Working from home now? Tips for success
HRtoolkit Tips to Support your workers to ‘get into the groove’ of working from home.
Many workplaces are trialling and preparing work from home arrangements as part of their business continuity planning. However, this move to remote working is happening very quickly, sometimes announced and actioned in the same day. I doubt many businesses have had time to put a training seminar together to assist your teams through this change, so they remain happy and productive. Here are some simple low-cost tips to help your team get the most out of working from home.
Think about the challenges working from home poses- and have a plan
For many workers this will be their first experience of remote working. Here are some key challenges:
- Setting up the workspace
- Work times and outputs
- Lack of face-to-face supervision – self-managing
- Provide our daily checklist for your team
- Communication misunderstandings because you cannot ‘see ‘ the person
- Lack of access to information
- Distractions at home
- Reduced social interaction -team building virtually
- What technologies will you use to prioritise communications
Setting up an organised workspace– with the speed of the transition to home-based working, it’s important to encourage staff to set their ‘workspace’ up to their advantage. Ideally work from home is best if you have a dedicated room shut away from the household action, to limit distractions.
However, this is not always possible, so it is important that you look at what is happening in the household and plan your day to give you good stretches of uninterrupted work time. E.g.:
- Utilise headsets and earphones to reduce distraction.
- Explain to the others in the house what you are doing. Young kids especially may not understand the “boundaries” needed to allow a parent to effectively work at home.
Work Times and outputs – Some jobs will still require fixed-working hours, even if at home (e.g. when you need to be available to answer phone calls). However, some tasks may be able to be done more efficiently and effectively outside the normal working hours (e.g. when the kids have gone to bed). To help everyone through this without the Boss worrying about how much work is being done, or the staff member feeling they are “always at work”, focus on outputs and agree on these in advance. E.g. X phone calls answered, Y invoices processed etc.
No onsite supervision – keep communication up with your team
Establish a daily check-in with each of your staff, giving them time to go over any issues or just have a general chat. Keeping in touch with your team is essential, keep these check-ins regular
Provide a checklist of ‘daily basics to help employees get into the work mindset ‘
- Get dressed!
- Use Skype/Slack/Zoom/WhatsApp etc to arrange a visual DAILY kick start meeting in the morning with the team or a colleague
- Take regular breaks
- At break times – go for a walk or step outside
- Pick up the phone or arrange to video conference your manager or a team member if you are feeling isolated.
How to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings
Without the context of the workplace environment where you can readily check in with someone, it can be very easy to misread an email or instruction. In the office, you can tell what kind of day people are having and adjust your communications accordingly.
Getting access to information may not be quite as easy when you aren’t in the office. You may have to work a little harder at communicating to get what you need when remote working. Be patient and the rule of thumb is to provide the why so you get exactly what you need from your other remote workers. It is better to over communicate than under communicate.
Be supportive and discuss struggles with distractions at home
Be mindful that some workers may have a suboptimal workspace. Offer headsets and provide a supportive stance. Being mindful should COVID-19 get into the community there may be day care and school closures to contend with.
Choosing the technologies, you will use to prioritise your communications
Have some guidelines around communication. What technology will you use in each situation? For example:
- email is best for straightforward communications
- when dealing with complex issues or discussions you need face-to-face viewing. Set a company standard for what video platform you will use (e.g. Skype/Zoom/Slack etc).
- Decide on the contact method for more urgent matters e.g. when you need to connect with your department, you may send a WhatsApp Team alert.
Be sure to establish the company ‘norms’ for their use -drawing the line between work time and private – it will be especially important to emphasis this as your workers need to be able to switch off.
Lack of social interaction – try virtual team building
Have a team exercise where everyone discusses a tip or a motivational book /idea in your online morning meeting. Rotate the person who leads it – so everyone gets to participate. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, is a great read, short, and simple ideas to get people out of procrastination and into action!
Or try virtually socialising – Friday pizza and meeting online.
Lastly amidst all the turmoil – still try to have fun as a team