Seven steps to a Successful Remote Working Environment

News & Events at DigiBox

07 Sep

Seven steps to a Successful Remote Working Environment

A successful remote working environment needs to protect your employees, your data and your brand. 

In a perfect world, a home working setup should provide a professional, well lit, comfortable ergonomic environment in a separate room, away from distractions and connected to lightning fast broadband. The reality of working from home unfortunately isn’t that straightforward. With lockdown forcing so many people to work from home at short notice, couples vying for space and children needing their own home workspace few of us are lucky enough to have such idyllic home working spaces at our disposal.

Many people were dropped in at the deep end trying to create a professional remote working environment in high traffic areas in their homes, setting up in the kitchen or on the dining room table.  Whether it’s a corner of a one bedroom flat or a loft conversion with a view, there are a few key elements to consider now that the need for a quick fix of getting up and running at home has been replaced with a longer term need for a practical remote working set up.

The Health and Safety Executive guidelines for offices apply for homeworkers too; sufficient lighting, a healthy upright seating position and screens that do not reflect glare are essential for a suitable working environment.

If you are working from home, or split between time working at home and the office check out our seven steps to a successful remote working environment.

 

 

 LMP  

Invest in the Basics

In real terms that means it’s worth investing in an adjustable chair, as it’s cheaper than an osteopath and a decent LED light if you don’t already have one. Making sure your screens are far enough away from your face to avoid eye strain will help avoid headaches and look after your eyesight too. An individual height adjustable desk can provide an excellent alternative if sitting down all day is a problem or the kitchen table is taken up with school work, but the surface should be solid enough that it doesn’t cause your webcam to wobble every time you lean on the desk.

 

Professional Collaboration Space

Taking this one step further, a successful remote working office needs to be a professional collaboration space too. There are a few small steps we can do to improve the overall home environment and elevate it to present a professional presence.

Positioning a decent webcam at eye level, in a well lit space, will immediately improve your appearance on camera. Take the time to look behind your chair and remove as much clutter as possible. Spending the first five minutes of a Zoom call checking out the contents of your client’s bookshelves can be an interesting ice breaker, but busy backgrounds can be a distraction too.

 

   
     
mac prostand  

Revolutionise your workspace

A laptop stand and bluetooth keyboard can revolutionise your workspace, raising your eye level, removing the need to crouch over a screen.  The LMP range includes pro-stands for macs and cunning adapters to bring all your connectors to the front and remove the need to constantly switch cables, which is an added bonus, allowing you to focus on work rather than how many usb ports you have available. Bluetooth keyboards and mice will keep your desk clear and cable free.

Positioning a light source so your face is lit evenly, avoiding sitting with your back to windows to ensure you don’t appear as a silhouette, will also help.

For those on camera for a large amount of time every day or presenting on webinars its worth investing in a good quality lens – the difference in sharpness and clarity of a BirdDog P100 camera versus a built in pc camera is tangible.  Equally, a separate directional microphone that enables clear audio will make the world of difference to your audience.

Making sure that the rest of the household is aware of when you will be on an important video call and rationing the broadband accordingly is also essential. Pixelated or frozen visuals with crackling audio because the children are streaming Netflix or playing video games will mean your audience lose interest quickly.

Minimise distractions

Small housekeeping measures will also help with successful remote collaboration; use do not disturb to turn off your computer notifications, both audio pings and on screen email previews, and quit applications you don’t need. It goes without saying that unless it’s a meeting about social media, switching off social media apps and resisting the temptation to check them, or your phone, during video calls is essential.

Where possible, if you can, leave your webcam on in meetings that would have been face to face. Humans need human contact, however detached it may seem over a webcam. With many people in isolation or living alone working from home you may be the only person your colleague sees that day. People do business with people and the power of eye contact should not be underestimated.

 

   
   

 

Switch off  

As we settle into remote working, the reality of needing to delineate between time at home working, and time at home not working, has become another challenge. The need to protect home worker’s mental health and ability to properly switch off our 24/7 connected lives is an essential aspect of corporate responsibility. The HSE’s guidelines on fatigue specify that long working hours or poorly managed shifts that do not balance the demands of work with time for rest and recovery can result in fatigue, accidents, injuries and ill health. Remote working is no different.

It’s more important than ever to set a schedule for time on and time off work, so wherever the home working set up is, it needs to have an out of office mode.  It could be as simple as closing a door on the spare room or shutting down the work laptop and putting it in a crate for the weekend; but home time needs to be taken seriously and respected by all concerned.

 

Ask employees if they need help

From an employers perspective it’s important to educate remote teams in the importance of basic workstation ergonomics and support workers with the tools they need to work safely from home.  Relying on individuals to curate their own ergonomically sound home workspaces will inevitably provide a haphazard success rate. Many companies are taking a global view of this and rolling out laptop stands and Bluetooth keyboards to all remote staff to make sure their whole workforce is working in a suitable ergonomic environment – don't presume your staff have the tools they need to work safely from home, a email quick survey asking staff about their working environment could save many lost hours due to back problems in the future.

From an IT perspective setting up a remote workstation for those who are not generally technically minded can be daunting and where possible additional help should be made available via remote login tools or training to help employees adjust to new circumstances. 

 
 

Keep your company data safe 

Secure transmission of company data over public internet is also big challenge. Many organisations have been turning KVM technology to that allows workstations to be securely controlled remotely from anywhere in the world, such as the Adder iPEPs (iP Engine Per Server) to overcome this. 

Supporting large remote workforces remotely over an extended period of time must address the need to manage secure, on going, company wide communication, alongside smaller Teams, Zoom or VC collaboration.  Remote working is here to stay and employees need information, motivation and reassurance, securely distributed on a scale never seen before in order to overcome the challenges of this situation.

Going forward, as the quick fix response to getting teams connected on video is overtaken by more permanent ways of home working, it is inevitable that the image remote employees present online will begin to impact company reputations - Would you trust the IT systems of a financial consultant who has an unstable internet connection on your Zoom calls?

For more information on improving your remote working environment with the help of LMP, BirdDog or Adder contact the DigiBox team for an online demonstration.