If you’re a small business owner working from home during Covid, you may be feeling pulled in different directions.

After all, as we’ve been reminded recently there are plenty of ways for working from home (WFH) to go wrong  like:

  • ABC News anchor Will Reeve went viral after (apparently) appearing on a Good Morning America segment without wearing pants
  • struggling with tech problems without your I.T. department
  • people getting caught using the bathroom during Zoom meetings

Although working from home looks a bit different for everyone, it doesn’t have to be a disaster. 

In this post you’re going to learn about some of the most common pitfalls plus some practical tips for working from home during coronavirus.

Let’s get started…

The problem with working from home

Social-distancing measures and government-mandated stay-in-place orders have forced many small business owners to transition their workforce to working from home.

Yet, it can be difficult to maintain continuity when your staff is stuck at home.

It’s not just fighting the temptation to spend all day in sweatpants and PJs. The bigger issue is that millions of Americans are participating in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment during a time of overwhelming stress.

Because many organizations’ remote policies were designed to address short-term situations — like inclement weather or a sick family member — social-distancing protocols forcing people to stay at home for long periods of time leaves business owners in uncharted territory.

There are a host of issues that arise when your people can’t work in your physical place of business.

Image credit: Buffer 

That can make it tough to stay productive and maintain balance.

Small businesses struggle to adapt as more workers stay home

How do you figure out when to work, where to work, and how to create boundaries between your work and personal life? How do you empower your employees to do their best work while reassuring them during anxious times?

With millions of Americans working from home because of the outbreak, small business owners are looking for answers despite being forced to change how they work.

After all, there’s no playbook to show you how to keep your business moving through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

According to Forbes, only 3% of small business owners say their business prospects are improving during the crisis.

In other words, if you’re struggling to adapt, you are not alone. 

5 expert tips for working from home during coronavirus

With only 1 in 3 employees having worked remotely before this unexpected change, adjusting to working from home can be a challenge. Here are five expert tips to help you succeed.

Communication is key — When you can’t interact with your team face-to-face, documentation and processes are important. Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype can help you communicate and collaborate remotely. Because email is asynchronous, platforms like these are great for replacing in-person meetings since they allow for real-time communication.

Pro tip: Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and career coach at job listings site FlexJobs says, “Communication is really the foundation of good remote work. It helps you stay on the same page as your teammates and supervisors, and with the added pressure of the unique situation we find ourselves in, communication will help keep teams productive and cohesive.”

Prepare for productivityResearch shows 75% of people who work remotely say there are fewer distractions compared to working out of the office. But, productive remote work doesn’t happen accidentally. Help your employees work efficiently using tools like Monday.com, Asana, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Suite, and Microsoft SharePoint.

Pro tip: Experts advise scheduling your day…but staying flexible, especially if you have kids at home. Not only should you schedule time for work, you should include time for schoolwork, exercise, and breaks. Stay adaptable and you’ll eventually settle on a schedule that works.

Create a culture of camaraderie — Research on remote working suggests that isolation and loneliness can affect remote workers. In fact, a study of 1,900 remote workers found that 21% named “loneliness” as the biggest struggle with working remotely. That’s the bad news. The good news is 70% of employees surveyed said maintaining relationships with their co-workers was just as important as their jobs

Pro tip: Working from home can make it difficult for your employees to connect with their co-workers. Try using video conferencing at least once a week to get your employees together, so they’ll still feel connected.

Set up your space for success — It’s important to separate your business from your personal life. Although you may not be “in” the office, setting up a home office for working at home is essential. If you’ve always worked in-office with employees, you’ll probably need to get new equipment and cloud-based tools to help you run your business from home. 

Pro tip: Establish a dedicated workspace. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is all the distractions. Even if you don’t have room for a separate home office, you can make due with a small desk or table in a room where you can close the door. Don’t have that? Then invest in a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones or some disposable earplugs.

Establish good habits — According to a 2018 report by the National Safety Council, 2/3 of working Americans feel fatigue daily. Data also shows that during the pandemic, people have been eating more and exercising less. Data from 68,000 fitness trackers, shows a 39% decline in physical activity across the U.S. since March 1, 2020. As you can see, it’s important to break up your day and move your body. Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alert so you can get up and stretch every hour or so. Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods.

Pro tip: Las Vegas-based clinical psychologist Cortney Warren says, “A lot of people are struggling with their eating right now – and probably in different ways than they’re used to. There is certainly a great deal of research to suggest that when people are in a crisis situation, when they are highly stressed, one of the first things that will change is their eating behaviour.” 

We can help you work from home or anywhere

Business owners everywhere are looking for ways to adapt to the current situation. Hopefully, these tips will help you succeed even though your physical doors may be closed.

And if you want to maximize your deductions and minimize the time you spend on bookkeeping, we have good news. Neat can help you simplify the way you manage your books. 

Our bookkeeping solution lets you reconcile your books on the go — on one screen — no accounting experience required. 

We can also help automate your accounting workflow and capture documents. That way, you can easily share digital files and information with all the people who need it.

Think about it: Paper receipts, bank transactions, invoices and email data are all extracted with 99% accuracy. We also encrypt your files using the same encryption standard banks use to secure customer data. So, whether you’re working from home, on-the-go, or in the office, you can store your data with confidence.

Simple, frictionless, automated… and neat.

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