Work from Home Tips for Employers and Employees


Apr 30, 2020

This is a very difficult time for Canadians and the rest of the world as we band together to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. For many of us, that has meant skipping out on the morning commute and staying put in our home office (or home dining room table). At Foxquilt, we love being able to work, chat and see other as a team in our office during the week. To encourage physical distancing and to flatten the curve for our medical workers, our team has all shifted to staying inside and working from home too. Like many employers and employees are learning right now, it's not a simple transition - especially during a global pandemic. Here are some work from home tips and tricks for employers and employees to help stay connected, encourage productivity and improve mental health - even if we are all feeling a little bit claustrophobic being stuck at home:

Having a Daily Routine

By creating a daily routine or schedule that you stick to, you can recreate a sense of structure to the day that allows you to be productive and efficient. It also forces you to take into account time to eat, move around and not become a couch potato one week in. We were all previously used to having a routine - going to the gym, showering, having breakfast and commuting to work. Just because your office is now at home, it doesn't mean you can't have a similar, daily routine that involves getting ready in the morning to wake you up and put you in a productive mindset.

As an employer, you can provide a sense of routine or structure with daily activities or weekly meetings. This could mean a mid-week team call to see how everyone is doing or a daily, online lunch video call for team members to join if they'd like to eat together and catch up. Having something that is consistent and routine can give your team structure, something to look forward to and a sense of time.

Stay Active

It is important to still stay active even when socially distancing. If you have ever sat in a computer chair for eight hours straight, you know the real lower back pain it can cause. A major impact COVID-19 has had is the cancellation of sporting leagues, and the temporary closure of gyms. Regardless, there are still many ways to stay active while practicing physical distancing; from taking a walk around the block (follow all of Canada's isolation guidelines and stay home if you are sick) to doing a home workout in your kitchen. There are many small business, local gyms that have moved to online classes or workshops that you can help support! It may be tempting to just go from sitting at the desk to sitting on the couch at the end of work day but staying active can dramatically improve your health, mood, energy and wellness during this time.

As an employer, it's important you remind your team of this as well! You can help set up an after-work exercise hour where your team can follow along to a workout or yoga video online and encourage each other. If you know your employees have dogs, encourage them to take a break during work and walk their dogs. Even just reminding your team to get up from their desk, stretch and look away at a screen can make a big difference in the long run for their backs and eyes.

Designate a Workspace

It is important to have a place where you can be relaxed and comfortable, yet productive and organized, to do your best work. It may be tempting to work in bed or on your couch but now more than ever, it's healthier to designate separate areas for work and for relaxing. Not only will you be more productive and alert, but it is also easier to turn off and transition into relaxing when you can, literally, close the door on work at the end of the day. We may be stuck inside but we don't have to be stuck in one room or one area of our homes all day.

On top of that, make sure you have all of the tools you need to do your job at home; it can make this transition easier and smoother. As an employer, work with your team to help accommodate them with the right supplies and tools. It may mean loaning them a computer setup, special programs for their personal laptop or even a desk. There are ways to provide these supplies and equipment with a contact-less drop-off or delivery.

Stay Connected

Lucky for us we have so many tools to continue to interact with our friends, colleagues and family from afar. Tools like FaceTime and Zoom help us keep up with the important people in our lives from the comfort and safety of our homes. You are probably already aware of the numerous video calling and meeting tools such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Cisco Webex and more. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and even just e-mailing can help teams stay connected by chatting with each other. AWW app is a nifty online whiteboard tool; sites like InVision are also handy design tools that support online collaboration.

We can all stay connected in other fun, unique ways too - such as after-work online board game nights, movie nights, karaoke nights or happy hours! Tabletopia and many other similar sites feature a vast assortment of online versions of board games that can be played in browser. Having activities like this - especially if you are on boarding new team members - can remind us that we are still together, that we still have our communities even if we're away from each other.

Cyber Security

Although it may not seem that way, everyone's homes are now an extension of their office but likely without the same amount of security as usual. Many employees may be working from their own personal laptops or on their own Internet connection. Hackers and cyber breachers know this is an opportune time for cyber attacks since a majority of the workforce are working remotely without the right security measures in place; it would not be a surprise to see an increase in cyber attacks and breaches on businesses during this outbreak.

Here's a checklist to protect yourself and boost your cybersecurity; if you're an employer, encourage your team to follow it as well. If you have a tech team, see if they can assist or onboard the rest of your team if they have difficulty with certain tasks:

-Require two-step or multi-factor authentication when logging into devices or accounts

-Use a stronger password for important devices or accounts or download a password manager

- Back up important files using an external hard drive or cloud storage

- Encrypt devices that have sensitive info

-Update software, devices and security programs

-Secure and encrypt your router

- Use a VPN

-Don't leave important devices like work phones or computers in public areas, such as your car, where they could be easily stolen

With an increase of cyber risks from remote work, it may also be a good time to talk to your broker about your cyber insurance and review your policy. In the case of an attack, you can at least be prepared by having the right insurance measures in place.

Have a physical location or office for your business? Check out these safety tips for your business property during Coronavirus. Having an idle, closed business property can leave you vulnerable to nature and crime without the right precautions.

A final work from home tip for employers and employees: take it easy on yourself. We are all in this together. Everyone is under a lot of stress due to the situation at hand. It is important to prioritize your mental health during this time. If you are having trouble keeping up with your regular routine, realize that is normal and be patient with yourself. Check in with each other; be empathetic and aware that not everyone's situation may be the same. Some may be struggling with unwell family; some may not have the company of roommates, partners or family while self-isolating. We hope that some of these work from home tips for employers and employees can help your team out. If you have more tips to suggest, feel free to comment below; we'd love to promote them as well.

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