launched with a mission to deliver the best on-the-go email and calendar app.  An app combining the best possible customer experience with enterprise security – all designed uniquely for a mobile-first experience. Today, Outlook Mobile is used on more than 100 million iOS and Android devices and continues to receive high ratings. […]