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4 ways to work safe, secure and smart at home in the ‘new normal’

After months of quarantine, many of us have made the adjustment to working from home and might now be thinking about how our future work lives will look. A great deal of us now know we will have a much greater focus on working from home. With that in mind, now is a great time to consider some aspects of working from home that you may not previously have considered when working from home seemed like more of a temporary solution than your new normal.

Are we successfully homeworking?

At Invotra an initial workforce survey was taken in the initial stages of lockdown. It revealed that while 96% of staff were finding the experience of homeworking a positive one, there were 4 main issues that needed to be addressed.

Of those who responded to the survey 30% had issues with security, often meaning they were unable to access devices needed to complete tasks. 25% revealed they had struggled to communicate efficiently with colleagues, struggling with the transition from in person to online communications. 20% discussed their feelings of loneliness and isolation with homeworking, and 10% revealed concerns about their lack of space or office furniture causing difficulties with their productivity. 

A taskforce was begun to address these issues and we were delighted to find that these numbers improved as we continued to work from home. 5 weeks in and 100% of Invotra staff declared they felt as connected to the organisation at home as in the office!

Issues still crop up, and the ‘new normal’ is continually evolving, but these tips are from our experience in helping our workforce thrive during unprecedented times.

Take responsibility for device security

Is your home workspace as secure as it needs to be? When working in an office it’s easy to forget about the security of your physical devices and surroundings, trusting the office layout, processes and management to have you covered. Now you’re at home you may have more responsibility for your own security.

Simple steps can be taken, such as not using any public wifi networks and installing a password manager to create and store secure passwords. But as we look to extended homeworking questions to ask yourself and your employer may include:

  • Are you now responsible for keeping your laptop up to date when you’ve been at home for a long period of time?
  • Do you know how or who to check with if your device is up to date with the latest software or security updates
  • Does your device may now even need additional security software with it being used out of the secured office environment, for example, to safeguard your laptop when using home wifi?
  • Make sure you keep yourself, your devices and your organisation safe by reading up on any organisational security policies and contacting the person responsible if you are unsure how to find this. 

Invotra has always kept security at the forefront of policy and staff are continually briefed on expectations, but during lockdown, our Security Analyst, Chelsea Cadd has ensured all of the Invotra staff can access up to date policies and guidelines to keep ourselves and our customers safe.

Think about the accessibility of your communications

Now that you no longer see the people you used to work and communicate with in person, have you considered that they may struggle with some of the forms of communication you use? 

Have you started using new forms of virtual communication such as Zoom, Gchat or an instant messenger that you didn’t previously use? It is vital to check if they’re accessible for use by everyone and establish if your colleagues’ needs have changed now all communication is taking place online. 

Here at Invotra our product, a SaaS intranet and portal, is our main form of internal  communication and is completely accessible. We are able to use our internal intranet and portal to communicate with all of our users confident that they will be included in the conversation. 

But this alone isn’t enough. Our survey revealed that not everyone had access to a camera, and not everyone had a workplace free from the distractions and disruptions of homelife, so we went above and beyond to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to raise concerns in regular surveys. We also upped the documenting and  sharing of all organisational communications so that everyone felt included.

Avoid strain and injury

How comfortable are you? When we first started working from home you may have selected a workspace for reasons other than comfort, was it quieter away from other family members or was it the only place or chair available to use? Now as working from home is looking like a longer-term solution for many of us it is important to consider how comfortable and practical your workspace is. Even before lockdown, research from law firm Clyde and Co reported in the UK 1.4 million workers are suffering from work-related ill-health with muscular-skeletal disorders representing 41% of all employment ill health cases. 

Advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for people using screens includes:

  1. Taking at least a 5 minute break every hour or two to stretch out, change position or get away from your desk. Get up and move around or do stretching exercises.
  2. Avoid eye strain by blinking and changing focus regularly.
  3. Keeping good posture, and regularly changing position. This HSE video shows you how to create the best sitting position while working on a computer at home.

Take care of your own and your colleagues’ mental health

Do you speak to people less socially now that you work from home, do you miss those tea break conversations? The results of a new survey by Nuffield Health, showed working from home may have significantly impacted our mental health. According to their findings, 80% feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health. Our own surveys mirrored this, suggesting a quarter of staff at Invotra felt less motivated and lonely without the socialising of the office environment.

With working from home more it is important to consider not only your own but the mental health of those around you as we work in a more isolated way. 

Here at Invotra, we love being a social company and lockdown has really shown that. We’ve had a lot of great conversations, using Invotra groups on our Intranet sharing everyone’s lockdown challenges, (from Joe WIckes to mountain climbing in our homes) offering support to each other, no matter how successful they ended up being. We’ve made even more use of our Message Wall, to celebrate all of the achievements and events we’d normally be toasting in the office, such as new babies, birthdays and promotions.

We’ve also organised a number of social calls to keep in touch with everyone, from weekly organisation wide catch ups on Monday mornings, to  quick team morning chats, to the hilarious and highly enjoyable weekly quizzes and bingo nights on a Friday. 

It’s easy to forget if you live in a household with others how isolating this time can be for some, so do take the time to reach out as it could make a real difference to their day.

What will our ‘new normal’ be?

For Invotra the ‘new normal’ is for now to be one where we use our office spaces, but with less people having access at one time, in order to enable social distancing. However, we have seen how quickly changes occur and how working life has to evolve. If we are to continue to work, at least partly, at home, then checking on our own and our workmates’ physical and mental health, through secure, accessible communication needs to be an integral part of our normal work lives. 

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