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Don’t Let London Tube Strikes Halt Your Productivity

If your office is based in London (or you work with any London teams), you will no doubt be affected by the two upcoming 48-hour tube strikes, one of which starts this evening (Tuesday 4 February).  Many will choose to opt out of the chaos and work from home. But how can you stay productive in the face of this obstacle?

The Strikes at a Glance

If the strikes go ahead as planned, tube services will be affected from:

–          Around 21:30 on Tuesday 4 February until the morning of Friday 7 February
–          Around 21:30 on Tuesday 11 February until the morning of Friday 14 February

Although selected stations will still be open and some trains will be running, it is likely to be extremely busy on all modes of public transport during the strike action, and TfL is urging people to cycle or walk where possible.  So, expect people to be late in to the office, or opting to work from home.  More information can be found on TfL’s website.

Staying Productive Away from the Office

Being productive remotely requires different considerations and tools from in-office productivity; this is something we explored in part in our post on managing remote teams.  For the impact of the London tube strikes to be minimal, you – and your colleagues – need the ability, tools and resources to work flexibly.  Here are some strategies to stay productive when remote working is needed.

A Home Office Set Up

One of the major difficulties of working at home is the number of distractions that abound, so a sensible approach is to set a defined office space, which you see as the same as your brick-and-mortar office, and within which you (try to!) act as though your boss is just around the corner.  Whether this is a specific room in your house or just a chair at your kitchen table, it should be equipped with all the essentials at hand – your computer, your company’s VPN details, a landline phone if needed and so on – and away from major distractions.  It’s also best to set – and stick to – your typical working hours so that you don’t fall into a procrastination trap where you allow your work to expand to fill 24 hours rather than your normal schedule.

The Right Tools

With your office set up in place, you will also need the right tools to support collaboration. Make sure you have access to your company’s version of these tools:

  • Conferencing and online meeting services (e.g. LoopUp, Face Time, Google Hangouts)
  • Instant messaging tools (e.g. Yahoo IM, Trillian, Google chat)
  • Project management tools  (e.g. Basecamp, Trello, Smartsheet, Microsoft Project)
  • File sharing tools (e.g. Dropbox, Box, Google Drive)
  • Shared calendars (e.g. Outlook Exchange, Google Calendar)

If you need to choose new tools to fill remote working needs, you should privilege cloud-based tools and services, since these will allow you and your colleagues to access information anywhere.  And you should certainly ensure that all of the tools you choose are simple enough that people can learn them quickly if needed, without training or IT support.

Great Communication

For remote working to be effective, you need a communication style that accounts for distance, being aware of both the message and the medium.  That means responsiveness, clarity and directness.  You need to be sure you’re getting across the right information, avoiding ambiguity wherever possible and pre-empting questions to reduce back and forth.  The medium you choose to communicate in is also crucial and will differ depending on what you need to convey: picking up the phone can often yield quicker results than setting out complicated issues in an email.

As for any face-to-face meetings set up during this time, you won’t necessarily be able to reschedule these for when you’re back in the office as deadlines might be missed as a result.  Instead, use a conferencing system that will allow you to easily set up and have conference calls with others – and share your screen on the fly if you need to give a presentation, or just show others something you’re looking at.  Of course, you won’t have time to learn a whole new system, so make sure that your collaboration tools (such as your conferencing system) are easy to use for everyone.

Closing Thoughts

For remote working to be productive, you need a combination of the right setup, adequate tools, and the right communication approach.  Just as during the travel chaos brought on by the St Jude storm back in October 2013, during the London tube strikes we expect to see a spike in conferencing volume as business professionals make use of conference calls and online meetings as part of their arsenal of remote working tools. Events such as this London tube strike, although disruptive, are prime opportunities to hone your remote working skills and figure out what is working and what isn’t so that in future situations your company will be even better equipped to deal with the disruption and stay productive.

See how LoopUp can help you today – request free information.

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