Today there are millions of people conducting local and global business from their homes. Given the heightened concern for maintaining social distancing due to the coronavirus, a significant amount of these people are new to working from home. And, the people working from home might not even be alone given that a large number of schools have switched to virtual classrooms. I have been working remotely for more than 13 years and I wanted to pass on some tips that might help make working remotely successful for an extended amount of time.
Obviously, a trusted and working computer is essential to being successful. Whether it’s your computer or the organization’s computer, make sure you have the appropriate software and applications and you are aligned with what everyone else is using.
A lot of people transitioned to working from home quickly, but if you have time make sure that the technology works and you have everything necessary to succeed, including dependable Wi-Fi. If your bandwidth is low and is struggling, shut down other programs to lighten the load. If on a video call, turn off the video and participate with audio only.
When first starting out, it’s okay to over communicate with team members. The cadence will probably be different than it was when you were all in an office together, but you will find your rhythm. Providing regular status communication will keep projects on track and show what each team member is working on.
More prep might be required from leaders. Remember that not everyone needs to be included in each video call, conference call or webinar. It’s pretty important to be respectful of time and other people’s schedules.
Every working environment and work culture is different. Leaders should give team members a chance to contribute to the conversation and figure out what works best for your team. Are there times of the day that leaders expect a timely response? Is a response window of 2 hours expectable? Or times of the day that team members are not responding immediately? Create the basis of trust. Don’t threaten to make random workstation checks and call-ins three times a day. Be aware of how other team members work best. Are they an early morning person? Are they in a different time zone? Be flexible and intentional to have alignment and trust.
Right now people are living with the reality that their children are home all day and don’t have another person to care for them. Or people are scrambling to ensure that older and more fragile family members in need of immediate assistance are taken care of. It’s important as a team member to know that and respect it.
Have some grace. There will be a transitional time if your team is not used to working remote or if they are needing to care for other people. Have empathy and learn what your team members might need to make the transition easier. It’s okay to expect the best from people, but also necessary to show respect to others before you even get it.
Make sure you use your time wisely! A time tracking application is a great way to manage time and I have been using OfficeTime with a lot of success. Be sure to create a to-do list at the end of each work day to prioritize the items that need to be tackled the next day. This way you start each day with a clear agenda of what needs to be accomplished.
On the personal side of things, I book time on my calendar to ensure that I get regular exercise and get out of my house every single day. Additionally, I block out important family obligations for each week/month.
Be sure to have some fun through scheduled morning coffee video meetings or lunch meetings. Show and share what you are drinking or eating. Take a few minutes to care about your people and then focus on work.