A recent report from the United Nations International Labour Organization found that while employees are more productive when they work outside of the conventional office, they’re also more vulnerable to working longer hours, a more intense work pace, work-home interference, and, in some cases, greater stress.
Working from home or social distancing or even self quarantine does not have to mean removed or alone or that everything needs to come to a stop, especially in business.
Setting yourself up for Connection can help tackle these challenges and have you feel and remain present, responsible and available for whats needed.
Heres a few tips on how to do just that and have fun!
Team Sync ups & Connection Calls
Some of the biggest challenges working from home presents, are around prioritising work and staying connected with your team throughout the day. Planning regular team sync ups is essential. Starting the day with a grounding, scene setting, ‘what this day is going to look like’ call, has the team start the day in sync and on the same page. Regular sync ups through the day facilities a continuous cohesion within the team, as well as enabling the team to adjust to any changes in the original priorities if needed.
I can already hear and see the eyes rolling in your head, not another meeting right? When will the work get done right? This is exactly the thing to keep in mind while working remotely. Have as many meetings as needed to have the team be, and stay connected AND it will most likely be more then you are used to or think is necessary, it may even be downright irritating BUT this connection and cohesion is actually the thing that keeps things in motion, allows for things to be adjusted when needed and is also energy generating!
Connection calls, can also be a way to ensure there are not feelings of isolation developing, especially in this period where we may be more restricted socially than we are used to. Have attention on this, as there will be places where we will need some new habits to handle the change in our daily routines. Simple things that we may not think are necessary but can have a lot of impact!
We all work better in Connection. Things are aligned, there is a flow and an awareness within the team (no matter the location of everyone) and we are energised through information sharing and the feedback loop that is created within the team.
One of the practical ways to achieve this as a supplement to meetings is to have some form of a communications thread with all team members set up (with whatever tool e.g. Slack or Whatsapp or the app used by your company). This is the heartbeat of the team throughout the day and facilitates flow during the day. It tackles many of the things we take for granted when we are physically located in the same place, things we may not even be aware that are just instantly available. Such as break times, where you are physically, if you are in a meeting or not. When working remotely this information is still required but it is not as instantly gauged. This needs attention and handling so that energy is not drained by people trying to figure it out!
The trick here is to over communicate! And when in doubt, over communicate! It will feel counter intuitive, you may have a ton of judgement for it, like its a waste of time, I should be working etc etc, but this is the key to enabling you and your team to spend energy on actual work and not just managing the fact that you are not all physically in the same space.
Additional communication is also essential with family or anyone you are living with (if working from home). Its essential to have a way to communicate when you need focus time and to not be disturbed, or when you are on a meeting and also general information about when you will take breaks and eat! This will set everyone up to win with the new changes!
Scheduled deliberate time away from work space
This is widely understand in any workplace, remote or not. Working remotely it needs extra attention. Ensure that you take time to handle anything in the household that needs handling, walking the dog, running that errand, taking a walk. These are all essential things to handle your space well and reduce distractions and interruptions now that your workplace is also where you live. There is a tendency to think that all that must be put aside or not thought about it until work hours are over, almost like working from home is simply a carbon copy of working from the office, same rules apply – they don’t, its important to acknowledge the impact of the change and especially of the now shared environment itself.
Consider scheduling a couple of hours, or whatever needed when its needed in order to handle things that need handling. This will prevent obsessing or stressing yourself and feeling unnecessary additional pressure. And then of course communicate clearly to your team. It’s so often not the thing itself that adds pressure, i.e. needing to step out and handle something, but the lack of communication around it that has people become alarmed and for pressure to build.
It will feel inconvenient, counter intuitive and “not allowed” but it is absolutely necessary for self care, true handling and acknowledgement of the environment you are now in and will greatly add to productivity, while reducing potential stresses. Set yourself up for success!
Don’t forget to have fun
This for me is an essential in anything I’m doing, work, family, friends and I think its absolutely essential for a connected, engaged, productive team. So much of our lives, especially our work lives can be quite rigidly structured and driven. So to remain supple dynamic and engaged, connection and play inside that connection is paramount!
This is not to say joke around and be silly or become distracted and just kick back carelessly, the kind of play I’m referring to introduces game and connection that serves what the team is trying to achieve. It brings elements of fun and humour that generates energy and a sense of togetherness in a common goal.
There are many ways to do this, some of my personal favourites are things like GIF checkins on the communication threads, a quick way of sharing how you’re a feeling in the moment in a funny playful way. Or having team dance breaks, everyone stops for a minute picks a song and moves their bodies together. There are many things you and your team can try, experiment with what works for you!
A shift to working from home can have its challenges, but through a practice of connection, communication and attention on handling your new space, that you can really extract the full potential of this change for you and your teams.