Helping home workers be more productive
Working from home presents a range of challenges for Staff, from dealing with interruptions, juggling multiple home and family obligations, to missing a sense of community and belonging.
It is also stressful for People Leaders, who are unfamiliar with managing Staff remotely and still require their teams to remain productive and accountable. There are many things People Leaders can do to help and support – here are our top three tips:
Set clear guidelines and expectations: Discuss and set clear, reasonable expectations around deliverables to help Staff prioritize and focus and provide greater flexibility around the number and timing of hours you expect them to work. Guidelines could include agreements around daily working schedules that visibly show (in calendars) which hours they will be available, and agreement on common team hours when meetings can be hosted. Signal that you are open to re-contract on deliverables and deadlines as the situation evolves to drive greater self-accountability and build trust.
Help with technology: Staff need to not only have access to technology to support remote working but also need to know how to use it. Provide several different communication technology options and know that email alone is insufficient. Richer communication tools such as video conferencing and collaboration tools are essential (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack). Don’t assume all Staff are comfortable knowing how to use the technology available – even if it has been in place for a while. Consult with your IT department to ensure there is an appropriate level of data security.
Research from the University of California found that a key factor to the success of remote working is the use of technologies and the necessary infrastructure to support communication, coordination, and the sharing of data/knowledge. Unfortunately, the same research also showed that organizations and employees tended to use only the technologies they were used to, such as email. This meant they missed the opportunities afforded by other technologies (like shared documents and calendars, standardized repositories for shared data, etc.) and failed to support rich enough communication technologies when they are most needed.
Create new routines that focus on wellbeing for improved productivity: Staff will need support in developing new, positive routines that focus on their wellbeing. Encourage Staff to use commitment mechanisms that help them hold themselves to account for better daily habits. For instance, repurposing commuting time to take an online exercise class, or agreeing to have virtual lunch or coffee breaks together as a team. Recommend they add calendar reminders at the end of the day to ensure they wrap up their work and draw a clear line between home and work time. Agree black-out times for sending and receiving emails from you (7pm to 7am), so they have permission to switch off.