The world is a scary place at the moment. At the time of writing, we are in the middle of April and the government are to announce plans to extend a lockdown for at least another three weeks. Working from home has now become a normality and reality for most people (that is, those who still have jobs). Despite the initial thrill and appeal of working from home (woo, PJs all day!) the novelty may have worn off. But, as is the case with being a PA, the job is often unpredictable, even when working from home. Below are 5 top tips to ensure productivity is reached while working from home
Still treat a weekday as a working day
Routine is absolutely key to being productive in a lockdown. As easy as it is to go to the sofa and endlessly watch T.V., treat it as a 9 to 5 or your usual working hours. Set your alarm, ensure you are at your desk at 8:30/9:00 as you usually would be.
Make a list of things to do each day
One of the most valuable skills I have learned since being a PA is making lists (this is coming from a person who used to laugh at people who made lists – how people change!) Each morning, as I browse my emails (and, crucially, before replying to any) I make a list of things that need to be done for that day. Then, this is sometimes the hardest bit, prioritise. What needs to be done within the next 10 minutes? Can it wait? Does this need an urgent reply? This strategy can be used both at work and in your everyday life, particularly household tasks, shopping and exercise. In giving yourself things to do, you will end the day feeling very productive indeed.
Ensure you have a ‘work space’ and a ‘non-work space‘
This is harder for those who lived in cramped urban flats, but try to allocate a time and place for work and a time and place for after work. For example, as tempting as it is to work from the sofa, allocate it as a place for you to relax after work. That way you won’t feel guilty when you’re on the sofa.
Take breaks outdoors
Just as you would take a break for lunch at regular work, ensure you are getting out and doing some sort of exercise that is in line with government guidelines. Not only is this important for our physical health, but also our mental health. In giving yourself a break and some fresh air, you can clear your mind and come back with more motivation and fresh eyes to work.
Speak to colleagues.
This is vital not only in ensuring tasks are met, but also ensuring you communicate with people. A PA’s job is all about communication and the transition of being with people all day to not seeing colleagues can be challenging. Schedule a weekly catch up with you team. Suggest a time where you talk about things unrelated to work, such as 15 minutes late Friday afternoon. A Pub Quiz is an excellent way to maintain team contact and, this is arguably the most important, have fun!
I thought it would be useful to speak to a HR specialist about the Coronavirus in the Workplace. What the effects could be on the working day for a small business. I have spoken to a friend of mine, Jane Fryatt from Face2FaceHr, and she has put this article together.
“We have been asked by a number of clients about coronavirus (COVID-19), mainly queries around pay. There is some excellent guidance available from Acas here covering steps employers can take. It is worth having a read of that. In the meantime, here are some common queries we’ve been asked and my response”.
When someone is self-isolating, do I need to pay them?
If someone is actually ill, your normal sick pay arrangements will apply. If they have been given written notice by a medical professional to isolate themselves, statutory sick pay will apply (and while it’s not a requirement, it would seem sensible to pay any enhanced sick pay you normally offer in these circumstances as well). The Government has announced that statutory sick pay will apply from day one rather than day four, and that emergency legislation will be passed to enact this very shortly. If someone has just decided to self-isolate, they are not entitled to be paid at all. However, if they are not ill but have been asked by you not to come into work, they should be paid in full as usual.
What happens if employees have to be off because schools shut?
In these circumstances the emergency dependants’ leave provision would apply, i.e. the employee would be entitled to a day or two unpaid leave to resolve the emergency, following which alternative arrangements should be made. Any longer absences should be dealt with using unpaid leave or annual leave.
Should I be developing contingency plans?
Yes it would be a good idea to do this if you haven’t already. Consider how you could make best use of remote working to keep your business going in the event of employees needing to stay at home. Think about cascading communication of any measures you may need to take, as the situation is changing quickly, and consider how flexible your business can be in terms of keeping going on a skeleton staff if necessary.
Will I have to pay staff if I have to shut the business for a period due to the Coronvirus?
It’s not recommended that you shut your business completely if someone develops symptoms. In the unlikely event you need to do this, you will need to pay staff unless there is provision in your contract or other agreement for you to do otherwise. If you’d like any specific advice about the workplace implications of coronavirus, please do get in touch with Jane Fryatt.
If you would like an introduction to Jane via myPA Virtual Services contact me.
When starting a business, the owner or director will have some business expectations. The first expectation will be, the business will be a success. Secondly, there will be financial rewards and personal achievement. Very few people start a new business expecting it to fail or have limited financial reward. The new business owner will be looking forward to creating fantastic relationships with both clients and suppliers. A relationship that will ensure:
Their clients will value their product or service
Clients will become an advocate for their business
Working in any office can be stressful, however, with a dog in the office, stress levels are reduced considerably. It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself, work on your own or in a corporate environment, stress is now a factor in our working lives. The skill we have to master is trying to manage that stress. We also have to be aware of when our stress levels are overflowing. It is true that we all can manage a certain amount of stress, we are hard wired for it, but an overflow can be dangerous and unproductive.
There are many tools, therapies and strategies on the market to help elevate stress, but have you thought about have a dog in the office?
Twitter for business – does it work? well, I have had a twitter account for some time now, and to be honest, I go through stages where I love it and can spend hours looking at posts and updates. Indeed, this is how I became a Virtual International Speaker on Networking. There are times however when I just want to hit my head against a brick wall. There is some much information on twitter it can be difficult to figure out which information is valuable, which is a waste of time and which is pure dribble.
Typing Services is just one of the services that a Virtual PA can offer. Typing services are often our service of the month, but even if it is not a service of the month, typing is fun. Hooray, I hear you say. I know, it’s exciting! Now, now, typing is interesting (well we think so). There are many different types of typing. At myPA, we can offer all kinds of typing services.