Social Distancing at the Workplace: Effective Social Distancing Measures to Keep Your Office COVID-19 Free

With the quarantine measures relaxed and thousands of people going back to the office, social distancing at work will likely be the first subject of the conversation. After months of working from home, we can be a little apprehensive with the idea of returning to the office. How exactly do we “social distance” in the workplace? 

There are social distancing measures that people must follow in the office, such as the six-feet distance that people must keep between themselves and others. We don’t know how long these social distancing requirements will last, but employers and employees will need to work together to introduce and implement these guidelines to keep workplaces safe and secure. 

Social distancing measures have set in motion a change to office life that is unanticipated: the office layout. How can people maintain the six-feet distance between themselves and others when they’re sitting right next to their coworkers, for instance? How will people eat in the pantry? The main problem that arises, then, is this: how can employers and employees work together to make sure that our offices are safe spaces that will keep its occupants healthy?

Why Social Distancing?

Before we dive into the changes serviced offices or offices in general must implement, we must discuss why it is important to follow social distancing measures in the first place. 

Covid-19 is a disease that spreads through people who are in close contact with each other for a prolonged period of time. When one person sneezes, coughs, or even talks without a mask on, droplets emitted from their mouth will be propelled through the air, eventually putting everyone nearby at risk of contact to the virus. Social distancing measures are especially important in an office, which are usually compact, enclosed spaces where airborne diseases can easily spread. 

Keeping a safe six-feet or two-meter distance from other people can help mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Avoiding crowded spaces and refraining from close-contact social interactions such as shaking hands and hugging can also help. Rearranging office layouts and lessening the density of the workplace are just two ways to adapt to social distancing measures, thereby keeping office occupants healthy and safe from disease. 

How to Promote Social Distancing in the Office

Not all offices are the same; every office will face different sets of problems when adapting to social distancing measures. However, the following changes can work for every office, no matter its size, shape, or design. Follow these changes and practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in your workplace.  

1. Allow some employees to continue working remotely

While there are employees who are ready and raring to go back to a socially distanced office, there are still others who are cautious and wary about entering public spaces, especially during commutes. Let those who can work remotely do so; this will lessen the office population and thus reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19

a. Stagger start times

It would be better for the employees who are going back to the office if they came in at different times, and not all at the same time. Stagger the start and end of shifts so that there won’t be a morning and evening rush. This will ease the number of people congesting elevators and other common areas, as well as help those who use public transportation avoid heavy traffic. 

b. Rotate schedules

Alternate the weeks on which certain people can come in. For example, split employees into teams and have Team A come in during the first and third weeks of the month, while Team B will come in during the second and fourth weeks. While one team is at the office, the other will be at home, thus halving the office population and giving people more space to practice social distancing properly.  

2. Take a good look at your current office

The first step to making adjustments that adhere to social distancing measures is giving the existing office layout a good look. More likely than not, removing every other desk will not be the best option. When changing the layout of the office, one must consider foot traffic, high-touch surfaces, spaces that can become easily congested, dead ends, and common areas. Once those spaces have been identified, then the hard work of restructuring the layout of the office can begin.

a. Make a simple map of the office

Adjusting the office begins with careful planning, and careful planning starts with making a map of the existing office layout. Make sure to include pillars, boundary walls, doorways, power outlets, and other immovable features in the map. By making a map — even a simple one — employers can plan out a new, socially distanced layout that will maximize the space of the office and ensure the safety of their employees. 

b. Identify high-traffic areas 

One simple way to identify the areas where people usually walk is by checking the spots where the carpet is worn out. These areas are the high-traffic pathways of the office. Take note of the locations of these high-traffic areas and keep them in mind when making the office map, because these areas are where congestion is likely to happen.  

c. Consider routes to and from desks

Employees should be able to go through the office entrance to their desks without passing by a lot of people. When adjusting the layout of the office, make sure to create new paths that avoid busy, high-traffic areas and pass by the least number of people possible. Implement a one-way traffic system for best results.

3. Change the office layout

Social distancing protocols will have to change the way that offices look. While this includes removing some desks, that is not all that there is to it. Socially distant offices must have the following adjustments made. 

a. Put partitions for unavoidable face-to-face interactions

There will be places where employees will have to have face-to-face interactions, such as the reception desk. For these places, consider installing transparent partitions. While these partitions aren’t as effective as masks and social distancing, they do allow communication while creating a physical barrier that can protect employees.

b. Measure six-foot buffer zones around each workstation

Social distancing measures call for a six-foot or two-meter distance between people to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 through tiny droplets that fall through the air. To make sure that employees are socially distant while at their workspaces, employers must create a six-foot buffer zone around each employee’s desk. This means that some desks must be taken out, if the distance between each adjacent seat is less than six feet.

If the office has rows of desks that face each other, it might be enough to just remove every other chair at each row. This would create vacant seats on either side and in front of each employee, thus satisfying social distancing protocols. 

Once each desk has been arranged in a socially distanced way, then employers can determine how many employees can come in at any given time. This information is very useful when deciding who will work at home and who will come into the office. 

c. Remove some seating

There will be areas in the office where social distancing will not be possible, such as the lobby, break room, pantry, or reception. If there are seats and tables at these spaces, some of them will have to be removed to enforce social distancing measures. Aside from removing these seats, one can also face them to the wall or cover them in signage that will prevent people from using them. 

d. Set maximum occupancies for meeting rooms

Without proper social distancing measures in place, shared spaces like pantries and meeting rooms can quickly become overcrowded. Employers must determine how many people can be in these rooms while still maintaining the recommended six-feet distance between each of them. Make sure that the new number of people allowed in the break room or conference room is communicated to each employee.

Employers must also consider ways to reduce the use of these rooms. Encourage employees to eat at their desks, or have their meetings via video conferencing tools such as Zoom.

4. Put up signage and posters

Ensure that employees understand and remember the social distancing protocols that are in place by placing clear signage and posters in all areas. Make sure to set down big, brightly colored floor markers six feet apart so that employees can more easily follow the recommended safe distance from each other. Enforce the one-way traffic flow of the new office layout by putting arrows on the floor. Add posters about maximum occupancies and proper social distancing measures outside each meeting room, common area, and elevator. 

5. Expand office space

Once the hard work of adapting to social distancing protocols has begun, employers might discover that they do not have enough office space to safely host their employees. For those with budgets, expanding office space is always a good idea. Those without budgets might start looking for office leasing or space leasing. By moving some employees to a satellite office through serviced offices in Makati for example, employers adapt more quickly to this new normal. 

No matter the size or shape of the office, changing to the new socially distant layout that increases space and reduces density will no doubt help reduce the spread of Covid-19. While no one can truly say when the pandemic will end, it is always helpful to make the office a place that prioritizes the safety and health of its occupants.

If you’re looking for a safe office space for your team, please drop us a call or email us at hello@archoffices.com 

How Will Workplaces Transform in a Post-Pandemic World?

While most people are currently working from home, it is highly likely that offices and other workspaces will return in some shape or form once the pandemic subsides. Some do not have proper working environments while others miss face-to-face interaction among colleagues and collaboration opportunities that the office can offer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has overturned almost every aspect of work, most importantly, employees’ needs in the spaces where they work.  A completely remote workforce can be improbable given the intangible benefits of social connection and collaboration that in-person working provides. Nevertheless, it is important for businesses to create optimal conditions for employees to work remotely as well as in the office. Companies will need to consider new strategies and transform the workplace to adapt to the workforce’s changing needs.

First Things First: Health and Well-being

Employers are always bound to comply with workplace health and safety regulations. The health and safety of employees must be prioritized by employers as they return to the office. COVID-19 has raised everyone’s awareness about their surroundings and other potential breeding grounds for communicable viruses or diseases and this has sent businesses scrambling to redesign their offices to meet new health requirements and respond to a workforce that has a heightened concern for health and well-being. A healthy paranoia, so to speak, on personal health and wellness is to be expected.

As an employer, communicating that these health precautions are in place can reassure employees that their return to work will be safe. However, it is not enough to tell your employees that it is safe to go back to the office. As an employer, you have to show that the workplace has not only been redesigned to confront the health crisis, but that these changes have been restructured around the type of work their employees do on a daily basis.

Air quality, ventilation, and temperature regulation could provide ways forward and are important factors to start on. For instance, airports, leisure facilities, and hospitals across the globe have come up with smart building solutions to better detect infections and reduce transmission. With emerging technologies just around the corner, we can surely think of simple ways to start with and long-term plans to set definite goals for workplaces and employees after the pandemic.

Reimagining the Future of Workspaces

Many of us definitely miss the simple joy of coffee with our colleagues in the pantry. Brainstorming in the lounge and sketching out ideas on the whiteboard are just some of the few things that cannot be done by remote teams. What separates a physical office from a remote work set-up is the collective energy of a space filled with enthusiastic people united in a common purpose.

It goes without saying that remote work is a success for most businesses, especially if they are fully capable and they have the means to provide their employees with the tools they need.  But many are struggling with solving complex problems and creating new ideas without the intrinsic human experience of working together, not to mention in office spaces designed specifically to foster creativity and innovation that companies need to grow and be productive.

Social connections in the office build trust that can last for so long among colleagues. After many months of working apart, remote employees note that the main reason they want to go back to the office is for them to collaborate and socialize in ways that are not possible remotely. Consequently, efforts to create a wide variety of spaces and office designs that support these work modes should be ramped up to develop a working atmosphere conducive to good social interactions and active collaboration.

Employees will continue to be drawn to comfortable workspaces that support their well-being and allow them to have face-to-face conversations. And so employers and decision-makers must pivot towards encouraging safety protocols and physical distancing measures not only to boost productivity, but also to promote a work environment where your employees can feel safe. (Read: How ARCH Offices Reinvented their Spaces Amid Covid-19).

Short-term Solutions

 

1. Carry out office-wide cleaning protocols

Employees will want to know what kind of safety protocols employers are putting into place to avoid the spread of the virus. Businesses must implement cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for all workstations, facilities, conference rooms, lounges, and lunchrooms at regular intervals throughout the day. The cleanliness of shared workstations and private desks must be given priority so the employees can concentrate on their work. Effective safety signage can also be installed in entry points and common areas to keep your employees well informed and protected.

2. Rethink meeting spaces

Gathering in a small meeting room without proper ventilation will not look good to people anymore as it can increase the risk of being infected. As people return to the office, meeting and conference rooms should be utilized by only half of the people it can accommodate. Other team members can join virtually through communication and videoconferencing platforms.

3. Improve indoor air quality

Aside from close contact with contaminated surfaces and infected people, the coronavirus could spread through airborne particles in indoor environments. Furthermore, small respiratory aerosols are released when people talk or breathe. These aerosols can build up over time in an office or any other enclosed space. Adding UV lights to air handlers can help cleanse the air and destroy bacteria and viruses. Bringing in air through heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems mitigates any contaminant in a space and reduces the exposure of anyone inside.

Long-term Solutions

 

1. Take the office outside

With improved air filtration systems becoming a key strategy to diminish COVID-19 transmission, outdoor workspaces are becoming the new trend. Some organizations have been experimenting with outdoor workspaces to increase employee engagement and offer a change of scenery. After months of working from the comfort of their homes, employees are craving human interactions to be productive. Adding an outdoor workspace can help businesses restore the lost sense of community for remote workers and give them a chance to reconnect with nature and reduce stress levels.

2. Incorporate biophilic design

Increasing the connection between people and nature does not stop in outdoor workspaces. If taking the office outside seems unachievable, you can always enjoy the benefits of nature from inside your office. Incorporating green walls, natural lighting, and lush greeneries in indoor environments can boost creativity levels, increase productivity, and make your office more attractive to potential talent and clients. Additionally, many plants act as natural air purifiers, making them more vital now than ever.

3. Revolutionize office floor plans

As companies reopen their offices, physical distancing and hygiene concerns may prompt overall floor plan designs to be changed. It is possible that businesses shift back to traditional layouts which include cubicles and private offices to encourage social distancing. Other areas to re-examine are shared facilities such as comfort rooms, which employees use over the course of the day. Door-free entrances similar to airport restrooms can be used to reduce the need to touch surfaces and door handles. Correspondingly, other doors in the office can be redesigned with a foot-contact point or an automated or voice-activated technology that allows them to be opened with the wave of a hand or voice command.

4. Touchless Technology

Numerous companies are starting to shift to touchless office innovations, for example, washrooms with motion sensor lights and light-activated hand dryers and sinks. Presently, advances that were viewed as pleasant to-have — from applications on cell phones to control lighting, temperature and AV gear, to elevators that open with corporate identifications — are being added to lessen contact. 

One thing we have all learned while being isolated for almost a year now is that we value human connection and we want to interact with our colleagues physically at work again. When employees return to the office once the coronavirus pandemic eases, their productivity, health, and safety will have to be front and center.

Restructure your workspace to accommodate employees during the pandemic, and plan for this configuration to be flexible and mindful of employee needs and work habits as you make their health a priority. 

The lessons we learn from this experience will help us design new work environments that promote health and wellness as values that are embedded in our office blueprint.

The future of the workplace is not certain, but it’s important to realize that we’re in the midst of a transformation. 

If you’re interested in moving into an office space that has taken health, wellness, and productivity as major factors into how we have transformed our workspaces, get in touch with us! 

 

What Employees Really Want In a Workplace

For many months now we have proven we can easily and efficiently work from home. Focus work and productivity has been reported to be exceptionally effective at home, and remote collaboration also saw an improvement in effectiveness as compared to doing both activities in the office. However, we can’t manage to effectively do all work activities from home. The workplace not only still remains relevant, it may be more important than ever.

 

There’s really something about going to the office to do some work. People want to go to work to work and somehow create a schism between their life at home and life at work. The role of the workplace has transformed since the pandemic impacted our worklife. 

 

According to a survey done by Genslar, “the most important reasons employees see for coming into the office include meetings, socializing, connecting with colleagues, and building community. This underscores the fact that being with colleagues in person is an invaluable part of the workplace experience, as is being part of a community that can’t be replaced virtually while working from home. This is not only changing expectations of how we work, but it’s changing the role of the physical workplace. The post-COVID-19 workplace will shift away from a place where people simply go to work, and into a place where people want to be to meet, socialize, and work with each other. It will shift from a “work” place for individual work to a “convening” place for group work.”

 

The workspace needs to metamorphose according to time and circumstance. These are determined by technology, the state of the economy and life in general. There’s often a disconnect between what employees want and what employers think employees want. 

 

In Vault’s article Top 9 Things Employees Want in a Workplace, According to a New Study, 

 

“The study—conducted by Future Workplace and View, and written about in the Harvard Business Review by Future Workplace Partner Jeane Meister—found that employees care little about Google-like perks such as food trucks, bowling alleys, and craft-beer happy hours, and care a lot about the basics of human survival such as air, light, and water.” 

 

You need to tailor your space based on their basic needs to get work done and how they can work their best. To ensure you are still providing the best and safe space for returning employees amid COVID-19, here are the top things employees really want in an office space:

 

A Physical Office

In a survey for employees across the United States, 83% of the respondents said they wanted to spend some time in an office over working remotely all the time. Most people, especially after all these months in lockdown, want a change of scenery.

From the same survey, more than half wanted private offices, while less than a third wanted an open floor plan and 20% prefer cubicle offices. 

Most employees have assigned spaces. This means companies should provide office space which employees can personalize, if possible.

It’s most likely similar here in Metro Manila. Remote work has so many challenges. There are daily challenges while living in one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Working from home, employees struggle with crying babies, the occasional crowing rooster, neighbors singing karaoke, and every other distraction imaginable

Great Workplace Environment

If companies spent more time investing in improving the workplace environment over perks like onsite gyms and game rooms, productivity will drastically improve. Employees really just want to be able to work without getting distracted. Here are some of the things they want:

Better air quality

In a survey by Future Workplace, 58% of respondents said they wanted fresh, allergen-free air to improve their wellness.

Comfortable (Natural) Light

The same survey also has half of employees interviewed saying they wanted a view of the outdoors to feel better while working. Employees don’t want to feel boxed in so a view of the outside can improve people’s wellbeing.

Comfortable Temperature

Employees feel better when the temperature is ideal. This means not feeling like winter is coming. Employees are also less likely to get sick from a freezing workplace. Make sure the room temperature is optimally set. Ask your employees.

Privacy

As the trend towards open offices continued, the more employees realized how much they valued their privacy. While collaboration is certainly appreciated by employees, certain work needs complete focus. The solution is variety. Give employees the ability to choose according to their needs.

Employees want their own personal space more than any other place at the office, but companies need to provide other spaces.

You want to provide a variety of locations:

Personal spaces

These spaces need to feel like a base for your employees in case they need individual time on some work.

Large meeting rooms

For when the teams need to meet or do an activity together.

Collaborative spaces

Open offices can be made for entire floors or per team

Places to relax

Employees also need a space that feels entirely separate from the office while being conveniently located nearby.

Quiet spaces

People need a space for meditation or silence

Open office setups save on costs but usually sacrifice privacy and overall comfort for employees. By bringing back privacy even to open offices, you can achieve the purpose of open offices—increased engagement. Giving employees the option to avoid engagement ultimately makes it their idea when they do choose to be engaged with a coworker. One of the takeaways of the great open office experiment is that balance is the key. It’s about organizing space that encourages a variety of experiences.

Great office design provides escape when employees need it. Employees feel empowered by management to make their own decisions, even on how and where they work.

Less Distractions

Another known issue with open office design can be visual noise. Even when you find a quiet spot to work, you can get distracted by activity in your periphery. You need an office design that helps you focus.

There’s also actual noise, which is a common issue for employees. Noise distractions impact employees’ ability to concentrate. Some of these distractions are ringing phones, typing on keyboards, and coworkers talking.

Ask CEOs what the single most important leadership skill is and they’ll tell you: Creativity. The business world is consumer-driven and each day requires problem-solving, iteration and ideation. But these distractions get in the way of creativity and innovation.

Noise control is vital to designing a great workspace. You want to avoid hearing unwanted chatter as you’re trying to meet a deadline. At Arch Offices, we’ve carefully designed serviced offices that meet the criteria, helping clients get work done.

People-centric Office Design

Workspaces need to be catered to the people who will use them. The office needs to motivate and inspire employees. It needs to feel conducive to focus and productivity. Our office spaces in Makati are designed to be just that—flexible and customizable according to how people want to work. Some want to work on their own, others in small teams, and still others in large teams.

Chances to Collaborate

Now more than ever, businesses see the advantages of connecting outside the workplace. “Premium” coworking is trending in large companies for several reasons. It is catering to established professionals and companies that aim to keep their offices small, as well as innovative business owners that see the value of exposing their employees to outside people.

The coworking trend was pioneered by startups that wanted to share space (and cut costs) with other companies. Now, corporations are investing in coworking too. Coworking is now a part of a larger movement for creating spaces where people feel more connected, healthier, and happier.

People Can Thrive in a Workplace That Meets Their Needs

While work from home has proven to be feasible, we cannot completely remove the importance of the workplace. Most employees still want to go to work to a physical space. Companies have to design a workplace that all their employees both in-office and remote, that can cater to their different work needs given the many changes in the way we work. 

As business owners and managers, we need to provide spaces, both open spaces or private offices that help employees get things done. This also means providing personal spaces, coworking spaces, and even quiet rooms while considering a safe workplace for employees during the pandemic. 

Employees will appreciate it when you offer their own space to work. The best workplace is one where people can do their jobs well and with minimal stress and distractions. 

Do you want to find the ideal workspace in the best location that you and your team will love to come to every day? Get in touch with us.

The New Normal of Workspaces: How ARCH Offices Reinvented their Spaces amid COVID-19

Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels                                                                                                            

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has upended our lives in general—disrupting our routines, affecting our jobs and businesses. The global pandemic has altered how and where we work, making us rethink the future of office spaces. With our current situation, the way we design workspaces will never be the same again. COVID-19 has created the need for a faster than anticipated transformation for our workspaces; one that shall ensure a safe and efficient work environment for employees returning to work amid the pandemic. At the end of the day, we must adapt and roll in with the punches to thrive in the post COVID-19 world.

While the pandemic has posed a challenge for everyone to adapt to the new normal, the role of the office environment is more important than ever. 

Here are five key features of the workplace amid COVID-19:

 

1. Well-implemented Social Distancing Protocols 

COVID-19 safety measures require greater physical separation in workplaces via spatial means. To ensure proper distancing between co-workers, workstations should be spaced further apart. Sensible strategies include putting up barriers, moving desks apart, and decreasing chairs. Seating arrangements should also be spaced accordingly, making sure that employees are avoiding close contact. The same measures apply to conference rooms as meetings shall be limited in the number of participants, duration, and proximity. Most importantly, physical distancing should be observed at all times—even in elevators, cafeterias, and restrooms.

2. Enhanced Disinfection Efforts 

The key to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is to implement regular cleaning schedules and enhanced sanitation measures. If feasible, business owners can also invest in automated systems like motion-sensor doors and faucets. We want to avoid touching potentially unclean surfaces as much as possible, especially for offices in cities like Makati that rely on public transportation. By eliminating the need to touch surfaces, members and guests will feel more comfortable getting in our offices.

3. Installation of Sanitation Facilities 

To make people feel more secure, offices are highly encouraged to equip certain areas of the workplace with sanitation products such as hands-free soap dispensers, complimentary face masks and paper tissues, disinfecting mats, and automatic hand sanitizers.

4. Improved Workstation Designs 

There are alternative ways to reinvent serviced office layouts in order to make physical distancing feel more comfortable. Adding new elements to workstations like glass is one option. Conference rooms can also be redesigned to create a more flexible working environment. If your office has narrow hallways, you can turn some of them into one-way only corridors if possible. In preparation for future disruptions similar to COVID-19, we will need to future-proof our offices with adaptable furniture, antimicrobial appliances, and technology that limit touching.

5. Display of Signages and Reminders 

One of the best ways to properly maintain safety protocols is to set up visual aids. Display posters about proper handwashing procedures and measures on how to reduce the risk of virus in visible areas of the workplace to raise awareness. Floor stickers are also effective to ensure that everyone is keeping proper social distance. For one-way entry and exit points, clear signages and markings are vital. Apart from floor decals, you may also opt for directional arrows displayed eye-level at the walls or doors of the office.

 

As we adjust and reconfigure serviced offices to cater to the post COVID-19 environment and ensure a safe workplace for our members, we have started to implement temporary changes that will secure the safety of our members. Here’s how we made our office spaces safe and secure during the pandemic:

Watch Our Video: How we are making our offices safe

 

 

1. Health and sanitation protocols upon entry

Everyone will be subject to health and sanitation procedures before entering our premises. There are sanitizing footbath mats ready at the entrance to disinfect footwear and body temperature will be checked upon entry. Everyone will also be required to answer the DOH Health Checklist first before finally being granted access to our office spaces.

2. Regular disinfection of common touch points

We established new protocols and amplified cleaning schedules to make sure that high-touch surfaces and common areas are sanitized regularly. Our disinfection and sanitation efforts focus on workstations, countertops, and door handles, among others. If necessary, there will also be immediate COVID-19 disinfection provided for objects or corners in the workplace that may likely be touched or visited by a person who is suspected or confirmed to have the virus.

3. Contactless hand sanitizers in common areas

Automatic hand sanitizers are located at entry and exit points, as well as other common areas. We have utilized some of the desks and corners in our office spaces as hand sanitation stations to help promote proper hygiene and most importantly, reduce the risk of infection among co-workers.

4. Visual sanitation reminders and signages

We posted signs and reminders in prominent places around the workplace to increase awareness and help our community observe proper health protocols. Some of the signages we displayed include COVID-19 hotlines, proper handwashing procedures, guidelines for occupying meeting rooms and other common areas, safety measures for using appliances, and instructions on how to use RFIDs safely, among others.

5. Proper observation and implementation of social distancing protocols

We have implemented movement restrictions and physical distancing measures to ensure minimal physical contact within the workplace. We have also established safety protocols in accordance with health and safety guidelines. Two-meter distance between workstations and seats in common areas are properly observed to avoid close contact between co-workers. As the national and local governments continuously implement new health guidelines for the public, our community assures to follow the standards to create a safe space for our members and clients.

The changes in the work environment may feel strange at first, with co-workers separated by partitions and avoiding physical contact. “New normal” can mean differently in a lot of ways for all of us, but we know for sure that the pandemic has changed the workplace forever. The challenge ahead of us is to make our work environments even better than before. These enhancements are ever-evolving, keeping pace with changing health guidelines as well as member needs. But one thing remains a constant at ARCH Serviced Offices: We are focused on providing you with a safe and secure office space so you can continue to create your best work. As we continuously reinvent office spaces for the better, we aim to ensure a safe working environment and improved level of wellbeing for our members. 

If you’re interested in leasing or renting an office space at this time and want to learn more about our safety measures, please get in touch and email us at hello@archoffices.com.

 

6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic

Image courtesy of Ivan Samkov from Pexels

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caught everyone off guard—from small and medium-sized enterprises and startups to business owners and employees. As companies began to resume operations in the wake of the global health crisis, their entire workforce is reintegrated and employees are gradually returning to the office with safety measures in place. Most employees are going back after working from home, while some are coming from a much needed furlough.

In any case, these varying work experiences have the potential for stirring up tension and anxiety. Reentering the workplace after a global pandemic such as the coronavirus is a first for all of us. But there are ways on how you can manage your stress and boost your productivity, and such measures can also help you build mental resilience and adjust to the new normal with less anxiety.

6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Jeffrey Czum from Pexels

List Down Priorities for the Day

As you go back to work, prioritization will be crucial than ever. Start off your day by listing down your to-dos according to their level of importance. But with nonstop emails from your superior and ad hoc tasks coming up every once in a while, deciding what deserves your full attention can become overwhelming. Nonetheless, the benefits of mastering prioritization can change your life. Knowing which tasks to focus on can reduce stress, improve time management and productivity, and even help you strike a healthy work-life balance as you create better boundaries during your workday. A study by researchers at Florida State University found that being committed to a specific goal makes it easier to focus your brain solely on the task at hand. Once you know how to prioritize both your time and tasks, you realize that much of the work that seemed urgent at first does not really need your attention—at least not right away.

Practice Soothing Activities During Commute

Making your way to the office can either be an opportunity to find momentary solitude or a source of stress. Before heading to work, prepare a comforting playlist. When you are taking public transportation, catch up on your favorite book or watch Netflix on your phone. If you are walking to work, take a moment to look around and appreciate the sights. A study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that adding moments of leisure to your day can reduce both your brain’s and body’s response to stress, thus decreasing heart rate as well as improving your mood and overall well-being.

Share Key Takeaways

Every one of us has definitely learned a thing or two in the last five months. Whether it is finding out about our most productive time of the day or learning about new organization techniques, these key takeaways might just be as helpful to your colleagues as well. You can incorporate these lessons that you have uncovered during the lockdown to accommodate changing workplace needs and improve efficiency. Apart from that, these exchanges of information can lead to increased performance and improved decision-making.

Reintroduce Team Building Activities

You may have tried virtual team building activities with your remote team to boost morale and chill out after a long day of work. It could have been in the form of thrilling games, happy hour, or simply just a fun chitchat to cultivate a sense of community despite the distance and situation. These team building activities can help combat loneliness and isolation, especially in the case of remote workers. While a skeletal workforce is being implemented in most companies nowadays, you can suggest having contactless in-person activities to get everyone back in sync and regain a sense of belonging.

Be Open About Your Well-being Goals

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected our physical and mental well-being, thus forcing us to acknowledge that we must also prioritize our self to unlock our full potential. While most of us are returning to the workplace, some might still be going through some significant physical and emotional impacts of the unfortunate situation. Carving out time for a focus group discussion or one-on-one with your superior or colleague to lay down your well-being goals is essential in fostering accountability and encouragement.

Put Away Devices Before You Sleep

Poor sleeping habits lead to higher levels of anxiety. Checking your phone or laptop and browsing through social media for news updates can trigger fears especially in times of crisis, resulting in lack of sleep. Not only can it stimulate our brain and make it hard to wind down, the light from the screen can also suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that the body makes to help us sleep. Moreover, a study by the European Sleep Research Society found that sleep impacts our ability to pick up on other people’s emotions. By putting away your devices hours before going to bed, you can sleep better and be your most compassionate self.

6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Andrew Neel from Pexels

Totally eliminating stress from our lives is impossible, but we can learn to manage it. We may be dealing with stressors we have never even experienced before as we return to work. But when we discover the root cause of our stress, how we respond to it, and what helps us recharge, we can be in a position to prevent any imminent issues that may affect our productivity.

ARCH Offices Opens Its Newest Premium Office Space at NEX Tower

Following the launch of its fourth space at Pacific Star, ARCH Offices has just inaugurated its first ever premium-grade office space located at the gleaming NEX Tower along Ayala Avenue in Makati City.

Strategically located in the heart of the central business district where a competitive environment for thriving startups continues to rise, ARCH Offices’ newest premium space offering at NEX Tower is ideal for businesses that want to make a mark in their respective industries.

ARCH Offices - NEX Tower - Lobby - ARCH Offices opens its newest premium office space at NEX Tower - Blog

A striking presence in Metro Manila’s most dynamic and creative district

NEX Tower has 38,000 square meters of top-grade office space and is a few minutes’ walk from major transportation hubs, numerous bus routes, major arterial roads, as well as the biggest and most prestigious shopping malls in the country. Behind the tower is the eclectic neighborhood of Legazpi Village which is home to several food spots, cocktail bars, and local upscale restaurants.

The building sits along Ayala Avenue which is recognized as the “Wall Street of the Philippines.” A quality arrival will welcome tenants and visitors in a soaring lobby that has been designed with security and efficient circulation in mind. Two elevator banks with a total of 15 lifts, including the retail podium elevator, provide ample provision to decrease waiting times. There is a terrace with lush planting for breakout working and informal meetings. For tenants and visitors arriving by car, the tower offers seven levels of parking with 384 bays.

ARCH NEX Tower - Meeting Room 1

All-inclusive business amenities catered to you

Our top-notch amenities were designed with the needs of our partners in mind—workspaces where they can innovate and collaborate, and services that include high-speed Internet, first-rate IT support, transformative working areas, as well as Plug & Play and turnkey office solutions. Our team of experts and trained professionals are available on-site 24/6 should you require any assistance for a seamless transition.

The spacious private offices and open workspace areas were purposefully designed to make guests feel at home, productive, and innovative all at once. Members are given access to work booths and meeting rooms where they can collaborate with their team. The pantry is also stocked with free snacks and beverages not only to satisfy your cravings and coffee fix, but also to keep you energized throughout the day.

Take a tour of our newest premium office space here!

ARCH Offices - Private Offices - ARCH Offices opens its newest premium office space at NEX Tower - Blog

Designed for productivity and collaboration

Our premier office space in NEX Tower comprises high-end amenities that guests can indulge themselves in. The space boasts a welcoming, elegant reception that gives people a hint of the stylish work environment and state-of-the-art facilities that await. Japanese minimalist design was incorporated into the space, boasting a modern yet minimal look, and at the same time complementing the muted earth tones that create a warm and soothing vibe. This color scheme is a great match for light ash wood finishes as well as compact and lightweight furniture.

This style, at its heart, is a combination of functionality, simplicity, and a variety of off-whites, sepias, and wood tones that work well together and radiate a homey work environment. The entire office has perfectly planned zones that ensure comfort of work in various conditions—from team meetings and focus rooms to lounge work areas and coworking tables.

Fused with lush greenery, wall murals of tropical plants, and a mixture of natural and artificial lighting, our space generates a positive effect on the well-being, fosters engagement, and drives productivity for individuals and teams to create their best work.

ARCH Offices - Working Bar Area - NEX Tower

Legazpi Village: a terrific mix of art, dynamism, and stillness

The building nestles in the energetic neighborhood of Legazpi Village, which is a hipper and younger counterpart to Salcedo Village. It is a haven for foodies and a watering hole for night owls who want to blow off steam after a hectic day at work. The community is just a walking distance from Makati’s main thoroughfares and commercial establishments. There are different banks and ATMs where you can withdraw and deposit money with ease. Drugstores and convenience stores are also well spread out across the neighborhood for your daily essentials.

Despite it being in the heart of the business district, one-way roads and lush greeneries make it a great place to walk around in. Washington SyCip Park, a flourishing oasis amidst the metro’s busiest districts, is a paradise for people who want to unwind and get some peace of mind. Sculptures and classical music playing from hidden speakers positioned around the park are a gift to the sight and ears of those walking by. Every weekend, the Legazpi Sunday Market opens its doors to blossoming entrepreneurs who set up stalls with artisan crafts so folks can dine and shop while chitchatting and making friends—all in one warm and friendly venue. Educational pillars like the Asian Institute of Management and other international schools that are found in the village contribute to its youthful vibe, apart from the younger urban professionals who work in the area.

ARCH NEX Tower - Open Area 3

The coronavirus pandemic presents a unique challenge for all industries and businesses across the globe. We want to ensure everyone that ARCH Offices is continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation and is adhering to protocols set by local health authorities. As we tread this health crisis, we are taking the necessary steps to protect the well-being of our community. Watch our safety measures video!

Check out more photos of our newest premium office space here. Choose the right office space that your team deserves. Get in touch with us at hello@archoffices.com so we can arrange an exclusive sneak peek for you!

Return-to-Work Guide for Employees During COVID-19

Image courtesy of Kate Trifo from Pexels

 

Months after the world was struck by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus still poses major health, social, and economic risks. Businesses around the world are slowly getting back up on their feet amidst the unfavorable prevailing situation. Most companies have asked their employees to continue working from home, especially those who are comfortable and do not have any issues with collaboration and productivity.

As cities have begun to lift lockdown restrictions in the last few weeks, companies find it very essential to impose effective safety and health precautions before they allow their teams to return to the workplace. For employees, leaving the comfort of their home is a tough choice while the virus is still out there.

While businesses are taking precautionary measures to protect your health and well-being, you have to make sure you are doing your part by adhering to the policies and strategies in place. Look out for yourself and your loved ones by making a few changes to your office routine to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Face Mask - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Before You Head Out

We have to admit that our usual outfit of the day or #ootd will no longer be the same. Before you leave home, check your local government and health authorities’ official website for possible travel restrictions that are aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 among cities. Be sure to check your temperature twice a day and be on the lookout for respiratory symptoms. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible and isolate yourself for two weeks.

  • Leave jewelry and other nonessential accessories at home.
  • If you have long hair, keep it pulled back and securely fastened.
  • Instead of contact lenses, consider wearing glasses to avoid touching your face. Eyeglasses also serve as protection against droplets of sneeze or cough that may contain the virus.
  • Prepare clean clothes and shoes you can change into after work. If possible, bring them to the office.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within reach.
  • If you are bringing your own car, get rid of nonessential items and instead, have disinfecting wipes available to wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  • Make sure that you sanitize your driving wheel and door latch regularly.
  • Wear a face mask.

COVID-19 Public Transportation - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog- ARCH Offices

Source: The Wall Street Journal

In Transit

While traveling, it is important to remember that maintaining a 6-foot distance away from other people decreases your chances of getting infected and infecting others. Everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe from the virus. Always take into account the risks associated with different types of travel. You will be fine if you keep your distance and take all the necessary precautions.

  • Avoid frequent touchpoints.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Use your shoulder to push doors open.
  • Avoid crowded areas and mass gatherings.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after touching potentially contaminated surfaces such as door latches or railings.
  • Steer clear of crowded public transports such as buses and jeepneys, especially if they are not following safety protocols.
  • If at all possible, switch to e-payments for using public transport.

ARCH Offices - Working Bar - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

ARCH Offices – NEX Tower

At Work

Make sure you are well aware of all the COVID-19 policies at your workplace and keep track of daily updates from your immediate supervisor or team leader. Should you feel that your safety is compromised due to violation of physical distancing rules or lack of safety measures, inform the administration right away.

  • As soon as you arrive in the office, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering every surface of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Always keep your face mask on.
  • Avoid handshakes, high-fives, hugs, or any other physical contact with your colleagues. Stick to contactless greetings.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow if in case you are not wearing a face mask.
  • When eating, place your mask on a clean paper towel then store it in a clean paper bag.
  • If you must use the elevator, maintain physical distance and keep a toothpick handy to push the buttons. Discard immediately after use.
  • Avoid sitting in cramped spaces like meeting rooms or the cafeteria with your colleagues.
  • When using office utilities such as the coffee machine or the printer, make sure you sanitize your hands before and after use.
  • Sanitize or wash your hands before and after using the comfort room.
  • If a colleague is feeling unwell, inform your immediate supervisor or team leader right away.

Washing Hands - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Burst from Pexels

Upon Arriving Home

While it is critical to follow safety measures at work, it is equally important to eliminate any risk of transmission upon returning home. Think about any possible risk you may have encountered throughout the day. Did you come in contact with some people during your commute? Always bear in mind the safety precautions you can take to protect your family and reduce your chances of being infected.

  • Take off your shoes outside your home. Clean them with disinfecting wipes.
  • Dispose of your mask properly. If it is made of cloth, wash it thoroughly with warm water and bleach solution. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.
  • Disinfect your phone, wallet, eyeglasses, and any work supplies. Leave what you can at work.
  • Wash your hands and arms thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds before you touch anyone or anything.
  • Put your used clothes in a separate laundry basket or directly into the washing machine.
  • If you are working in a high-risk environment or you think you may have come in contact with a COVID-19 suspect, take a bath as soon as you reach home.
  • Disinfect and sanitize high-touch surfaces in your home regularly such as doorknobs, light switches, tables, handles, counter tops, faucets, appliances, etc.

 

The best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands regularly. If you start feeling unwell and believe you might have contracted the virus, isolate yourself from your family and call your local healthcare provider immediately. Always be cautions and follow these safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe despite the threat of coronavirus.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Image Courtesy of Edward Jenner from Pexels

 

Now that cities around the world are beginning to lift lockdown restrictions, it has become important for businesses to adopt new strategies and safety precautions before their employees go back to the office. As per global health authorities, evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, which suggests the need for organizations to administer sanitary regulations and contemplate on the possibility of hands-free technology as part of their workplace reopening strategies.

Workplace safety extends not only to disinfecting and sanitizing the office, but to good communication and healthy office culture as well. It does not stop after disinfection and sanitation; it also extends to good communication and healthy office culture.

These guidelines will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on your employees as you navigate through this crisis and enter the new normal.

Clean and Disinfect Work Areas Regularly

Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Keeping surfaces clean is essential in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These include laptops, keyboards, desks, keyboards, doorknobs, handles, light switches, faucets, and smartphones. In addition to regular cleaning using soap, water, and cloth, you can also use bleach and hydrogen peroxide but remember to follow all necessary dilution and protection practices according to the label.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Freepik

Increase Safety and Security Measures

Research shows that the virus does not spread as easily in the outdoors or areas with good ventilation. Installing high-efficiency air filters and better HVACs (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems) will help you lessen the viral load in your office interior.

Employee screening is also highly recommended to better track potential carriers of the virus and it should be done by an official COVID-19 testing personnel. If Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not available, no testing should take place.

 See guidelines below for COVID-19 testing personnel:

  • Screening shall be conducted at the office entrance using thermal scanners requiring no skin contact.
  • Stand behind a plastic or glass partition to avoid respiratory droplets that may be produced when employees talk, cough, or sneeze.
  • Wear a face shield, a pair of disposable gloves, and a gown if you expect to have extensive contact with the employee.
  • Check for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • See if there is coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Check the temperature by reaching through an opening in the partition. Always keep your face behind the barrier.
  • Reusable thermometers must be cleaned between every check.
  • After screening the last employee, remove and discard PPE and gloves, and then clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • If the employee’s temperature is equal to or in excess of 37.4 degrees Celsius, he or she should not be allowed to enter the premises to commence work.

Always remind your employees to wear a face mask when inside the office premises, except only when drinking or eating. Doing so will help them protect themselves especially when it is difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Image Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Observe Physical Distancing

Keep the transmission of COVID-19 under control by maintaining a safe distance of at least six (6) feet or two (2) meters from one another when possible. Workstations may have to be adjusted and rewiring may have to be done to widen the gap between employees.

Consider the following distancing strategies:

  • Increase physical space between employees’ workstations to ensure six (6) feet of distance.
  • Enable one-way traffic flow through hallways and aisles.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements. This method will lead to fewer people in the office as well as less face-to-face meetings. But before you plunge into a remote work set-up, you must make sure that your team’s IT infrastructure and laptops are well equipped and configured with the best technology for remote collaboration.
  • Arrange work schedules to decrease the number of people in an area at a time. Have some of your team members work remotely for a week, then have them come into the office the next week. Ensure that meticulous sanitation procedures are done between shifts.

Practice Proper Waste Management

Employers should conduct a thorough assessment of the hazards to which their employees may be exposed, then implement good waste disposal measures to avoid the risk of exposure.

  • Provide trash bins lined with a plastic bag for easier and contactless waste segregation.
  • Avoid touching used tissues and other waste when emptying trash bins.
  • Provide your employees with all necessary PPE once risk of infection is identified. Have the COVID-19 testing personnel train them on how to correctly use PPE and make sure that they follow the guidance available.
  • Dispose of items used to clean surfaces immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Develop an Effective Communication Strategy

Developing an integrated communication strategy is critical as you and your team navigate through these uncertain times. Now more than ever, it is important to reassure and support your employees who may be going through some challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Below are some of the best practices to consider when communicating with your team members amid the crisis, whether in-house or remote:

  • Give regular and concise updates that are relevant to your industry, business, and workplace.
  • Create an internal communication channel intended for posting company updates.
  • Put together a Communications team that is dedicated to answering questions and disseminating information across all departments.
  • Provide another communication channel where your employees can reach out for any concerns or issues that may arise.
  • Display signage throughout the entire office premises that will keep everyone mindful of safety: physical distancing, proper hygiene, wearing of face mask, cleaning recommendations, room etiquette, and symptom checks.
  • Encourage virtual meetings through video conferencing towards the end of a workday such as team snacks or happy hours, especially for those who are working remotely.

It is essential for leaders to keep your communication lines open and check in regularly with your team as it is easy for collaboration to dwindle without face-to-face interaction, particularly in the case of remote teams. Moreover, tell them how much you appreciate them and reassure them of the continuity of your operations as well as your core mission and values.

 

While timelines for reopening offices and resuming business activity remain fluid, businesses are expected to bring employees back to work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As an employer and leader, it is your responsibility to prioritize the health and safety of your employees. Adopting a shift in workplace policies during this crisis may seem daunting, but approaching these efforts with an abundance of caution can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and ensure both your employees and facilities are prepared for the new normal after this pandemic.

7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected

Image Courtesy of fauxels from Pexels

 

In the past couple of months, remote work has been on the rise because of how the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to adapt to enable continuity of operations. This global health crisis has likewise led to organizations being accustomed to different schedules and habits that make remote work both manageable and productive. While this work arrangement can spur a great deal of difficulty at first, it also opens up an avenue for positive changes and increased collaboration among remote teams.

Now that you have adopted remote work policies and a remote workforce in place, how can you effectively communicate and collaborate with them especially during a crisis? Some challenges that remote work poses include time zones, technological differences, cultural differences, and language barriers, among others.

Apart from these unique threats, you also have all these common struggles associated with remote work to overcome:

Struggles of Remote Work - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: State of Remote Report, 2019

Managing a remote team is becoming the need of the hour. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set up the path for your team’s success. And these digital tools can significantly improve your remote work processes and help you stay on top of things while operating from your home office, a coworking space, or anywhere else in the world.

Slack - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Slack

For Quick Messaging and Chatting – Slack

Slack is a messaging remote work tool that helps in team communication, allowing you and your team to exchange ideas and give comments in real time. It has great team management features for planning, running projects, assigning teams, as well as playing games and activities. It is also an efficient platform for company-wide announcements and is available for both iOS and Android to give you complete functionality.

Other Best Features:

  • Different channels for multiple teams and projects
  • File sharing
  • Archived messages with a search feature
  • Third-party app integrations
  • Voice and video calls

Alternatives:

  • Google Hangout
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype
  • Flock
  • Wire
  • Mattermost

Zoom - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Zoom

For Video Conferencing – Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing and communication tool designed for remote teams, virtual business conferences, webinars, virtual meetings, and other corporate purposes. Many business leaders regard Zoom as one of the best remote collaboration tools because it replicates face-to-face interactions and in-office meetings. You can see how your team reacts to a suggestion or an idea. You can even share your screen with other team members for a collaborative discussion when you are presenting. This is an effective feature especially if you are teaching someone how to use a new app or you want to display a document for the team. If you are a digital product seller, you can easily show them a demo without having to guess their genuine reactions. No wonder Zoom is one of the top market winners during this COVID-19 crisis.

Other Best Features:

  • Join as a view-only attendee
  • Built-in security measures like password protection
  • Instant or scheduled meeting setups
  • Fullscreen and gallery view
  • Voice sharing

Alternatives:

  • Google Hangouts Meet
  • join.me
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • GoToMeeting
  • BlueJeans

Toggl - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Toggl

For Time Management – Toggl

Toggl is an easy-to-use time tracking app that can give you an overview of time spent on various tasks. It was designed to accurately track how long it takes to accomplish a project and was originally intended for freelancers to ensure accurate invoicing and fair payments. The app’s data visualizations can help you compare profits against time spent on tasks and labor costs, allowing you to see which projects and clients are most profitable. Toggl is web-based but also offers native apps for desktop, iOS, and Android that sync together in real time. Furthermore, the app can be used both online and offline for continued productivity.

Other Best Features:

  • Charts
  • Day-by-day breakdown
  • Full reports
  • One-click time tracking
  • Reports sharing

Alternatives:

  • DeskTime
  • Everhour
  • Paymo
  • FreshBooks
  • RescueTime
  • Hubstaff

ProofHub - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: ProofHub

For Project Management – ProofHub

ProofHub is an all-in-one project management app that offers a replacement for conventional emailing and a bunch of other tools, integrating multiple features under one roof. By using this app, projects can be accomplished faster with proper utilization of allocated resources, not to mention easier scheduling and tracking of tasks for an effective remote team collaboration. Creating projects, communicating with teams and clients from around the globe, as well as delivering outputs on time and keeping things organized can now all run smoothly with the help of ProofHub.

Other Best Features:

  • Online chat
  • Multilingual
  • Gantt charts
  • Project templates
  • Activity logs
  • Request forms

Alternatives:

  • Trello
  • Google Sheets/Excel
  • Basecamp
  • Asana

Google Drive - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: PCMag

For Cloud Storage and File Sharing – Google Drive

Imagine your Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and even images and videos in one convenient location that is accessible to your remote team—that is Google Drive for you. With this digital tool, your team members can also collaborate on a particular document, leave comments, and make real-time changes. You can grant other people access to certain files and allow them to view or make edits as you wish. Moreover, Google Drive comes with a free 15g storage space.

Other Best Features:

  • Convert PDF files to Docs
  • Scan documents
  • Filter searches
  • One-tap phone backup
  • Set up offline access

Alternatives:

  • Dropbox
  • OneDrive
  • pCloud
  • Sync
  • Canto

Zapier - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Zapier

For Workflow Automation – Zapier

Simply put, Zapier can automate almost any type of business process. This workflow automation software has the ability to share data with and connect to over 1,000 web apps such as Facebook, Google Drive, and Slack, among others. Just build a workflow in their editor, select the apps you want to integrate into your workflow, and then design it. Zapier lets you create what they call “Zaps,” which allow you to build entire workflows using over 500 integrations from document sharing and social media to project management and email marketing.

Other Best Features:

  • Connect over 1,500 apps
  • User-friendly workflow editor
  • Multi-step workflows and conditioning logic
  • Collaboration tools for teams and organizations

Alternatives:

  • Automate
  • Zoho Creator
  • Microsoft Flow
  • Integrify
  • KiSSFLOW

Dashlane - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Dashlane

For Password Management – Dashlane

Having several passwords can be challenging, but a structured and secure password management tool will bear the burden for you. With just a few clicks, Dashlane can remember your login details. It is encrypted and easy to use especially for first-time users. This tool also has the capability to store logins for up to 50 accounts in a secure vault with multi-factor authentication. Should you opt for Dashlane’s premium service, you can monitor the dark web for data breaches and receive personalized alerts if any of your personal information appears in stolen data.

Other Best Features:

  • Easy syncing between devices
  • Includes VPN
  • Secure document storage
  • Extension that supports Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Alternatives:

  • LastPass
  • Keeper Password Manager
  • RoboForm
  • True Key
  • Enpass

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of businesses to enable remote work. This work arrangement can be challenging, especially when it is sudden and uncalled for. But with the right digital tools in place, you can maximize productivity and establish collaborative workflows among your team members, wherever they may be in the world.

5 Best Practices to Effectively Hold Virtual Meetings

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the way people work across the world, most businesses have adopted work-from-home policies as quickly and effectively as possible to allow for continuity of operations. During this difficult time, the challenge for employers is to help their teams adjust to this new reality while ensuring morale and productivity are affected as little as possible.

In reality, most organizations cannot just simply shift their in-office meeting structure to video conferencing and expect the same exact results. Thankfully, modern technology allows us to hold face-to-face meetings without having to be in the same location, let alone in the same room. Though there may be big differences between office-based and online meetings, becoming accustomed to this new paradigm is paramount to your business. Here are tips to help you put your best foot forward and ensure your virtual meetings run productively.

Choose the Right Meeting Tools

Picking the right tools for your virtual meetings can be daunting, what with the abundance of technology that makes the process faster, easier, and more collaborative. It is important to know the key functionality you will be needing for the meeting to be successful. Do you need to see your teammates’ reactions as you talk about your weekly tasks or achievements? Try a video conferencing software like Skype. Are you going to work on a file that should be accessible to and editable by others? Google Docs would be there perfect choice. Do you need everyone to watch a video or PowerPoint presentation in real time? Then a screen-sharing software like Zoom is a must.

Set an Agenda

If you want your virtual meetings to be successful, you need to plan your agenda prior to the meeting itself. The best remote meetings have an agenda set beforehand so attendees can come in knowing what they will be discussing. Expectations must also be set ahead of time. When leading a meeting, establish basic ground rules—ask attendees to join the call on time, close out email and other browsers during the meeting, as well as to always keep their video on and mute the audio when they are not speaking.

It is worth noting to include the following on your agenda:
  • Key talking points
  • Structure
  • Team members in attendance
  • Any relevant files or documents

Creating a clear agenda and a series of guidelines will help ensure that your team is on the same page before the virtual meeting takes place.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

Before starting the meeting, make sure that you have a quiet place so you can focus without any distractions. Check if your workstation is in tip-top shape and everything is organized—from documents you will be needing to how your home office looks in front of the camera. If your boss or teammate asks for a specific file or information that has a physical copy, you should be able to present it right away. You should also let your family members know that you are on a call and would appreciate extremely limited to no interruptions.

Practice Proper Virtual Meeting Etiquette

It can be easy to fall victim to some major meeting faux pas, but this can be avoided to keep your meetings efficient and professional. Online meetings are like a whole new ball game compared to office meetings because of our current situation, and let us assume this could be the new normal for the months or years to come. Keep in mind the following codes of conduct and behavior during the actual virtual meeting with your team:

  • Turn off all notifications and make sure your cell phone is on silent.
  • Make sure all team members are in a quiet area free from unnecessary distractions.
  • Give everyone a chance to speak and contribute.
  • Do not stare at your phone while other people are presenting.
  • Do not interrupt other people when they are speaking.
  • Do not work on other tasks, like checking email or other websites, during the virtual meeting.

Plain and simple, just practice common courtesy. People want to be heard, seen, and respected during an online meeting—just like they do everywhere else.

Keep Your Team Engaged

From setting an agenda to practicing proper etiquette, these important guidelines in getting a virtual meeting up and running would be useless if your team is not engaged. It is important to start the meeting with a casual conversation or an “ice breaker” to lighten up the mood. Catch up with your teammates especially in these trying times. Ask them about their families and how they get by every day. Showing them empathy and compassion makes them feel that they are cared for, which enables them to open up and be comfortable. Moreover, come up with several interactive online activities that are fun and engaging to avoid dull meetings. In virtual settings, you do not have that face-to-face interaction, so you have to work hard to gain their trust and build rapport.

 

Successfully holding a virtual meeting can feel overwhelming especially during this time, but it really does not have to be. When you follow these tips, it will not matter whether you are working with a team of five, or even more than ten, and even if they are miles away from where you are—you will have everything you need to be productive and to run online meetings smoothly as you would do in a regular office one.