Mar 23, 2020
Best Practices for Working from Home
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted everyone in our industry and our community. As social distancing and an abundance of caution prevail, most offices and staff are working from home. While there are distinct safety advantages to this new lifestyle, this also presents an opportunity for teams and leaders to think about how to be productive working at home and continuing to strengthen a strong team dynamic.
Individual Tips and Best Practices
Establishing a routine is critical to maintaining continuity, both mentally and physically, and will prepare you to be productive and motivated.
- Create a schedule - Wake up at the same time you would when you would typically go into the office.
- Establish the same working hours that you normally would and make sure that you communicate your working hours to your team, so they know what to expect.
- Prepare for the day - Take a shower and get dressed like you will be in the office and are preparing for an in-person meeting to flip on the mental switch and get you ready for the day.
- (Yes, you need to wear pants - no pajama bottoms!)
- Build-in breaks - Remember to eat on a regular schedule, get up and go outside to stretch, and reach out to a colleague to connect. Emulate all the things you would do in the office but do it at home.
- Get outside – Go for a walk, exercise at lunch, or enjoy a coffee outdoors to break up your day. It will keep you motivated and on point.
- Hold Yourself Accountable – Keep a daily list of what you want to accomplish and make an intentional effort to share projects with your peers, just like you would in-person.
- Tackle Projects – This is an excellent time to take on projects that you hadn't had time to tackle. Roll up your sleeves and keep busy!
- Distractions Will Happen – It's OK; you may have kids at home, a dog barking, or an Amazon delivery…these are unavoidable, so give yourself a break.
Team Tips and Best Practices
- Establish a Cadence of Communication - As goes communication, so goes the team, and this is especially important with a remote team.
- Set Expectations and Maintain Response Times - Emails should be responded to within the same timeframe as to when working in the office. Phone calls should be considered urgent and should be answered or returned as soon as possible.
- Employees should notify their team members when these expectations cannot be met (e.g., in a meeting, at an appointment, out on PTO).
- The manager should let their team know how best to communicate this (e.g., team email, shared calendar)
- Establish a Video-First Culture - "Video-first" is an organizational communication strategy that places a priority on video conferencing tools, as opposed to audio-only conference calls. Whether having a one-on-one meeting or a team meeting, the benefits of the video-first practice include:
- Ability to use and observe non-verbal communication
- Encourages employees to participate in meetings from a professional, quiet location (as opposed to just dialing-in-and-muting while driving in the car)
- Encourages employees to get dressed in the morning, be professional, and stay motivated!
- There are many great tools for this, Zoom, for many person meetings, Slack video calls for one-on-one discussions, Facetime, BlueJeans, and GoToMeeting, to name a few.
- Over Communicate - Lean into these video tools and make an intentional effort to over communicate with your teammates. When in doubt, reach out! It will pay off and keep your team connected. Remember to pay attention as if you are sitting in the room physically. It will take away from the point of the video if you are multitasking while conferencing with your teammates.
Although this might be new for many of you, several people and many industries work from home all the time. Following these best practices, keeping a positive attitude and motivated mindset will help both you and your team stay productive. And lastly, try not to spend too much time on social media and get stuck in the vortex of media hysteria. One thing is for sure, this too shall pass.