As a team leader, having to work from home may seem harder than walking a tightrope blindfolded. Keeping everyone on the same page presents new challenges, and maintaining productivity becomes a feat. However, there are a few ways you can help smooth the transition from the cubicle to the living room for you and your employees.
Define Your Communication Platforms
When your whole team is working from home, the where’s and how’s of communication become complicated. One of the biggest questions your employees will face is this: How should I send this message? Email? Group Text? Phone call? Carrier Pigeon? To maintain order, right out of the gate, you’ll need to define how you’re using your communication platforms.
If you currently only use email for the majority of messaging, be wary. Logging into a remote job and looking at a packed inbox can be daunting for your employees. Using a messaging board for quick questions and comments will help mediate the email pile-up. And, finding your favorite application for file-sharing will increase efficiency and organization. So, before your employees decide to put a note in a bottle and throw it into the sea, let them know what communication platforms you’re using, and how you’re using each platform.
Have a Home Office Space
Humans are great at creating spatial associations. Maybe you’ve heard that common piece of advice to avoid eating or working from your bed. The idea behind this advice is that, to sleep well, you need a space that your body associates only with sleep. The same basic rule should apply to your workspace: you need an area that you can associate exclusively with work.
Moreover, having office space at home will help you avoid distractions and maintain professionalism while video calling coworkers and clients. So, even if your office space is just your favorite couch with a blank wall behind it, find an area that you can devote to work.
Encourage Employee Interaction
When working remotely, it’s easy to forget that you’re part of a team. Daily tasks can start to feel like group projects gone wrong when you can’t physically see others doing their part. That’s why encouraging interaction among your employees is crucial for team morale.
This is also where having defined communication platforms for your employees comes back into play. Let them know that they can set up video chats, group messages, calls, or emails without you mediating. Giving them the best tools to work with each other will help bring a human touch to a digital working environment.
Set Frequent Deadlines
By far, the hardest part of working from home is adhering to deadlines. With more hour flexibility and less in-person accountability, procrastinating projects becomes easier than ever. One way you can help your team keep productivity up is by setting frequent deadlines. Having check-in points for projects will keep things running smoothly.
The true challenge here is walking the line between necessary oversight and micromanagement. Ask yourself, “Will my staff consider this action encouraging and necessary or overbearing?” If the answer is ever, “overbearing,” then it’s time to take a step back and trust in your employees’ ability to self-manage.
Create “On-Call” or “Online” Hours
When working from home, it’s easy to let your work-life balance slip. Allowing your job to intrude on personal time, or vice versa, is unhealthy and may impair your productivity. One important way to combat this problem is by creating “on-call” or “online” hours for you and your team. These would be the hours you expect staff members to be logged in and available by phone or email.
Of course, these on-call hours can be flexible. No need to test-call your employees to see if they’ve devoted all their attention to their phones and computers! Rather, on-call hours are a useful guide for when to contact coworkers to collaborate on projects. And, they create boundaries between work-time and you-time.
Make Short, Frequent Breaks Obligatory
Even if you’re stressed about working with a remote team, chaining yourself to your desk would be a mistake. Think about all the breaks you would normally take to scroll social media, visit the water cooler, or chat with a coworker. Use that same amount of time to step back from your screen and recoup.
There are a few ways you can remember to parcel out your breaks. One is to take a quick walk around the block whenever you switch tasks. Or, you could set a timer and commit to five minutes of stretching for every hour and a half of online time. However you decided to divvy up your intermissions, remember to be consistent about giving yourself time to breathe.
Above all, the greatest way to let your team know that you’re in this together is by having empathy. Working from home is going to present new challenges for everyone involved. Deadlines will be forgotten, computers will crash, and children and pets will have a party in the background of your video chat. Being flexible and forgiving with your team members will go a long way as everyone adjusts to working remotely.
Managing an on-ground team from behind a computer screen? StaffFoxTM is here to help! Reach out to our customer success team for schedule consultation.