Mastering the art of working from home
Your organization has made the call to move its employees from offices to working from home. How can you help your team make the switch smoothly?
To assist newly remote team members from the start, consider sharing these very sensible, reasonable, and easy-to-get-used-to strategies across your organization.
How do I know they work? Well, four years ago I transitioned from a scheduled position to a remote one. I have to admit the freedom was a bit daunting at the beginning, especially as my wife had been working from home for over 10 years and had her regular routines. But, we worked it out, and I’ve found a rhythm to my routine. Your employees can too!
STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE
I can’t say this enough. Start and end your workday at your usual times. Your commute is now measured in feet rather than miles. That means extra time in your day. How you use that time can positively impact your work life in a big way. For example, you’ll have extra time for your kids in the morning. Take that extra-long walk with the dog. Go for a run. Sticking to your schedule also means that you’re still able to continue your online learning programs. Routines matter and you can keep yours up and running while working from home.
CREATE AN ONLINE BREAK ROOM
You might not be able to walk across the office and grab a colleague for a coffee for a while. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t work out a virtual coffee meetup with colleagues. Take advantage of the familiar technology at your disposal to keep in touch with work friends and colleagues. This is especially helpful if you live alone.
SPEAKING OF TECHNOLOGY
If you weren’t a big fan of your company’s social communication tools, now’s a good time to reconsider. Think Slack, Teams, or GChat. These tools will give you access to what’s up, company updates, and actual human interaction. Enjoy a GIF, post one, or share a comic. Let’s not forget that your meetings are going virtual as well. Turn on your cameras to see and be seen. Don’t worry, there will be a bad hair day for everyone.
COMMUNICATE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU
As I mentioned above, my wife has been working from home for years. Once I started to do the same, for a while it disrupted her routines. Now, you and your partner may both be in the same boat. Make sure you check calendars daily. Set up new routines around dishes, clothes, and kids. Create a flexible plan that makes sense for both of you.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
You’re on a video call with colleagues, your boss, or a client, and your little one bursts into your office and alerts you to a brewing crisis, or says you’re immediately needed for an important game. Welcome to the new normal. Laugh it off and share a hug in front of the camera. Be human. The folks on the other end are probably also working from home, and will likely have the same thing happen if they’re parents. Of course, pets also like to make a majestic appearance. Working out who in your house has responsibility for the kids and pets while you’re on a call will make things go smoothly.
MAKE YOUR WORKSPACE COMFORTABLE
If you have a home office, that’s going to make your transition smoother. If you don’t, you will want to create a space where you can work comfortably. You’ll need some privacy, too. Bring the outside in, if you can, by working near a window. Sunshine will brighten your day, in more ways than one. Consider having multiple places to work. For example, I have an office in my house for work tasks and meetings. However, I often move my laptop to the living room or dining room for a change of scenery. If you’re engaged in online learning, take that part of your day in a different part of your house, or even outdoors.
MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Yesterday you may have been able to send a colleague a message and receive a response in under a minute. Today, that response took almost 20 minutes. Given this new normal, new expectations are in order. Work will get done, but timelines may have to be adjusted.
ADAPT YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE
Perhaps you now lead a totally remote team, where days ago that wasn’t the case. You still want to help your people move forward, stay happy, and remain motivated in their work. Remind yourself and your team to:
- Make sure that communications are clear
- Be transparent with information so no one feels left out
- Set up regularly scheduled video huddles
- Encourage staying connected to maintain a sense of teamwork
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This is a strange environment. A stressful one, too. Set enough time aside for you. Take a walk at lunch, or several throughout the day. (Remember, social distancing please.) Need a 20-minute power nap, set an alarm and snooze. Make the right adjustments to keep you healthy and happy.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
Transitioning to working from home is like starting a new job. You may be anxious and excited at the same time. There are moments where I’ve thought that something can’t be done. That feeling can later turn to moments of joy when I finish a project early and was able to work at home and focus on the task at hand.
I discovered that I work more efficiently at home, but was also reminded that technology isn’t perfect. Sometimes patience calls for a time out. That’s another reason I appreciate the impromptu conversations I share with my daughter and the brainstorming sessions I have with my wife.
Finally, I’ve also learned that my colleagues, friends, and family are close by, either by walking a few feet, dialing a few numbers, or pushing a few keys. I have a support network that will be there for me, as I will be there for them, and hopefully, you will have the same.