The COVID-19 epidemic has forced businesses to close their offices, meaning that those lucky enough to continue working, must do so from home. To prevent any of your employees from feeling lost, constructing a plan for this new normal can ensure your business’ workflow does not decrease. Now, you must focus on the things within your control and ensure that you and your fellow employees have the resources they need to be successful. Throughout this guide, you will find the different aspects that come with working remotely, how best to guide your team through this transition, and how to work remotely effectively.
Myths about Remote Workers
Myth #1: Remote Workers Need To Prove They Work
In a traditional workplace, it is much easier for you (or your boss) to check on employees to find out if they are working and what they are working on. However, in a remote working environment, this is deemed almost impossible. As a result, many people believe that remote workers need to prove that they are working. This myth can lead to the inability to focus on major projects that call for separation and concentration, while also making it difficult to develop a proper work-life balance. Remote workers are the same as regular workers. They work the same number of hours and receive the same amount of work. You should set aside some time in your calendar for deep work, without distractions, by letting your coworkers know you won’t be available during that time. If you feel the need to prove you are working, allow the outputs of your work to verify that you can still meet daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
Myth #2: Remote Workers Are Available All Day
Many people assume that if you work remotely, then you are available all of the time. Since you get to spend the majority of your time at home, then it is okay to assume you are available to work or respond to messages outside of traditional working hours. However, this myth can lead to remote workers feeling like they need to spend more time working than they should. As a remote worker, you must set aside office hours as if you were going to the office every day. These hours may be different than the traditional 9-5, but they must be established and communicated to your fellow employees. Be sure to take the daily lunch break you need and try your best not to respond to messages outside of those hours. Unless, of course, there is an emergency! Luckily, there are remote employee time tracking services that you can implement to streamline this process.
Tips for Leaders
According to Owl Labs 2019 State of Remote Work report, remote workers are not only happier at work, but they are 13% more likely to stay at their current job for the next five years as compared to onsite workers. Additionally, a recent Global Workplace Analytics survey found that a full 53% of remote workers reported they were likely to work overtime. What does this mean? Well, it means that your business can significantly benefit from your work becoming remote, and ultimately lead to higher productivity overall. Below you will find tips for leaders while working remotely:
Individualization is key.
You must figure out the conditions in which team members work best. Managers need to individualize each person to get the best performance out of them. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work in the long run.
Set expectations early and clearly.
Managers must set expectations and make them clear for their employees: X is what you should do, Y is the quality standard, Z is the deadline. Provide higher expectations based on your company’s purpose: we’ll satisfy our customers doing X, maintain our standards by doing Y, and fulfill our mission by doing Z.
Be sure to plan for numerous conference calls, video calls, etc. Incorporating socializing into the agenda is okay and could be vital for employees who need interaction. You must be diligent about communicating productively by having the right online tools that allow for collaboration. With economic fears worsening, you must keep lines of communication open and be honest with all managers and employees.
Support your managers.
With such a sudden change in workplace practices, managers may worry about potential disruptions to the workflow for which they are responsible. During this tough transition you must give them your support both practically and emotionally. Invest in the development of management and be affirming about this situation and understand the reasoning behind altered deadlines.
How to Succeed as a Remote Worker
Times are changing rapidly for employees across the globe, and this may worrisome for you. Many employees feel as though they will not be able to work as well at home compared to working in an office. The most important mindset you can have now is to stay positive and know that your strengths as an employee extend far past the office you are used to working in every day. Here are some tips for creating a comfortable and productive remote working environment:
Experiment with your work setup.
With so much flexibility as a remote worker, you must figure out how you work best. Test a variety of work setups, including where you work, what times you work, and what you wear while working. Don’t be afraid to change it up because the last thing you want is to get burnt out or bored with your work.
Create work boundaries.
As a remote worker, you must implement boundaries between your work and your personal life. If you don’t, you may end up working too excessively and feel burnt out after a short period. Here are some elements you should keep in mind and implement: establish clear office hours, create a dedicated workspace, and turn off notifications while not working.
Prepare for meetings.
Your company should be utilizing a video meeting platform, as chat can only go so far. Be sure to understand what the meeting will cover and have your necessary talking points ready. Make sure your camera and microphone are set up correctly, take notes, and focus on the meeting or call exclusively.
Create accountability for yourself.
There will be times when you find yourself off task; you must be able to recognize this to ensure you stay on track. Set time blocks for tasks you must accomplish, use your calendar to set times for calls, meetings, and project work, and commit publicly when you have a task to accomplish by messaging your company chat with details about the project you are working on and how long it will take you.
Be visible at work.
Be sure to let your team know your availability. If your team knows what you are working on, then you are more likely to get it done on time. This will also make it easier for your managers to assign you new tasks, know when you’re currently busy, and know if you are available to talk/meet.
Communicate clearly and effectively.
As a remote worker, you need to make sure you are communicating with your team to ensure everybody is on the same page and has the information they need. Your company should use communication tools that allow for collaboration, communication, and task-setting such as Microsoft Teams, Monday.com, Slack, Basecamp, etc.
Work on your health.
Focus on building routines for yourself that include both work and health. Be sure to make time during your day to go out for a walk, workout, meditate, or do yoga. Doing so can help you think more creatively and lead to you working harder once you get back to work. Also, be sure to stay hydrated. It is easy to get caught up in your work and then realize you haven’t had anything to drink or eat in several hours. A few other ideas to keep in mind: meditation can help mindfulness, eat lunch away from your desk, eat nutritious food, walk around every hour, and take short, frequent breaks to get away from your desk.
During times like these, we must come together, stay positive, and do our part to ensure things go back to normal as quickly as possible. The transition to remote work is not easy for businesses or employees, especially with such short notice. Keep your head up and know that within a short period of time, you will be back to your usual task accomplishing self. With the right tools implemented by your company, you will quickly overcome communication and collaboration barriers. Leaders, you must keep an open line of communication with your employees and give them and yourself time to adjust to this changing dynamic. If you find yourself still having questions, don’t be afraid to continue experimenting with how you work remotely; that way, you can find the ways in which you work best!