10 tips for working from home

With many financial advisers having now been working from home (WFH) for many months, it’s prime time to review your ‘quaroutine’ to make sure are getting the most out of WFH.

Severe disruption to the financial markets and employment landscape mean this is a crucial time for planners supporting their clients. But this can be complicated by the pressures of working remotely for extended periods of time.

For many the first couple of weeks working from home involved plenty of trial and error but slowly some idea of best practice has emerged. Here’s how to ensure you and your team remain connected, prepared and resilient.

Kaplan Professional CEO Andrew Temte offers a 10-point resource to help both financial services managers and employees succeed in a remote working environment.

Be proactive. While most jobs and tasks can be undertaken from home, some longer-term projects may have needed to be postponed to ensure short-term priorities were met. Now that the situation is less volatile, spend some time considering what actions need to be taken to start these projects.

Undertake an IT audit. From video conferencing, to accessing files and platforms, identify which applications and hardware is needed to ensure your team can perform as strongly as possible. Consider how personal devices can safely be used by those who cannot access company assets while still maintaining strong digital security.

Develop and maintain a communication cadence. Start each week with a virtual team meeting to check in, set the agenda and to allow team members to raise any concerns.

Run effective virtual meetings. Ensure that your virtual meetings are effective by sharing an agenda ahead of the meeting, setting ground rules that are important to the team and only inviting those that need to be at the meeting. Virtual meeting etiquette means using your camera and muting your microphone before you join the meeting, and while you're not speaking.

Lead through uncertainty. While managers need to acknowledge the seriousness of the present situation, they also need to maintain confidence and direction, in this challenging period, managers, more than ever before, need to be leaders.

Create a ‘buddy’ system. It is understandably difficult to stay focused on business. Pairing up with colleagues ensures roles and concerns are shared. This could be as simple as checking in daily with a quick phone call, or setting aside some time each week to have a virtual coffee break together.

Prepare psychologically. For some, working from home will be nothing new. For others, it will be uncharted territory. Each employee should have the opportunity to offer feedback on how they feel about working from home and the challenges they are facing.

Ensure your workspace is set up for success. Similar to your office, having the right workspace is crucial to being productive while working from home. Even if you have been working at home for weeks, taking the time to ensure your workspace serves your needs as fully as possible can reap dividends. Where possible, carving out a dedicated workspace separate from your living space, even if only during the day, can be a boon.

Stick to a schedule. Even though you’re not in the office, maintaining a schedule will help your productivity and prevent work from running over into your personal time. Make sure your manager and team know your schedule. It is also worth syncing your calendar with your partner and blocking out key times of the day when you’ll be in meetings or have crucial deadlines. Working in shifts also means each partner knows when they will be working, when they will be looking after children (while schools remain closed) and when they can schedule some “me time” to exercise or study.

Stay active. Maintaining an active lifestyle is important, so don't let working at home reduce the amount of exercise you get during the day. Take a walk, create a standing desk, run up and down the stairs and use your traditional commuting time as time to exercise.