How Your Employees Can Effectively Work From Home
During this nationwide lockdown, remote work has become every company's next option. Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to achieve their weekly tasks in a new environment. There are ways to deliver results and avoid employees going crazy.
The effectiveness of working from home varies from employee to employee and that is fine. Knowing what works for your employees is key to being productive while working from home. I have taken out time to list out the basic things you can put in place to make sure every employee is productive while working from home.
Have a Separate Workspace: As an HR or an executive, you should advise your employees to create an area that mentally prepares them for work. This really doesn’t have to be an office-like setting. This would help them set boundaries at home. Their family would realize that from a certain period of time they are going to make use of this space and they need to concentrate. You have to let your employees know that not having a home office space when they start remote work can lead to unproductivity. Make them understand the benefits of having a dedicated workspace by telling them to find where they are more productive, their bed, a couch, or wherever, they have to create their work zone. It may take time for them to discover where they’re most productive but when they do, they would jump right into work!
Communicate Effectively: Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is clear communications with your boss and colleagues. You have to remind your employees about this. Your employees should be able to ask themselves these questions while working remotely- What exactly does my boss expect from me? What are my deliverables? Every worker should ask their manager if they can have a 10-15 minute call to start the day and set the tasks for the day. If your company already has a particular way things are, you can just stick to that protocol using online tools like Slack and/or Zoom to keep the communication flow.
Have a daily routine: This is the hardest part for everyone, even for me. Constantly receiving calls from your bosses and clients all day and even night makes it difficult to know when to stop working. Let your employees know that the trick is to make sure it doesn’t get overwhelming because when it does, they can work all day and even skip meals. But when they have a routine, it would help them know when to start work and when to stop. They should try to start work around the same time every day if they can, take breaks around the same time every day and try to end work around the same time every day. Consistency is key! There will be times when a late deadline or project needs after-hours attention. But in most situations, a 10 PM work email can wait until the following morning for a response. Think about it.
Take Breaks: A research study shows that the most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes. This is why you should encourage your remote employees to take short breaks that are very meaningful. This would help them remain productive and avoid burnout. You can provide your employees with recommendations so that they can create a routine that favors regular breaks. If you notice some of your employees are suffering from anxiety, here are some great ways to help them better manage stress levels so that they can remain focused.
Be their Ginger: Yeah, I know these are stressful times, the headlines are not encouraging, the cases of coronavirus are increasing and there is so much panic about how to avoid Coronavirus. But you can create a routine where employees put in more effort to communicate with other colleagues, this would help them avoid the feeling of isolation that can lead to depression. Tell the managers to have regular manager check-ins – especially with those employees who live alone and might feel more isolated. Working remotely can feel isolating at times, so a part of every employee’s routine should be to interact with their co-workers regularly (yes, including the introverted ones). Chatting over messaging apps like Slack (even just saying “Hello!” when you sign on in the morning) and holding meetings over Zoom or any other teleconferencing app are two quick and easy ways to stay in the loop. Whichever way you choose to connect, don’t let regular emails be the only way you interact with your colleagues(employees) interact with each other.
Get the tools You need: It’s important to know the tools that would make working from home easier and effective. Get your employees prepared for remote work by providing: a computer, a decent wifi connection and also the necessary communication tools (Slack, Zoom, Skype). If possible tell them to get a pair of headphones that have the noise cancellation feature, so they are more focused. Working from home can bring a lot of benefits for both businesses and employees, but it needs to be properly managed to be successful.
Monitor The Performance of Your Staff: You should be able to monitor and assess the performance of your employees in this period. It would be helpful to measure their effectiveness in terms of their output rather than the hours they work. Agree on set goals and deadlines for particular tasks. Keep a close eye on how well the targets are being met and give feedback promptly and sensitively if things go wrong.
These are the remote work strategies I would recommend. Feel free to add any other strategy that has worked for your company in the comment section.