As the country struggles with the effects of the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, many companies are sending employees home to work remotely. At AdjusterPro, our team has actually been working from home for a long time. And while we are always striving to improve the way we do business, we’ve learned quite a bit over the past 10 years about what works, what doesn’t, and how to get the best out of yourself and your team in a remote environment.
We hope our experience and advice might help some of you who’ve recently made the transition.
#1: Put on Pants
Ok, we know, we know. The ability to work in your pajamas is often seen as one of the best parts of working from home. But it doesn’t do much for your mindset or productivity. Staying relaxed and comfy in your pj’s has a tendency to keep your brain operating on cozy time as well.
One of our keys to successfully working from home is structuring your day similar to how you would if you were going to the office. And getting your day started can be tougher from home. So get up. Get dressed. Have your coffee or tea. And then ‘go to your office’ and start your day.
#2: Set Up a Dedicated Work Space
Much like putting on pants, setting up a dedicated area to work is key to focusing your mind. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, or even a separate room. But it does need to be a place with adequate space to set up your computer, phone, paperwork, etc. And it does need to be relatively distraction-free.
Your ‘home office’ should also be comfortable but not too comfortable. In other words, we don’t recommend working from your bed or your couch. Sorry.
Whether you have a separate room you can use or just the kitchen table, the priority here is having a dedicated, distraction-free space.
#3: Speaking of Distractions…
I think most AdjusterPro team members would tell you that limiting distractions is probably the hardest yet most important part of working from home. At home, there is always more to do…laundry, grocery store, lawn work, friends calling or stopping by, where did this spot on the wall come from, snack time, and the world’s most wonderful distractions, our kids.
If you have children, chances are they are also home right now. And if working remotely has taught us anything, it’s that your kids will never need you more than when you sit down for a meeting online. (Look at this drawing of my 4-legged potato barfing a rainbow right now!)
This is likely a new situation for all involved and it’s going to take some trial and error. When it comes to the current working from home/no school environment, the best we can recommend is giving your employees, your coworkers, and yourself patience and grace.
Which brings us back around to our standard distractions. There will be enough distractions you can’t control so do your best to control what you can. Don’t turn on Netflix or your favorite podcast while you work. Don’t start a cleaning project during work hours. Don’t open up your favorite websites and apps in the background.
To put it simply, don’t do at home what you wouldn’t do in the office. It might be fun for a while, but it will slowly chip away at your productivity.
#4: Create a Schedule
Create a manageable, realistic schedule and keep to it as much as you can. These are uncharted waters for many people and while it would be fantastic to have 8 – 10 hours of focused work time while you are at home, it probably isn’t realistic for a lot of folks right now. So it’s important to set a schedule that works for you and your family while still maximizing your productivity.
A big part of this, in our experience, is sticking to regular work hours as much as possible but scheduling breaks. Again, this will likely take some trial and error but you may already have a good idea of when you absolutely must be online and ‘at the office.’ So it’s important to prepare to be available during that time. Make sure your kids aren’t going to want lunch right then. Set them up with a movie saved especially for that occasion. You get the idea.
On the flip side, knowing when you can’t focus on work because of another issue, is equally important. If you can schedule a break during these times, you can get those items taken care of without work suffering or receiving inadequate attention.
It doesn’t work 100% of the time and we all understand that unexpected things always pop up, both at work and at home. But creating and trying to stick to a schedule should help you stay in control when possible, and adapt when needed.
Learning to communicate when you work from home can be surprisingly challenging. Whether you are a manager or employee, communication in a remote environment is frankly, a lot different.
While every company and manager is different and has it’s/their own preferences, we recommend always erring on the side of overcommunication. Keep track of what you’re doing and when asked about the status of a project or claim, give more information rather than less.
If your company has recently sent you home to work, chances are they have systems in place or are working on getting systems set up to help you. Being a virtual company, we use quite a few so I wanted to share some that we find the most important and helpful.
While the majority of our projects are managed from some robust software, there are times, (a lot of times) where we simply need to virtually ‘grab’ each other for a quick question. These little things are tougher in a remote environment when you can’t pop your head into one another’s offices. Chat apps are great for this purpose. We use Google Hangouts.
Helpful note: to make the most of these, you should only use them for work communication. Keep the gossip and funny memes to a minimum or people will stop checking them and the system will become ineffective.
Meeting with each other via video is vital not only for our business but for our company’s emotional health as well. Getting together face to face, talking with one another and seeing expressions, problem-solving, laughing together, brainstorming, and yes, even arguing…these don’t happen quite as often or organically when everyone is working from home. So it’s important to establish regular connections via video.
We use a host of apps depending on what we need for any given meeting. Sometimes two of us will hop on Google chat video chat if it’s an impromptu thing. We use GoTo Meetings for formal, scheduled meetings. Zoom Video Conferencing has also worked well for us if we need all hands on deck.
We use quite a few different systems to manage all the facets of AdjusterPro. Every program has it’s advantages and disadvantages and while we aren’t here to try and sell you on any of them, what we use has been a frequent question over the past few weeks so we wanted to share the information.
Regardless of what program you or your company uses, when you work remotely, the key is to USE IT. It can take some getting used to, but overall it makes working from home run much more smoothly, helps everyone stay accountable, and keeps the communication flowing.
At AdjusterPro, our priority is helping you and/or your team with insurance adjuster licensing and continuing education. But we also understand that there are big issues facing us during this uncertain time and we want to help in whatever way we can. So if you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to support you.