Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), many companies have moved a portion of their workforce to remote employee status. It’s prudent, of course, but how’s that going?
According to a recent Atlantic article: “Right now, remote work isn’t working for most companies. That’s because we spent the last 120 years learning how people can be productive in an office.”
The reality is this; working from home isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Here are a few simple thoughts to keep in mind as you transition your workers to officing remotely:
Give them the tools to succeed at working from home.
Yes, remote employees need, at the very least, a computer with internet access. They may also need secured access to company servers and systems. While email, phone, and collaboration applications such as GoToMeeting, Skype, and Zoom can facilitate communication between employees working from home, keeping team members working as a team can still be challenging. While it’s important to frequently communicate deadlines and expectations, there’s more to communication than work.
Make sure they feel supported while working at home.
Technology is great, but humanity is better. Make certain that your remote employees feel supported, especially since they’re working at home to avoid a serious illness. It’s easy for team members to feel isolated when working from home. Don’t let that happen.
Regular updates – think of them more as conversations – can go a long way in helping workers who feel isolated know that they are not alone. Take the time to share experiences – not just work, but personal – and remind each other of the guidelines that you should all be following to stay safe.
Tips from our team on working at home
The Swift Bunny team has always been a virtual one. In fact, some of us have been working remotely for 15 years or more. Here are some pointers from our team members that make remote working work well for us.
Terie McHale and Kara Rice like to start each workday with a quick call over coffee to get their day organized together; it’s not that different than if their desks were side-by-side. Because they live in the same city, about once a week they meet in person for breakfast and brainstorming. (In this time of “social distancing”, the breakfast meetings are unfortunately on hold for now.)
Melissa Garland says having an instant messenger platform makes her feel connected to her co-workers. “I like being able to see who’s ‘on green’ (meaning, at their desk and available to chat),” says Melissa. “Also, doing video meetings helps. It’s not necessary to keep cameras on for long conference calls, but sometimes we turn them on just for the initial greeting to say hello to each other.”
Doug Miller may work independently at home, but he’s a social guy. Face-to-face interaction feeds his soul. To keep from feeling isolated, Doug makes a point of stepping out of his home office at least once per day. In normal times, this means a trip to the neighborhood café for lunch or coffee. These days, he makes do with walking his dogs and waving to neighbors across the street.
Tammy Chivers Baker says a hazard of officing at home is you may find yourself forgetting to stop working. Says Tammy, “Don’t forget to step away from the computer! Not moving from your desk for hours on end is not healthy for you. Stand, walk outside, stretch, and grab a healthy snack! Set an alarm to remind you to do this if you need to.”
Jen Piccotti points out, “Working from home shouldn’t equate to working ALL of the hours that you are at home. Establish some working hours so that your family knows in general what to expect. Pace yourself. Give yourself permission to end your workday for the evening. Just because you CAN access your email at all times doesn’t mean you should or that you NEED to.”
Tiffany Tamminen agrees with Tammy and Jen. Says Tiffany, “Set boundaries. Just because you are now working from home vs. your office, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should pull all-nighters. Don’t forget to stand up, get some air, take a walk, get your blood pumping, and find time to exercise. We’re all working our minds in overdrive right now. Don’t forget to work your body and soul, too.”
Transitioning workers from on-site to virtual can be challenging, especially when working remotely is something new to all concerned. It’s important to remember that these are emotionally difficult times, and the isolation that most remote workers feel under ordinary circumstances is now increased exponentially. Remain (virtually) close to your co-workers and assure them that they have your support. Do this, the work will follow, and our teams will emerge from this crisis stronger than we were before.
Keep the faith. These are extraordinary days, but we’ll get through these challenges together.