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How to make working from home work.

As business owners or leadership the onus is on us to make sure working from home actually works. Here's what I have learned so far...

As my business makes its way through the third week of working from home – here’s a few things that I have learned along the way that may be useful to other managers and owners.

Step 1 – is that you need to be disciplined and organized first. If you are not, you can’t expect your team to be.

  • Set up a defined work space at home that’s comfortable and helps you focus.
  • Structure, plan and organize your time so you are consistent in your work and your approach to your team.
  • Prepare a weekly plan and make sure to share this with your team early on a Monday so they start their week with structure.
  • Review progress and priorities at the end of every day so you can make adjustments if needed and communicate with your team in time for the next day.

Step 2 – be available and in constant communication with your team. The reality of work from home is that people are not working a standard of full 9-5, including you. This means that time can be lost waiting for feedback, clarifications or help. As the leader it’s your role to be able to respond in time and keep the work flowing even if someone else drops the ball.

So check your phone and be ready to give timely feedback, advice and responses – even if you happen to be cooking lunch at the time.

Step 3 – don’t over mange your team by messaging all the time because you don’t have that same comfort factor of “seeing” people working at office. Trust them to do their work, while being available when they need you. If they drop the ball deal with it when it happens.

Step 4 – be realistic in your expectations. You are not going to get the same productivity you did at office, adjust workloads to realistic levels so that you don’t end up losing it as deadlines are not met.

Step 5 – accept that you will have to be more involved than usual, things that you let team leads handle without any involvement from you now requires your attention. Not so that you end up micro managing but so that you know the work is done and are able to provide support and advice in a more proactive way.

Step 6 – Don’t mess too much with your work dynamic. In our case we have not implemented any project management or collaboration tools. The reason is very simple – the decision to implement work from home was almost an overnight one, given the circumstances and the sudden lock down in the country. Our focus was on ensuring teams were set up to work from home. Reviewing the multitude of software’s out there, picking what we think would be best and then trying to implement and get everyone trained and comfortable using it – all remotely would have cost us time and caused a lot more stress. We have chosen just to stick to our usual process – email, chat and phone calls. The apps are great I think if it’s a 2-3 person team or better yet if work from home is a planned business decision with phased implementation and training.

Step 7 – Show gratitude towards your team for getting the work done in a difficult time and acknowledge their achievements.    

Work from home is definitely not easy, and as a creative agency we do feel the lack of being able to discuss and share ideas in real time to solve issues and develop concepts. But with a combination of structure and focus combined with freedom and understanding it can still work.

If you have some tips or suggestions based on your own experiences – share them in the comments below.

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