It’s times like these that make us think (and then re-think) everything we may have previously taken for granted and everything we’ve been forced to do differently. Once the health and safety of our families have been secured, our thoughts will inevitably turn to work next – how can we adjust to the change of environment and which tools will get us there the fastest?
In addition to our free-for-all software initiative, we’ve been thinking about sharing some more resources for those working from home, many of whom will be doing so for the first time.
I’m not best-placed to give you a definitive list as to what you should use or how you should work while at home, because you probably already have an idea of what works for you. So, what I do wanna share here are some things to improve the bits of your remote working that could be better, with a few examples of what works for us at Advicefront. We are also working entirely from home at the moment, however we’ve been working remotely on and off since we founded the company, with the policy of allowing everyone the freedom to work from where they feel most comfortable and productive as a matter of course.
1. Keep to a schedule
So, my first recommendation is to continue working within the structure of your usual routines and schedules, despite the madness happening out there right now. For the sake of work-life balance as much as productivity, I can’t stress this one enough. It’s really easy to go over the eight hour standard work day, more so than doing less. We become obsessed with tasks and we almost feel guilty for being at home or taking breaks, spurring us on to do more than is reasonable. Try not to let work take over and enjoy the time you’ve saved by not commuting!
First of all, set your working hours for the day, including a lunch break. Then use a task management tool like Asana or Trello to plan your tasks for the day. When clocking-off time comes, reflect on whether you got as much done as expected. If not, why? Giving yourself goals and deadlines will help push you to achieve them, stopping tasks running over into leisure time.
2. Centralise your data and your diaries
Keeping your data accessible means you and your colleagues can reach the same information within seconds, saving you lots of awkward pauses on conference calls whilst someone digs out an email. Get into the habit of working on document storage drives, a task manager, a CRM, your Advicefront portal or any other IFA tool. This means you don’t need to travel with your computer and your files won’t get lost should something happen to your hardware. To avoid copious emails about arranging meetings, use Calendly to arrange appointments automatically, whilst taking into account what’s already in your Google, Outlook or iCal diaries and syncing it with other people’s availability.
3. Carry on having face-to-face meetings… but virtually
Being out of office doesn’t mean you can’t meet with others. Adopt a system to help keep your meetings as personal as possible (there’s a plethora of tools for this purpose – select the one that fits both you and your clients’ needs).
One rule we do have with video calls is to *always* turn on your camera. Is it personal if you can’t see the other person’s face and reactions? Not so much!
You can use this as your primary mode of reaching out to your colleagues to make life feel more normal and maybe even a little less lonely! Going over a plan for a client? Turn on the camera, share your screens with each other and make eye contact.
Having a break? Turn on the camera and catch-up on the lives of your teammates, as you would at the water cooler or over a Friday afternoon pint.
My fave tools for this: Zoom for video conferencing. To supercharge this with an extra layer of efficiency, integrate it with transcription tool Otter to eliminate the need for manual note-taking when you’re trying to focus on the conversation. If your video call is designed to explain something more complex to clients or colleagues, use Loom to record and share simple how-to videos.
4. Save simple questions for the group chat
If you’re a solo adviser/planner you might not need this unless you’re chatting with web designers or other freelancers. Some discussions are definitely better had over a messenger app or email as they normally require a straightforward answer rather than an in-depth discussion on camera. Real-time chat applications can be a great help when it comes to getting a quick answer – just don’t get into long discussions there!
One of the problems with chat apps, I think, is that people tend to write lots of short messages instead of offering complete responses typed all in one go.
If you’re already within the Microsoft ecosystems (Microsoft/Office 365 or Sharepoint), getting Teams is fairly easy and has a lot of advantages (every document stored with Microsoft is accessible and editable from Teams). If, on the other hand, you’re not using Microsoft it means you’re probably using Google and in this case Slack is your friend.
When it comes to the specific system you can use for this, one of the things I always take into consideration when selecting them is, “Do I need this to be integrated with the rest?”– if the answer is ‘yes’ then Slack is a great choice.
A word on integrations
I’m going to mention Advicefront, not just because I’m biased (obvs), but because our system integrates with a fairly large group of tools that you probably already use or are considering using.
We decided to integrate with most financial planning and risk tools because one of the goals of Advicefront is to help you streamline your process and collaborate with your clients in a digital-centric way, saving you time on admin. With Advicefront you can get:
- Secure messaging with clients
- Document-sharing with clients
- Fact-find (integrated with Voyant, CashCalc and Intelliflo)
- Risk profile (integrated with Oxford Risk or FinaMetrica)
- Agreements – in both html and in PDF formats (currently in testing) which can be digitally signed with our built-in system
- Speedy collection of upfront fees via an integration with GoCardless.
The time saved commuting (or visiting overpriced wine bars!) is a great opportunity to try out some of the many tools out there aimed at bringing people closer together, digitally. These events may even have a lasting impact on the way we work, making it more important than ever to be ‘remotely effective’ 🙂
If you’re an existing client, your fees will be waived and you can add an unlimited number of colleagues in your Advicefront account for free until 30 June, 2020. If you’re new to Advicefront, just book a demo with a member of our team at www.advicefront.com and we’ll set you up with an unlimited number of free licences for the same period.