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Successfully working from home during the uncertain times of COVID-19

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AWMAC by Michelle Morrell
Michelle Morrell is the National Executive Director of the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada. She can be reached at: michelle_morrell@awmac.com
The coronavirus crisis has brought about an economic shutdown that saw an unprecedented disruption to the supply chain worldwide and forced many in the woodworking industry to quickly adapt to change.
Like most in other industries across the globe, a large portion of woodworking employees working in office administrative roles were given the option to work from home due to the COVID-19 crisis.
While it is no doubt a big change to work from home, the good news is that research shows working from home can be effective and productive thanks to the marvels of technology.
Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts, and Slack have all boomed in popularity and are great tools one can use to stay in touch with the team.  
Also, the benefits of working from home lead to an increase in productivity, according to research from Harvard Business School.
Harvard research shows that working from home can help reduce staff turnover, boost productivity and lower overhead office costs. Another benefit is that working from one’s dwelling can also act as a “perk” for staff, as it enables them to have a more flexible work schedule.
Harvard research compared 600 people’s productivity under all sorts of conditions. The research found that for those working remotely, productivity “increased among all examiners and continued to rise with each step toward the full work-from-anywhere policy.”
Productivity increased 4.4 per cent when employees moved from working at home on a limited basis to the location of their choice. That means this productivity gain could add $1.3 billion of value to the U.S. economy each year, Harvard researchers found.
The research also shows that to work effectively from home, one must ensure to have the correct technology, the key to which is a reliable and fast internet connection, which can pose a challenge for those working in remote locations.
A separate workspace not part of the main living space is ideal so that when working from home one can focus on the tasks at hand. Also important is to set clear work hours for the day, as the tendency to work more hours from home is more likely due to one’s office always been “at the ready” 24-7.
A Healthline.com report offers 26 “Work from Home” tips to help navigate from a home-based office, including tips for those with kids, pets, and those with anxiety.
The Healthline report notes that it is also important to be in touch with a mental health professional, or to “find someone who is supportive and can help you manage your feelings, especially if these feelings are getting in the way of your productivity.”
Canada’s woodworking industry has been pretty resilient to the economic fallout caused by extended lockdowns and the financial crisis that ensued. It is important to note that the federal government has rolled out programs designed to help businesses in these uncertain times of COVID-19.
AWMAC National stands ready to assist our members with the resources they need to navigate successfully through the difficult times of COVID-19, and we have a comprehensive page dedicated to COVID-19 resources located at awmac.com/resources/covid-19.
On this page, you will find information related to mental health, business help links, and resource links to COVID-19 resources for each province and territory in Canada, including the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Program.
Additionally, AWMAC recently sent out a second COVID-19 Member Survey to gain better insight into the impacts of COVID-19 in the woodworking industry.
While the survey is now closed, we will be providing our members with the result from the survey soon, so please stay tuned!

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