Part 2 – Working with the Technological Practicalities of Working from Home
This series of three articles is designed to help you get the best from your home working situation. I am investigating the logistical, technological, and psychological practicalities of remote working. There are various easy changes that will help maintain your motivation, build resilience, and improve personal, team and organisational performance.
Last time we discussed the practical issues and this time I am looking at technological considerations. While technology offers many opportunities, benefits, and advantages, it comes with its own downside. So what can we do to build resilience and make a positive difference to our remote working lives?
1. Manage issues with equipment
Working with older equipment that is slow, unreliable, or unable to run certain apps and programmes is stressful. Having the requisite equipment is key. Equipment that was fit for purpose for occasional remote working may no longer be adequate.
It may be time to make an investment in yourself and your technology. A new laptop or second screen could increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels.
You may need to check your employer is providing you with the optimum technology for what they require from you. If you have an IT department get them to test and optimise your equipment.
If things are not ideal and cannot be improved you should inform your employer or clients. They will need to be aware of any limitations on your ability to deliver on expectations.
Would a better chair or desk prevent back pain? Would you benefit from a wireless, noise cancelling or more comfortable headset? Do you need an ergonomic, wireless mouse? Although these may seem like small matters they can make all the difference.
This is not just an investment in equipment. You should assign a proper value to your technological requirements and your physiological comfort when using it. Otherwise your goals, focus and performance may suffer.
2. Deal with connection issues
No matter how good your technology is, without a stable internet connection you cannot work effectively all the time.
Your provider should have guaranteed deliverable speeds. Therefore if these are not being met they should resolve the issue or release you from your contract: check your internet speed at speedtest.net. Don’t forget your smartphone’s hotspot feature can be used in an emergency. Just make sure you have the right data package to avoid unwanted and excessive charges.
3. Stay in touch with others
Whether you are your own boss or part of a large organisation, it is important to stay in touch. If company communication is sparse or virtually non-existent, start and maintain a dialogue with colleagues and management.
It is easy to feel marginalised or undervalued when you are not seeing people regularly and in person. It is easy to feel you no longer have a grip on what is going on. Maintaining company culture and relationships can be difficult when everyone is working remotely.
So make a point of checking in with colleagues and clients on a regular basis. And use your video facility for meetings when possible for a more connected experience.
4. Make technology work for you
There are numerous technological resources that can be used to your advantage to increase your productivity. Technology used properly should be enhancing your work life, not making it harder.
Make sure you know how to use any company collaboration technology properly. Insist on getting proper training on anything new you are using because you are working remotely.
Take advantage of group chat and messaging technology, whether it’s in-house or an app like WhatsApp. It is often possible to get a quicker answer to a simple question via a group chat than an email.
5. Use all available resources
Take time out to listen to podcasts and TED talks. Read blog posts and reports by peers and industry specialists. If you are missing leads or snippets of information from people in the office, these can help keep you up to date. In turn you will feel more connected to your industry and ahead of the curve.
6. Encourage a sense of community with colleagues and socialise with them
Working life is not just about working. An office environment provides a social support network as well.You can use technology to build and maintain personal connections with your colleagues as you would by seeing them in person.
If your days involve little human interaction why not start a video lunch club or have virtual drinks one evening? You can do this with your team or other colleagues you enjoy spending time with. For those who spend all day on video calls and are all talked out, how about online company yoga or HIIT sessions?
A common experience makes people feel less isolated and more part of a team.
If technology at home is causing you to achieve less than before, change what you can and accept what you can’t. Acceptance may be hard for leaders and over-achievers. However, it is necessary to avoid constant feelings of frustration and resentment towards ourselves and others. A key requirement for technology is trying to maintain a sense of humour!
Recognise it’s a difficult time for everyone. No matter how well optimised your technology is, you will have good and bad technology days. And there will be days when clients and colleagues have issues too and certain things just cannot get done.
What issues have you had with remote working and technology? How did you resolve them, and what strategies have you used to cope? Do you see yourself making any changes now?
In part 3 of this series I will be giving you my guide on the psychological practicalities of working from home. Many issues can be avoided or helped by firstly addressing physical and technological problems. As we all need to safeguard our mental health we can do that by being both proactive and reactive.
So take your remote working conditions seriously and stay productive, focused and optimise your outcomes.
At Feel Good Leadership, we work with high performing executive leaders, managers and teams to become more authentic, inclusive and nurture better relationships enabling collaborative and thriving workplaces.
About the Author
Jenny Rossiter is an international executive coach and facilitator with a passion for weaving together the real human experience with practical science-based techniques to build authentic & inclusive leadership, emotional resilience and mental strength. Jenny has spent a lifetime studying human behaviour and more recently leading-edge neuroscience. She takes her clients through a journey of accompanied exploration in order to discover who they are and who they might become, as leaders, as teams and as human beings.
Please contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org