As the reality dawns that we are all going to be working from home a lot more in the future, how do we make sure we make the most of it? There are plenty of benefits, but possibly a few challenges too, especially if you are a manager. There will be difficulties that you may not have dealt with before – especially if you’ve been used to sitting in an office with your team.
Here are a few tips to help get the most out of your team and your day:
Whilst in the office you can usually tell what people are up to and how they’re feeling– this is harder when you’re not sat with them. We recently produced an app to help us monitor people’s morale and activity, we get a daily snapshot of mood across the company, but it also allows us to see trends over a specific time period.
We also use an app called Engage to record monthly 121s where people score their manager and themselves on how things are going.
Resource and train your team
If working from home is new to you, it may well be new to your people. Don’t just assume they know how to work well from home. We have invested in a company training portal and are producing courses to help people make the best use of their time.
Make sure your people have what they need. Whether it be access to equipment (we have lots of spare desks and IT equipment lying around unused at present) or support. Don’t just expect people to ask. Step out there and make sure your people’s needs are met.
Communicate a lot
Create spaces for communication & feedback. It is for you to set the agenda. Whether it be team chat sites, daily team huddles, monthly 121s, or regular surveys – make sure there are plenty of opportunities for people to feel part of work. This will help cut feelings of isolation that can arise.
Turn the video on
Collaboration is harder when apart – so we all need to make an effort to keep in touch and work better together. We have found simply turning the video on in all our meetings has made a huge difference. Make sure you “Turn up” to meetings, participate, and make sure others in the meeting get their fair share. If your company has a community hub such as Yammer or Teams, take some time every day or week to catch up on what is going on, and like stuff and comment. It will help you feel connected and remind people who you are.
Have some fun
Work is a social activity as well as your job, so don’t lose a sense of fun – set up virtual pub clubs, quiz nights, and daily/weekly meetings where the agenda is lighter and more social. I do this at the end of the day to give people closure so they can “go home”.
Lead by example
How you run your life and behave will really impact on how your people perceive home working. At present we are all in it together and the fact you are coping and doing well will really help people to see this as a positive.
Create a workspace and routine
The daily commute allows you to set a clear distinction between home and work. Having your own desk in the office gives you a sense of place. Many of us feel deprived of both when we work from home. So try to set a routine and a place of working that gives you that divide between work and home. Set your start and end times to each day, make your workspace somewhere clearly defined if you can, but equally don’t be afraid to have the occasional change of scenery, especially if the sun is shining and you can move your office into the fresh air for a couple of hours.
Make sure that people who share the house with you (especially kids) understand and respect your routine and when it will be time for them.
Use time effectively. It is a lot easier to be distracted when working from home. TV, social media, radio, garden .. there are lots of easy ways to be diverted from getting things done. It is vital that you get organised to stay productive. Start the day with a planning session. Whilst many people find a simple to-do list works, – I strongly recommend putting set times in your calendar for the things you need to achieve in the day. This not only focusses on what you have to do but also how long you have to do it. It also allows you to plan for breaks and lunch. For those who want to take this further – you might want to have a look at “Getting things done” by David Allen or "The Pomodoro Technique" By Francesco Cirillo.
We're in new territory and the current climate means that your team probably has a lot going on. Stay open-minded and don't just focus on the 9-5 work schedule, trust your team, and give them the freedom and flexibility that helps them to get their work done.
Remember that whilst there are some disadvantages to working from home – there are many positives. No commute, more family time, a fridge you can stock with things you like (healthy preferably), reduced impact on the environment. Make the most of these – treat yourself on a regular basis and think about how to make your home working experience the best you can!