Work From Home Tips to Help Your Team Maintain Productivity
In an ideal scenario, adopting a remote work program would involve plenty of planning, providing employees with clear expectations for production, setting them up with their own commercial quality workspace, and even offering some work from home tips to make the transition a little easier for everyone.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 took that scenario off the table by greatly accelerating what had been a gradual shift toward remote work. Across the professional landscape, companies were forced to quickly evaluate which of their employees could and should work from home. Many employers and employees were caught unprepared for such a massive shift in their day-to-day operations.
One of the biggest challenges a business faces when sending its staff to work from home is maintaining the same level of productivity that’s expected when team members are together in the office. While many workers eventually find that they’re able to focus better from the comfort of their own home, there is still an adjustment period where schedules and boundaries need to be set.
This is where quality managers and supervisors play an important role in making the transition to remote work. Below are a few work from home tips you can use for helping your team maintain productivity while away from the office:
Provide appropriate home office furniture
Let’s face it, productivity is going to take a hit if your employees are working on the couch or at the kitchen table. Long hours spent hunched over a laptop are sure to result in back, shoulder and neck pain over time. Consider investing in a work from home furniture program that sets them up with, at minimum, a commercial quality computer desk and ergonomic chair. Additionally, storage solutions like file cabinets, accent cabinets and bookcases organize materials so they can be accessed without breaking focus.
And of course, your team’s work from home setup should meet the same safety and durability requirements as the space they occupy in the office. Make sure any furniture purchased meets or exceeds strict industry testing standards and opt for professional installation if it’s available.
Check in with video calls
Face to face interaction is still an important part of working together, even if circumstances require it be done virtually. Scheduling time for regular video calls is a great way to stay in touch with your team while also providing much needed structure to the workday. Zoom, Skype, Google and plenty of other services allow you to connect instantly with just your laptop’s webcam and microphone. Set aside an hour daily or weekly to give direction, share ideas and get updates on the status of projects.
These meetings should be less formal than those in a traditional conference room, but it’s still a good idea to have a prepared agenda of items that need to be covered. This can also be a good time to find out what your employees’ personal commitments are (without prying) so you can get ahead of any potential scheduling conflicts.
Cut back on unnecessary emails
Getting bogged down in an endless chain of emails is guaranteed to hurt productivity whether you’re in the office or not. Consider using messaging software like Slack, Google Chat or Microsoft Teams to send quick notes and requests without contributing to the digital clutter that can stack up when team members work from home. Many of these services offer a limited time trial or a basic, no-frills version of the app that you can use for free if your company doesn’t subscribe to a messaging program.
There will still be times when email is the most efficient way to get your message across. Try to provide all relevant information in the first communication and avoid “cc’ing” those who aren’t essential to the conversation. And don’t forget to let your staff know that you also prefer to save your email inbox for important communications. The last thing you want is to miss something of significance because it was lost in the shuffle.
Promote a healthy work-life balance
In a perfect world, everyone would have a workspace where interruptions and outside distractions can be limited the same way they are in the office. That simply isn’t a realistic expectation when working from home. It’s important for managers to accommodate those employees who need to oversee home schooling, childcare and other personal responsibilities. Be flexible by allowing your team members to make up work at night, on the weekends, or another time when they’re able to focus more of their attention on the task at hand.A common challenge work from home employees face is the difficulty of keeping our jobs and personal lives separate when the two occupy the same physical space. Showing your staff that they can still maintain a healthy work-life balance builds a level of trust that will lead to higher productivity in the long run.
Avoid micromanaging your staff
We’re used to regular contact with our staff, even if it’s just a quick visit here and there. It can be easy to feel disconnected and out of the loop when your employees work from home. Too often, managers overcompensate for a perceived lack of control by involving themselves in the minutiae of their team’s workflow. Not only does this slow down progress, but it also adds to what’s likely an already stressful time for employees by thinking they need to justify tasks that they’re usually able to finish without a second thought.
Try to avoid meddling by focusing your time on making sure your staff has all the resources it needs for work from home success, providing clear communication regarding projects and priorities, and being readily available to quickly and concisely deal with any issues that pop up.
Be an asset for work from home success
With the work from home tips above, your team should have no trouble reaching and sustaining the level of production that was expected in the office. Don’t forget that management plays a vital role in the success of any remote work program. Let your staff know that you’re all working toward the same goals and be flexible with how and when projects are completed.