Everyone is learning to adjust to a new way of life amid the current COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Australians have made the switch to working from home, and while some businesses have been given the green light to reopen, no one knows what the future may hold. There’s always a chance we will need to revert back to our home offices, and we all need to be prepared for whatever may happen, even in a post COVID-19 world.

Working remotely does come with its challenges. While some personalities find the environment provides a productivity boost, others find it a struggle to remain focussed and motivated. Without a proper office space or clear work hours, it’s very easy to become distracted.

At BirdBrain, our team has made a fairly seamless transition to working from home. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at making a gradual return to the office, but we now know with certainty that we can easily continue to operate no matter where our team members are located.

We want to pass on our learnings and support other businesses that may need to continue working remotely now or in the future. We’ve put together a list of our favourite resources and tools that have enabled us to maintain business as usual.

Communication & Connections

Staying connected during this time is more important than ever. At BirdBrain, we use a number of communication tools to ensure our team feels united.

Zoom Video Meetings

Video conferencing tool Zoom has become one of the most popular apps for businesses to use while living and working in isolation. It’s easy to use and a great way to hold both team and client meetings in a virtual space.

Zoom has fast become part of our everyday work life and has provided an effective platform for us to conduct our daily morning huddles. Before COVID-19, we used regular huddles to support communication, build comradery and connect as a team. While being unable to see each other face to face, Zoom huddles have been instrumental in bringing our team together in isolation.

The format of a Zoom huddle can be adapted to what works for your business. We’ve been using the following questions to structure our huddles, giving each team member the opportunity to speak to the group while working from home –

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are you currently working on?
  • What is your capacity out of 10?

Slack Messaging

If your business isn’t using Slack, you should definitely consider getting on board. The messaging app is ideal for businesses of all shapes and sizes, allowing team members to strike up private conversations, group chats, project-based discussions and more. It also has the functionality for a companywide channel for important news and updates. From asking quick questions to having casual conversations, Slack offers a flexible alternative to traditional email communication.

Team Bonding

It can be difficult to bond as team when you’re not working in the same office each day. Social distancing can lead to loneliness and low morale, making it vital to undertake team bonding activities that don’t require face to face interactions.

Virtual Quizzes

One of our favourite team bonding exercises has been lunchtime quizzes. Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a trivia quiz! Get one staff member a week to organise a quiz filled with questions about your team, general knowledge, pop culture and more. By using Zoom, all of your team members will be able to participate.

Care Packages

During stressful and uncertain times, your staff need to feel that they are valued and appreciated. Sending care packages is a lovely gesture that can show how much you care. With the right selection of goodies, a care package can provide comfort, lift spirits and make it just a little bit easier to cope with isolated living. We filled our care packages with mini chocolates and lollies, pens and notepads, and also added a personalised, hand-written card from our director David Metcalf.

File Sharing

Even when you’re working in an office, you need to have an efficient, reliable and secure system that allows for the management of files and documents. With certain internal servers and system networks, it might be difficult to move to a working from home arrangement. To always have a fail-safe in place, your business should investigate adaptable solutions that can be accessed from anywhere.

OneDrive

A practical tool to help you transition to the home office life is Microsoft OneDrive. At BirdBrain, we use OneDrive to ensure all our files are easily accessible from home. It’s simple to use and enables multiple people to work on multiple files at once. As all documents and files are available to all team members, there’s no need to worry if someone falls ill or is unreachable for any reason. With a cloud storage solution like OneDrive, your team will also be able to go paperless, which is also good for the environment.

Google Docs

Google Docs is another cloud based, collaborative tool that allows you to share a document with colleagues without needing to be in the same room.It works in a similar way to Microsoft Office, enable you to share files via a link and work together on one document.

Monday

When there are multiple projects that involve numerous team members with various responsibilities, it can be tricky to stay on top of everything and remain organised, especially when working remotely.

We have been utilising our project management tools more than ever since working from home.  Our go to is Monday.com. We use the Monday board system to plan our days and workflow, oversee projects and communicate internally. It has become the main hub that we use each day, allowing us to assign project leaders to jobs and assign individuals to specific tasks.

Safety

Kitchen bench tops and dining room tables have become the new office set up for many who are working from home. While it comes with added convenience and comfort, working from home can also lead to muscular issues and eye strain without ergonomic desks and chairs. After slouching over a laptop all day in poor lighting, staff could be left with aching necks, eye strain and more.

Investing in ergonomic office furniture for your employee’s home offices is a must. Prior to the BirdBrain team working from home, we sent out a questionnaire to the team to ensure that staff were working in a safe environment with no hazards. We have also given our team members the opportunity to borrow equipment from the office, including spare monitors and chairs, to improve the set-up of their home office.

Want To Know More?

If you’d like to discover more working from home solutions to support your business and its team, check out Safe Work Australia’s general information and guidelines here.