Tips for working from home + remotely
During these unprecedented and everchanging times, more teams are working from home or remotely to comply with social distancing advice.
While anxiety may be heightened and staff concerns turn to job security, it is important to reassure teams and instil as much normality as possible during extremely unusual times.
With disruptions to current daytime routines and structure, here are some tips we hope will help you to create resilient, connected and strong teams.
It is possible to successfully operate and function as a team with the assistance of strong communication, scheduling and collaboration tools, and robust task management systems.
1. Set daily morning team Zoom / Skype huddles.
The importance of checking in daily and setting the agenda for the day is paramount. With updates and regulations changing almost hourly, it is important to have regular check ins and schedule work daily.
You may have 90 day plans, annual strategic rollouts and other long term projects, however during these times of crises, it is important to shorten time frames and remain agile, and adapt quickly.
Checking in with your team via Skype or Zoom not only assists in keeping team members on track, but also allows you to conduct mental health check-ins, ensure your staff are feeling connected and mitigate any problems staff may raise regarding working from home.
2. Schedule power hours / focus blocks.
Working from home comes with a range of distractions – including children, household requirements and other nuances.
A traditional working day from 9am-5pm may not apply when working from home. Shortening blocks of hours and staggering it across the day may work for staff better than others.
You may schedule times during the day that are compulsory – eg 10am-3pm where team members are all online and connected to ensure work is not slowed.
However you may find some team members will have a block of 3 hours in the evening after their children go to bed that will enable them to concentrate more deeply, and thus be more productive.
Assess the nature of the work, and whether this structure would benefit productivity more than a traditional work schedule.
3. Encourage a home office set up / distraction free location and guidelines.
Encourage staff to designate a specific area of their house they can set up as a small home office where applicable.
By creating an area that is away from normal household areas (eg a granny flat, a spare room, setting up a desk in a quiet corner of the lounge room) this will create a habit of productivity associated with the space.
Encourage good workplace habits and set workplace expectations- for example communicating guidelines – no working with the television or Netflix on in the background, scheduling specific times at the same time every day for lunch breaks, having a designated start time every morning.
4. Encourage creativity in your team members.
With changes and new ways of working comes surges in creativity. Use this time to invite team members to submit new ideas, new ways of operating and things they think will alleviate stress during this time.
For example – set a “stay connected challenge” – inviting team members to submit ideas on ways to keep connected as a team and make it a fun exercise.
5. Identify gaps in systems, procedures and processes.
Although right now – in the midst of chaos for some businesses – now may not be the time to enforce a new policy, or overview your content management system.
However, it is an opportunity to identify key processes for the future, once the dust settles to streamline your business or task management systems, for increased productivity.
Simply note down what may be missing from your business, or new risks identified, which can be addressed later down the track.
6. Have clear outcomes / deliverables / task management with deadlines
When working from home or in a remote environment, it is more important than ever to create clear outputs and deadlines for each task required.
Use task management tools (listed below) to keep on top of things, and keep operations running smoothly.
7. Extremely clear communication
Over 65% of communication is exercised with non-communicative cues – including eye contact, body language, tone, physical proximity and other messaging that gets communication clearly across and interpreted correctly.
As a team leader, it can be difficult to effectively communicate when these cues are missing (through a text, email, or alternative means), as well as it being difficult for subtle, yet pivotal underlying messaging to come across to your team – for example communicating a sense of urgency or non-negotiables.
Be aware of these missing cues and break your communication down into simplistic action steps. Although it may seem or appear common sense or straight forward to you, your team may be interpreting your message differently, and missing essential pieces of information in the process.
TOOLS TO ASSIST
Below is a list of helpful tools to make working from home a lot easier.
This simple, colour based task management system is simple to use, and provides a clear, visual overview of tasks and projects.
Using boards you can create task lists, teams, departments, projects in a way that works for your business. They offer templates also, so you can set up a board in 5 minutes, and invite team members to all view the same board.
Think of it like a virtual white board with post-it notes that your whole team can collaborate on.
Similar to Monday.com – Asana is a more advanced task management system that enables team collaboration and email notifications of task assignment.
You can easily create projects and lists, set deadlines with reminders, and assign tasks with calendar views and project timelines.
Access collaborative, livetime documents. Offering Google Sheets, Docs, Slides and more, you can share documents that team members can view or edit – with livetime edits updated within seconds, and leave comments for team members which can be reviewed.
All documents created in Google are automatically saved to Google Drive, which can be accessed by team members, and also offers the option to work or access offline.
This time tracker platform enables you to create projects and teams which tracks time worked.
If you are concerned about tracking your team members’ productivity, this tool enables team members to “clock in” and “clock out” when they are working.
Offering slightly faster speed and less dropout than Skype, Zoom is a video conferencing tool you can use to provide online team meetings.
You can schedule meetings, share screens and connect team members with a simple link invitation.
WhatsApp is a great backup for video and phone conferencing if the internet is down or disrupted.
Offering robust international connection, WhatsApp can easily offer group messaging, chat and calls.
To our clients in hospitality, events, aviation, fitness and other industries who have been extremely affected in the last 24 hours based on Government announcements.
Our hearts are breaking for you. We are here for you. Please contact us immediately if you require emergency assistance, advice, or someone to talk to.