The need to work from home is very real right now, however many employees and companies will struggle as they adapt and seek a balance between their work and home lives. The idea of working from home seems great, but the reality can be very difficult, especially while navigating all of the other responsibilities you currently have. Remote work with children who need to be homeschooled, family members to take care of, pets who seek attention, and other daily life obstacles can be difficult to navigate for employees and employers alike. We have some tips to help keep your employees engaged and effective while they work from home.
Tip 1 – Know Your People
Everyone has different personalities and work styles. How you handle your work is not how your colleagues handle their work. Adding each different individual’s life situations into the mix complicates things even further. Each employee has a unique style and circumstance which means you will need to understand what working from home means to each person individually. If you understand your people, it makes communicating and virtual work interactions more comfortable and productive. We work with TTI to provide Work From Home reports based on your DISC profile, and have found them to be both effective and accurate. It helps us better understand ourselves, each other and how we communicate as a team. Understanding how you best work, and how your colleagues work, allows for better collaboration while in a virtual work environment.
Tip 2 – Communicate
Talk to your people, not just as an employee or colleague, but as a person. Make yourself available via email, messenger, phone, or whatever method works best for you, but be accessible. Schedule meetings (both business and social) and have one on one conversations to ask them how they are doing. Take interest in how they are handling working from home. Communicate frequently, give updates, and let people know as things change, you will keep everyone informed. Give praise when they are doing well and offer suggestions when it seems they may be struggling. Set clear expectations, goals, and KPIs. When people know what is expected of them, they are more likely to meet, or even exceed, expectations. This is new for many people, so more communication and validation may be necessary.
Tip 3 – Utilize Your Calendars
Make use of your calendars and book your time. Use blocks of time for specific tasks like meetings, checking and responding to emails, phone calls, meals, miscellaneous things that will come up, and even some time for yourself. Set reminders and alerts for projects and deadlines to work towards to help stay focused. Using your calendar to manage your day helps make sure you are allocating the necessary time to complete what needs to be done. This method can help you stay organized and help create a sense of order in your schedule in a time when things feel out of your control.
Tip 4 – Create Meeting Rhythms
All meetings, in person and virtual, should have an agenda to provide regularly scheduled meetings with a standard structure to follow. A lot of meetings have transitioned to a virtual format via Zoom, Webex, Skype and the like. With our new normal of remote work come some new obstacles for these meetings. An in person meeting is typically led by an individual and is more conducive to interaction based on cues. However, that doesn’t usually apply in a virtual setting. Keeping consistency in format allows people to be prepared, interact effectively, and get work accomplished, which, in my opinion, is time well spent. A more haphazard meeting might mean a lack of productivity, incomplete information, and missed opportunities. Meetings provide a great opportunity to catch up, understand work needs, and understand where improvements can be made. Utilizing the time well is important so be sure to use the time appropriately.
Tip 5 – Be Flexible
This is new for everyone, and you do not know specifically what someone is going through in their life. It’s easy to get lost in the idea that people need to work and be productive, but be flexible. Someone may have a child they need to help with schooling or a family member to take care of. They might not have the luxury of a distraction-free home office where they can lock themselves away. Keep this in mind and provide options. Maybe they can better focus and get more accomplished by shifting their work hours a bit or breaking up their schedule. If their quality of work is still good and they are providing their deliverables on time, allow for some grace in how and when things get done. This is not just working from home, it’s working during a pandemic, while in quarantine, at home, with other responsibilities. It is not easy and unchartered waters for many, treat it as such.
Tip 6 – Provide Tools and Support
Everyone is working from home, but do they have everything they need to do so? Consider how you can improve their situation. Provide easy and seamless access to files, tools, and softwares while your peoplework remote. Do you provide enough licenses to be sure everyone can utilize what they need? If someone needs some help, is there a process they can follow to get help or collaborate? Do you check in with your people? Establish and publicize your support network, so your employees know they have backup and someone they can reach out to for work help, to vent, or just to talk about something other than work or COVID-19. Encourage your people to support each other and to communicate their needs. This ensures they have what they need both personally and professionally to work from home effectively.
Tip 7 – Lead By Example
As a leader, you are setting an example for your team, especially in times of crisis. Employees are looking to you to set the tone not just with your words but also with your actions. You may or may not even be aware of how you are impacting the people around you. However, there are simple but effective ways to set the bar and show your team how to “show up” during this time, without putting too much pressure on yourself or them. Arrive promptly for your digital meetings and calls. This shows you value both their time and your own. Get ready and be prepared. This doesn’t mean you need to put on a three piece suit to work from home, but your grooming and dress should reflect that you’re taking work seriously. Be real with your communication. hare how things are going. f you’re struggling, let people know. Ifyou’ve found something that works for you, share it, because it shows you’re human too.
If you’re working from home and struggling, try to integrate some of our suggestions. Implementing everything at once could be overwhelming, but start with one new practice at a time and gauge the impact it makes. If you have any questions or would like some help implementing better work from home practices and policies reach out! We can also leverage our partnership with TTI to provide DISC-based Work From Home reports to better support your team as they continue the adjustment to remote working.
Written by Kylie Jentz-Cimmino.
Learn more about Kylie on LinkedIn.