October 01, 2020 | Scott Yelton

A dozen ways to make working from home better

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Scott Yelton, Senior Director of Product Management

Scott Yelton

Scott is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for our leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telco industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both EarthLink and Deltacom
Summary: 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 social experiments go, you couldn’t find one farther-reaching or more impactful than the current global pandemic. Everything—how we interact with each other, how we work, how we shop, how we live—is being re-examined and re-considered within the context of COVID-19. Assuming most, if not all, of your employees are still working from home, they need to be productive and serve your customers. While social scientists like economists, psychologists and sociologists will have a field day with all the data they’ll take away from this historic experience, here are some remote work lessons we can apply today, over six months into the pandemic.

Smarter Campus Networks

From the employer side, it’s about establishing trust

For many enterprises, the seismic 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 heartily agree with HBR’s assessment. In that spirit of mutual respect between the organization and its employees, here are some tips from Buffer we’d like to share for keeping morale up for home-based workers and establishing trust.

Practice transparency

According to a study by Elsevier, a leader’s level of positivity and transparency directly impacts the employee’s trust of that leader. That’s why being transparent about business developments as they unfold is crucial 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.

Set goals, not tasks

Many managers tend to micro-manage employees by focusing on tasks and hours spent working instead of goals. Instead, foster a results-oriented culture that focuses on what people do. Set goals and accountability by team and use weekly status check-ins to track progress.

Allow for flexibility in work hours

Most people working from home—especially parents of school-aged children—are dealing with massive changes in their work and personal lives. Allowing people to work on their own timelines where possible will make your employees more productive and reduce overall stress.

Get to know each other

Share fun facts about teammates via your internal newsletter or intranet. Start a program where an employee gets paired up in weekly calls with someone randomly chosen from within the company. And use your unified communications tools to set up virtual meeting spaces, where teammates can meet up for a virtual watercooler chat. 

Encourage self-improvement

C-level executives are talking a lot about developing a growth mindset these days because it works in everyone’s favor, both organizationally and individually. By encouraging employees to commit to their own personal growth—and giving them opportunities to develop these skills—you’ll see big dividends later on. Many online educational opportunities are available for free, or at a very affordable price, from Coursera and other online learning venues.

Allow vulnerability

These are trying times. We’re all experiencing unusual amounts of stress; millennials in particular report having mental health issues. What’s more, COVID-19 has disproportionately increased the time women in the U.S. spend on family responsibilities by an estimated 1.5 to 2 hours, leading them to drop out of the workforce at a higher rate.1 So be willing to lend an ear. And don’t be afraid to show vulnerability yourself.

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

For a home-based worker, work-life balance isn’t a fixed equation, it’s more of a blend of both. Depending on whether they’re single, married or have children, life for one employee can look very different from another. 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 starts to maximize success later in the day. Develop a healthy morning routine: go for a run, meditate, or do an online exercise class then have a good breakfast. Try not to roll out of bed to start working right away.

Designate a workspace

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

Schedule your day

Set a schedule for yourself to guide you through the day and limit distractions—turn off your devices if you have to. And create to-do lists to ensure that you’re being productive and meeting your goals.  Block specific periods of your workday in your calendar for deep work. Even with the increase in conference calls, you need 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, do a yoga flow, eat something healthy or call a close friend.

Rest your eyes

Get up and stretch or take a short walk to rest your eyes from your computer screen. 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 scott.yelton@windstream.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottyelton/


Key takeaway: Trust and clearly established boundaries—plus patience, good faith and flexibility—go a long way to making remote work actually work.
Senior Director of Product Management

Scott Yelton

Scott is responsible for management of growth and lifecycle for our leading UCaaS solution. He has over 21 years of experience in the telco industry. Prior to Windstream, Scott was the Director of Product Development and Strategy for both EarthLink and Deltacom