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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottyelton/
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