Having a contingency plan when working from home is more important than ever. With natural disasters such as the recent, devastating tornados in Tennessee and the outbreak of the Corona Virus, it is imperative that your teams know how to operate outside of a shared building space. Even today, some companies remain hesitant to allow employees to work from home. While it does require trust and communication, we remain so confident in its benefits that we only have shared work space agreements – not solo lease agreements. We have found that with proper planning and modern technology, remote working can be incredibly successful and efficient. The below tips are based on my experience of working from home for the last 15 years and leading our workforce to work remotely when they are not on their client sites.
Here’s how your team can be successful:
- Ensure you have remote access to your files. This is essential – files are the life of the workplace! You can use any web-based cloud, which is also great for collaboration across teams as anyone can make and save changes. At Actualize, we use Dropbox and encourage those with desktops to ensure that their laptops also have all the files downloaded from the Cloud.
- Create a work schedule for your core hours. When working from home, the hours can easily run together and you tend to work more. Having a structure in place can also help if you are easily distracted.
- Set up a dedicated space in your home free of distractions. Having a space reserved for working helps get you in the mindset of the day. A table or desk is best for this – while you do have the freedom to work from your bed or sofa, you may find yourself drifting to sleep. Sitting up straight and having a proper work area do wonders for motivation.
- Set expectations with your family. Let them know that you are reserving time to work and need minimum distractions. This is especially important if you have kids to ensure they are not constantly knocking on your door. Since my kids have grown up with me working from home, they know to walk in my office and check to see if I am on the phone before they yell, “MOM!”
- Determine communication strategies with each team. Work with each team on the best way to utilize technology to work remotely. For example, video conferencing is an effective way to conduct meetings remotely with a more personal touch.
- Ask each team member their preferred way to be contacted. For example, for quick questions, I prefer that someone ask if okay to call or have a quick conversation over Instant Message. If the ask is more complicated, I prefer to receive an email with all the pertinent details so I can process the question.
- Add Movement to Your Day. Without the usual office distractions, it can be hard to remember to take breaks. Movement, even if just for five minutes or at your desk, is important to schedule into the work day. I personally enjoy “walk and talk” meetings while on the phone with my internal team members. I encourage them to get out and move as well.
Even if you are not yet comfortable transitioning to a remote workforce, focus on the positives and your team will thrive while working remotely. We have found that our teams are more engaged and productive when they have flexibility and freedom. In fact, we were just certified as a Great Place to Work after surveying our people and have maintained a less than 4 percent turnover in the last four years. If you simply do not have the option to allow your team to work remotely, how can you add more flexibility to your workspace?