Working from home is an effective way to ensure employees can continue to contribute in a positive and meaningful way, maintain a sense of purpose and protect their quality of life.
Like all things, there are positives and negatives for implementing working from home strategies. One of the biggest drawbacks to working from home is the lack of regular social interactions and general isolation. For leaders who are used to having all of their team in the same environment, it can be daunting to know the best way to engage, direct and support their team.
Address these areas to support a smooth transition
- Set and agree on expectations – talk with your team members about what is expected of them while working from home and how they will be managed.
- Breaks are maintained – in a different environment, it can be easy to forget to stop working. Ensure team members remember to schedule in breaks and provide.
- Evaluate how it is working – check-in with your team members regularly, be open to their feedback and be prepared to change how they are working if not going well.
- Establish a routine – even though your environment is different, establishing a good routine will help your team members to stay focused. The inclusion of a video morning ‘stand-up’ meeting is a great way to keep everyone connected and accountable.
- Communicate regularly – staying connected with your colleagues is critical. It is important to communicate more than you think you need. Check in about work but also about their wellbeing.
- Embrace the positives – remember that working from home provides benefits for your team such as avoiding commute times and travel costs.
Reduce the likelihood of isolation
For some people, working from home can feel isolating, or even lonely. Just because you are not physically with others, however, doesn’t mean that you are disconnected and cut off from your friends, colleagues and clients. Technology enables us to use our virtual network in a positive way.
- Use instant messaging apps, such as WhatsApp or Slack and video platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Teams, or FaceTime to regularly chat with your colleagues and clients and to hold virtual team meetings. Using your camera so you can see your colleagues is particularly helpful!
- Make sure you don’t just ask about work – in the same way you ask how people are when you are together you should do the same remotely. Using video, sharing photos or just checking in with others are all great ways to maintain a healthy connection.
- Keep your leaders and colleagues informed of your work progress and any work issues you are experiencing. Make sure you are accessible in case people have questions for you.
- If you are working from home but your colleagues are at work, you may want to dial in to not just team meetings, but also social events or presentations. For organisers, it is important to invite all of the team to attend, even if they are working from home so that they feel included.