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Small businesses owners share their tips for working from home

With most office-based small business making the switch to working from home, we wanted to share some tips from the community on how you can make the most of the remote working situation.

From trivia and quizzes to “wine downs” and group exercise, we hope these insights bring you some practical and fun ideas for you and your teams to use.

Peter Forbes, founder of HROnboard

At HRonboard we’re all taking part each day in our 3.30pm remote working dance off and getting together on video and having coffee together. To help foster a feeling of connectivity – we’ve also created slack channels for wfh-hacks & health zone to share ideas and inspiration plus prompts to get up and stretch.

During these challenging times the continued positive engagement of both existing staff and new hires can be a make or break on team productivity and culture and our ability to ride out the economic impacts of covid-19.  As a performance-based business, we already have workplace flexibility built into our DNA. Our team (from sales to developers) are set up with hardware and software to work remotely.

Mark Tanner, Co-founder and COO, Qwilr

The shift to working from home long term can be jarring for those who aren’t used to it, and this can often lead to feelings of isolation. When you work with tight-knit, collaborative teams five days a week, it’s crucial that these connections are maintained even when working remotely. The Qwilr team has been partially remote for several years but as we made the move to a fully remote team, we made it a priority to ensure we remained connected despite not working in the same shared office space anymore.

The Qwilr team has been implementing a series of fun little ways for us to stay connected, dubbed “Qwilr FaceTime TV”, to get our weekly dose of face time with one another. Whether it’s a remote-style trivia game, guided video tours through our makeshift home offices, or regular slots on the calendar each week to join watercooler chats over Zoom, “Qwilr FaceTime TV” is ensuring we remain connected to our teams beyond work matters.

With remote work becoming the new norm, setting aside the time each day to connect with teams like this has never been more vital to keeping office culture thriving.

Ed Mallett, Managing Director, Employsure

Ed Mallet Employsure

We have shifted most of our workforce to working from home, to minimise the chance of COVID-19 cross-infection. We are currently experiencing four-times the regular demand for our services than normal, and it is important for us to keep our advice and support services teams healthy in order to meet demand.

If staff start to feel disengaged from home, the basic principle as an employer is to keep up frequent communication with as much detail as possible. We’re doing some other things here like using social media to engage with our staff, doing quizzes, and online exercise challenges.

Lucy Liu, co-founder and President, Airwallex

Lucy Lui, Airwallex

Coronavirus has introduced a new reality, with many businesses across the world turning to remote working in the wake of strict travel restrictions and work-from-home directives.

Airwallex’s China offices were the first in our global network to be affected by COVID-19. Our three learnings from their experience we’re now rolling out across our Australian, US and UK offices:

  1. Simulate a virtual office environment through digital collaboration tools, such as Slack and Zoom
  2. Continue to champion a results-driven culture among your remote teams
  3. Shift the majority of your communication channels to digital – this is where your customers and partners are during lockdown.

The pandemic will eventually come to an end, and when it does, we may see a seismic shift in the way we work, particularly remotely. At Airwallex, we are lucky to have already learnt many lessons through our China experience and we hope these lessons, available in more detail via our blog, can help others as many more organisations shift to this operating model.

Ruwin Perera, Co-Founder at :Different

Small businesses owners share their tips for working from home

Internally, we’ve started virtual wine downs every Friday, where we all share a wine (or tea) over Zoom to keep us all connected. We also introduced a ‘quarantine’ Slack channel, which has become a place for ‘water cooler’ talk throughout the day.

Rudy Crous, CEO & co-founder of Shortlyster

While the impacts of COVID-19 have been unprecedented, we have been fortunate enough to have a business that already implements a Flexible Working Policy and can continue this as usual. All Shortlyster employees already take advantage of our policy by working from home to varying degrees (with some employees being fully remote). We are able to manage this through continual communication between employees and management as well as having the tools and processes to facilitate this i.e. Slack, Google hangouts, etc. Given that all our staff are now working from home, we have implemented further strategies to ensure the team feel connected throughout this period. These include frequent virtual catch-ups and a dedicated ‘coffeebreak’ channel on Slack where everyone can go for a break and chat. It’s important that the team can still connect and support each other in a more casual manner as they normally would in the office.

Monica Limanto, CEO & co-founder of Petsy

The change in work situations and environment has been a shock to the system for a lot of people. We know that if we continue to care for our staff, that care will carry forward to our customers.

When you’re working from home for prolonged periods, it can become difficult to separate work and life. We balance out the work day with time limits, boundaries, meditation and taking the dog out for a walk outside.

While we’ve had to adapt some of our usual ways of working, now is a critical time to look after the mental health of our people so that when we come back, we’re back stronger than ever.Did you know that half of the companies in the companies in the Fortune 500 including Instagram, Slack, Whatsapp, Dropbox, Pinterest and Uber were started during a recession or economic crisis? It just goes to show that many people start from a disadvantage and are able to make it work.

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Loren Webb

Loren Webb

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