In a difficult moment like this to which the COVID-19 emergency is subjecting the world, Smart Working practices seem to be a common solution to allow companies to continue their business, avoiding risks of contagion among the staff members. But in practice what is it? How you do it?
What we call Smart Working in Italy is nothing but a remote working practice, or as I learned to define during my experience in Silicon Valley, WFH ( Work From Home). Contrary to what we see in many (but not all) Italian realities, it has been a widespread practice in many companies around the world for many years and not as an emergency measure, in cases of limited accessibility to offices, but as an improvement policy of the quality of life of the employees and indirectly of the productivity of the same.
“ But if the employees are not in the company from 9 to 18 they produce much less. Also, the technologies of international companies are more advanced and more used. Do not you agree?”
Not! During my experience in an international context, I have worked with companies of various sizes, whose offices I have not attended for months. And I have even worked for years, with teams of which some members I have never known personally, but with whom I still have a great relationship of esteem and mutual friendship. We also dispel the myth of technology, just a computer and the right mentality are enough. ‘ Here, here I pause and use capital letters:
SMART WORKING IS A MENTALITY.
Consequently, given my experience (and I would dare to define) in setting the right context for Smart Working, I list the 4 points that I find fundamental, to work serenely from home without compromising and/or even improving your productivity ‘:
- Organize your workstation
- Set goals
- Don’t forget about yourself
Before we start: What do we need?
- A computer with a stable connection
- A comfortable chair
- Headphones (totally optional, but I find that they help isolate themselves from the surrounding environment and the perception of leisure/relaxation)
1. Organize your desk
This point may seem obvious and irrelevant, but it should not be underestimated for two reasons: physical and mental. You will probably spend hours sitting there to carry out your work, and do not underestimate the impact it can have on your body (posture, impact on vision in case of excessive/absent brightness, etc.). As for the mental one, Smart Working as I mentioned, works well when you can mentally isolate yourself from your home (or rather from the natural association of relaxation and recreation). Fortunately, small and inexpensive changes can help both.
For example, if you use a laptop, having an external keyboard and mouse, can make you the most comfortable position and at the same time limit yourself in “wandering around the house”. I love using two screens (you can also comply with an old tablet) and support for the laptop (something cheap like this available on Amazon ).
2. Communication, communication, communication!
Working physically away from others does not mean working alone. Quite another!
Smart Working is effective when it does not affect collaboration and the pursuit of group objectives. Fortunately, technology helps us here too. Here are a couple of digital tools that I found indispensable during my working hours from home:
- Internal messaging: essential for fast communication and document sharing. I try to adopt Slack (on which I will write some tips on how to set it up), but I have found other tools such as Microsoft Team equally effective.
- Videoconference: it remains important to have 1-to-1 communication with team members and external players (customers, suppliers, consultants etc.). Internally, the messaging programs mentioned above allow you to “launch” video call quickly. As for the exteriors, I use Zoom as it does not require others to create accounts and the invitation is transferred with a simple link, but the classic Skype is more than good.
3. Set goals … and achieve them!
This is a point that I suggest to take apart from Smart Working. Write them (not surprisingly, I pointed it out) on an Excel sheet (or use free tools like AirTable ), dividing them into tasks and objectives. Some advice:
- Create reasonable goals: writing “Being a Billionaire” won’t help you.
- Let them be measurable: writing “Increase average sales” is very different from “Increase average sales by 200 Euros”.
- Don’t be afraid to simplify: there are no tasks that are so simple that they cannot be written.
- Before starting your day, prioritize each activity. ‘
- Share: Sharing your goals creates a sort of “social commitment” on your part. You have not only promised yourself that you will but also others. And believe me, this will increase your “grit” in pursuing the objectives.
All this will take 10 minutes at the beginning of your day, but it will make you much more efficient (and effective) in using the remaining 470 ′.
4. Don’t forget about yourself
Contrary to what is believed, you will notice that if Smart Working is well set and the right level of focus is reached (or as the Americans say you zone in), you will find yourself working more than necessary and in a more obsessive way. Breaks are therefore important. Enjoy your lunchtime, don’t feel guilty if you need 10 minutes in the afternoon to stretch your legs. The time is yours and it’s up to you how to use it properly.
Now it’s up to you to show that no matter where you are or how you manage your time, you remain a key resource in achieving your organization’s goals