PHASTAR: embracing remote working

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have taken steps to enable all of their employees to work from home. In addition to any existing home working procedures, further investments in to infrastructure and server capabilities should be considered, to ensure uninterrupted, effective home working for all employees, be that in a small company or a worldwide business such as PHASTAR’s. For example, PHASTAR’s IT department has provided additional support to staff through many avenues including VPN access, client system access and hardware in order to ensure that all staff can all provide the same level of support to our clients and their needs.

Whilst some employees may have been working from home for many years, it ought to be recognised that this will be a new experience for many others. From PHASTAR’s perspective, we are proud of the way that our team has risen to the challenge and continue to support clients without any interruptions to service or delivery – even recently completing a project ahead of schedule!

Some of PHASTAR’s most experienced home workers, from both the technical team and the operations team, share their insights in to how to approach, embrace and overcome the challenges of remote working.

  • Choose a work space that’s right for you – find a room that’s free of distractions, has natural light if possible, and a space where you can properly position your laptop to ensure you have good physical posture. As tempting as it is to sometimes work from the sofa, you will soon find yourself suffering from back, shoulder or neck ache - believe me, I tried it! Embrace the benefits of working in your home environment – work in front of a window that gives you a nice view, or listen to music if it helps you to focus. Remember to choose an appropriate work space when participating in video calls – keep it professional!
  • Structure your day – working from home doesn’t mean that you have to work longer than your contracted hours to demonstrate that you are working. Structure your day as you would in the office, working productively within your core hours and work commitments. Without a daily commute, you can make the most of the flexibility you have at the start and end of each day. This is particularly useful when working across time zones, as you can manage work/life commitments more easily without having a commute inbetween.
  • Take breaks – remember to stand periodically and maximise your lunch break. You’re no longer stuck in an office, so make the most of the work/life balance it provides!
  • Keep in regular contact with your manager and your team – it’s really important when all staff are at home to keep a closer contact in order to ensure everyone is clear about who’s doing what and which tasks to prioritise. It can be harder for team leads to monitor progress, so being proactive with communication and being available for communication is key.
  • Keep in touch with colleagues - don’t make every message about work! One thing you’ll miss about the office environment is the banter. You’ll be used to chatting with colleagues about lots of things that aren’t work related, so make sure you continue to have these chats. PHASTAR has fully embraced the virtual world to hold regular online catch ups, coffee breaks, bingo, quizzes and competitions so that all of our colleagues can keep in touch and maintain the company’s fun and sociable culture.
  • Use the OOO function when not working – it’s very tempting when working from home to keep your laptop on and respond to emails and messages during the evening. Remember to switch off your laptop when you finish work for the day. If you’re not working for a period of time, make sure you put your OOO on so that you’re not constantly checking and responding to emails when you’re not scheduled to work.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support – remote working can prove challenging at times. If you’re stuggling with any aspects of home working and need support, reach out to your line manager – they will want to help you. At PHASTAR, we have a mentor network in place, so all employees know who they can contact for support – make sure you know who your support network is.

There are numerous benefits to remote working for both the employee and employer.

Benefits to YOU:

  • You develop the following skills - self-motivation, self-discipline, time management, communication.
  • You become more independent, autonomous and self-confident - without the comfort of automatically asking a colleague sitting next to you for the answer, home working encourages you to research and find solutions yourself before reaching out to colleagues for advice.
  • You become more productive – you’re able to manage your time more effectively, without the drawn-out meetings or distractions that occur within office environments.
  • You feel less fatigued – without the daily commute, you’ll feel more refreshed!
  • You save money – no commuting costs, no expensive lunches and no drinks from the coffee shop!
  • You have increased flexibility – you’re better able to manage your work/life balance.

Benefits to the EMPLOYER:

  • Self-disciplined, self-motivated, confident, flexible and autonomous employees
  • A workforce that’s unified through robust internal technology and communication infrastructures
  • A global team of expert communicators who work effectively together to deliver projects on time, on budget and to optimal quality

When lockdown restrictions are lifted and it is safe for offices to re-open, many employees will be keen to get back into the office environment. Home working doesn’t suit everyone, and that’s ok. Some people work best within an office, whilst others thrive when working from home.

What’s evident, having spoken to our experienced home workers and those that are new to this environment, is that the enforced remote working that’s arisen from the coronavirus outbreak, has intrinsically changed both sets of employees. Long-term remote workers that have previously not felt the need to be involved in regular social activities or video chats, have embraced these new activities in order to support colleagues that value these interactions, and have even enjoyed them! Individuals that are new to the company have also found that these new virtual meetings have enabled them to get to know colleagues more quickly than they may otherwise have done. At the same time, those that are new to remote working have developed a new set of skills and insights that will continue to be invaluable within the office environment.