A dozen ways to make working from home better

December 14, 2021 Austin Herrington 4 min
To make remote work actually work, there needs to be an agreement from the enterprise to establish trust with its employees, and from employees to establish the boundaries they need to do their jobs effectively.

As hybrid work becomes more common, employees need to be responsive to customers no matter where they work—at home or in the office. From a leadership perspective, this means developing an environment of trust that enables employees to do their best work while still dealing with the realities of work-from-home days. Here are some remote work lessons you can apply today.

For employers, it’s about establishing trust

For many enterprises, the shift to remote work has been a test of faith in their employees. While we’ve seen a surge in surveillance software adopted by companies to track their remote workers, a study by Harvard Business Review observes that, compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:

  • 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives
  • 40% less burnout

At Windstream Enterprise, we agree with HBR’s assessment. In the spirit of mutual respect between the organization and its employees, here are some tips from Let’s Roam we’d like to share for keeping morale up for home-based workers and establishing trust.

Practice transparency

Positive leadership and transparency directly affect employee trust in a leader. Organizing regular meetings and staying transparent about business developments is vital to building trust. Take advantage of your integrated collaboration tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, for quick updates. For larger announcements, consider a video town hall.

Celebrate unique skills

One of the easiest ways to build trust is to identify, understand and celebrate each employee’s unique skills and contributions. Employees are most productive when they feel valued and heard. By acknowledging and utilizing the differences among team members, you can boost productivity.

Focus on the output, not the hours

Traditional 9-to-5 workdays don’t apply to remote work. When teams are dispersed (and often separated by great distances), team leaders can demonstrate trust by allowing them to set their own schedules. By maintaining an open dialogue and setting clear goals, you can empower remote workers to manage their time effectively. It’s not the schedule that counts, it’s your team’s output.

Give honest, thoughtful feedback

Many remote workers are unaware of their performance unless they receive feedback from their employers. By offering proactive feedback, you make clear expectations that help employees feel supported. Make it a habit to communicate regularly on your employees’ performance and achievements.

Get to know each other

At the end of the day, we are all human—we’re all someone’s children, sibling, parent, spouse, colleague and friend. Create opportunities to connect on a personal level, like sharing fun facts about yourself and your teammates via an internal newsletter or intranet. Set up a program for employees to get to know each other by pairing them up randomly every week. Use your unified communications tools to enable virtual meeting spaces for teammates to meet up for a virtual water cooler chat.

Encourage self-improvement

Developing a growth mindset works in both individual and organizational favor. Encourage employees to develop their own personal skills—and give them opportunities to do so—and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. Coursera and other online learning platforms are great places to start, offering many free (or very affordable) online educational opportunities.

From the remote worker side, it’s about establishing boundaries

Work-life balance isn’t a fixed equation for a home-based worker—it’s more of a blend of both. One employee’s life may look very different from another’s. Flexibility, both from the employer and the employee, is key to making it work. If you’re a home-based worker, here are some practical tips inspired by Glassdoor to help you find the right balance. 

Start the day right

Before you open your laptop, take the time you need before the workday begins so that you can maximize success later on. A good way to start your day is with a healthy morning routine, such as exercising, meditating, reading or enjoying a nutritious breakfast. Try to avoid rolling out of bed in your pajamas to start working right away.

Designate a workspace

Set up a dedicated workspace in your home so you can create a consistent working environment. Got kids? Take your space when you can and communicate your time restraints and work schedules clearly and ahead of time, so everyone is aware of your workday needs—especially during video conference calls.

Organize your day

Establish a schedule that will guide you through the day and limit distractions. Silence your devices from non-essential notifications and create to-do lists so you can stay productive and meet your goals. Block specific periods of your workday in your calendar for deep work. Even with the increase in conference calls, it’s okay to carve out time in your day for productive tasks.

Take your lunch hour

Get creative during your lunch hour—it’s better for boosting productivity in the long run. Do some light stretching, take your dog for a long walk or catch up with a close friend.

Rest your eyes

Look away from the screens to rest your eyes from time to time. Experts recommend every 15 minutes or so.

Create a closing time ritual

Log off at the same time you would leave the office. Then take a minute to reflect on what you accomplished today—you made it!

How do you handle remote working?

Whether you’re running a remote team or a member of one, I’d love to know your thoughts—this is new territory for all of us! Connect with me at [email protected] through LinkedIn.

Key Takeaway
Trust and clearly established boundaries—plus patience and flexibility—go a long way toward making remote work actually work.

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