“What Is the Secret of Remote Working?”

The coronavirus pandemic is currently forcing many companies to advise employees to work from home. Here are four steps to help make this organizational crisis a success.

“What Is the Secret of Remote Working?”
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Long before the current coronavirus crisis, it was clear that home office can offer great opportunities for employees and employers. Workers can enjoy a more comfortable environment, carry out their jobs more efficiently, save time and benefit the environment by ditching the commute. And employers are increasingly aware of the advantages of letting people work from home.

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Want to boost productivity, attract talent and save the environment? Let people work from home.

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What do companies or institutions with no experience of home office need to consider now?

It is important that the work can realistically be done from home and that processes are clearly defined. In exceptional situations, therefore:

  • It is better to talk and coordinate once too often than once too little, not only by telephone, but also by video telephony. Make sure you provide the technology to share screens. Here’s some useful advice:
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  • Superiors must communicate with clarity, simplicity and openness.
  • Avoid unnecessary confusion by making sure assignments are clear and can actually be carried out in the current situation.

If the last point is not the case, the superior needs to provide support to rectify the situation. For example, Shopify has provided $1,000 to each employee who now has to work from home, so they can improve their Wi-Fi infrastructure (and the like) to ensure smooth remote working.

In our brand new Sketch Note on the topic, you will find the most important information and selected summaries from our library in five easy to follow steps:

The employee, having ensured that their tasks can indeed be completed from home, will need to adopt an organized approach. The normal advice would be to arrange child care. It’s nearly impossible to work and care for children simultaneously, especially when they’re very young, and you might end up feeling guilty about not managing to perform on both fronts at the same time. But these are exceptional circumstances. In many countries, children are currently out of school or day care due to lockdowns, which is a huge disruption for most. Even if you’re lucky enough to have the option, it’s currently advised that older grandparents shouldn’t help out. To ease the process:

  • Talk to your manager and team about realistic expectations, such as a different or reduced schedule, and agree on response times to calls and emails.
  • Have a method of contact established for urgent questions, like text or instant messaging.
  • Consider defining time blocks with your partner or co-parent, for example two-hour alternating segments, in order to focus on kids or work in turn so you can plan meetings or uninterrupted stretches accordingly.
  • Accept that disruptions will happen and be considerate when it happens to others. It’s not an easy balancing act. 

Then, ensure stable internet access and set up a quiet place to be able to work with as few distractions as possible.

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To make your employees happier, more efficient and productive, set them free.

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What should people who are now increasingly working in the home office keep in mind? For example, what “beginner’s mistakes” should be avoided?

We have a few tips to offer:

  • Distractions at home are hard to resist, but it’s illusory to believe that you can do domestic things at the same time as working. Remember, you have earned your employer’s trust and want to maintain it.
  • To make everyday work more streamlined, familiarize yourself with the technology in advance so that video conferences are easier.
  • Make sure you have all necessary numbers and contact details. Also make sure you have access to all your work documents; it’s best to store your content in the cloud so it’s readily available.
  • Finally, make sure you have some snacks ready in the kitchen!
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What is getAbstract’s experience with remote working?

Very good. A majority of our employees already work from home, either regularly or on occasion. We have several colleagues who work entirely remotely. In some cases, colleagues are more closely connected via video conferencing than in the office – even though that may seem strange to say.

We made an early call at the beginning of March to offer the possibility of increased home office. Since Monday, March 16, all getAbstract employees have been instructed to work from home and not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. We’re all in this together – so we support each other. Health comes first!

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What do the restrictions due to prevention measures mean for external learning and training?

It is extremely important that all information, including learning and business content, is quickly and reliably accessible from anywhere, and that communication technologies are tried and tested. If such efforts are made in advance, it is possible for everyone to continue to work efficiently even in exceptional situations. Digital training content for self-learning should be propagated in advance, so everyone can continue to learn effectively in such situations.

With the current shift towards remote learning and the risk of some digital infrastructures reaching their limits, getAbstract has decided to compress our content and metadata even more, freeing up more bandwidth despite increased demand.

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Self-directed learning – or learning from experience – is flexible, efficient and cheap. Set up your learning environment to support your employees and help them learn what they need to learn when they want, in as many modes as you can manage. Your goal is to leverage people’s own learning habits so that they can work well together.


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