We’re in unprecedented times around the world, seeing unforeseen shifts in society that are impacting us all. For many, the sudden shift into working from home has been disruptive to both our work and personal lives.
With a longstanding belief in the benefits of working from anywhere, we’ve put together this guide to help managers, employees and companies who are new to remote working to adapt and succeed in this environment.
Use these tips and pieces of practical advice, compiled by our own remote workers, to help you keep engaged, productive and healthy in your new home office.
For organizations that aren’t used to having dispersed teams, it can be a major disruption. Here are the things you need to think about at a company level to successfully manage distributed virtual organizations.
Make sure it comes from the top. Remote working brings about a lot of change, and needs to be bought into and practiced by both the CEO and the C-Suite. Make sure your executives are getting the right coaching and leading by example.
Enable teams with a digital and fully virtual workspace. Designate productivity, meeting and collaboration applications with your IT teams. With a cloud foundation in place and a closely monitored network, make sure that teams can access shared files and storage, as well as workflow management tools, and communications platforms.
Set up your technology tools. In addition to having software and digital platforms, make sure your employees have professional audio and video devices to connect with their colleagues, and any other hardware to effectively communicate from home.
Mandate a video-first culture. Turning on video in a home space can be daunting, and often no one wants to be the first. Video accelerates trust and communication and allows for shorter meeting times, and with background blur or customization options, employees can feel comfortable controlling whether their dogs, children or artwork make the final cut in a team meeting.
Convert implicit information efficiently to explicit knowledge in virtual teams. Often, a lot of the information that forms the foundation of fluid day-to-day operations is unspoken or implicit, and learned in an office environment. Create a guide to these unspoken social codes that blankets all employees.
With digital workspaces and systems in place from your company, create a framework of clear communication and best practices for your team to help them manage their time and your expectations of them.
Always lead by example and setup feedback loops to identify areas for improvement. You can model behavior, reinforce habits and make your team feel comfortable in these times of uncertainty.
Check in with individual reports and find out how they are adjusting. Make sure you understand their individual challenges in the adaptation process and factor in their personal situations when managing performance and outcomes.
Create a short 10-15-minute video call at the beginning of every day, with each remote worker. If you manage a large team, you can host a 20-minute standup with the whole team. Not only does it keep daily communication in place, it also indicates the start of each workday and instils a work mentality.
Set communication behaviors within your team, to ensure trust and a sense of equal footing and removing in-group or out-group dynamics. Your company has given you the tools, but a manager must establish best practice and usage expectations.
Avoid micromanaging, and rather focus on monitoring and managing results. Online presence is not an indicator of productivity, and you will need to trust your team to manage their time effectively to deliver the outcomes you’ve set.
Make sure that shared team files and folders are accessible for all remote employees, and that working documents are always up to date. Sharing links to cloud-based files makes sure everyone is working on the latest version.
Share your calendar and availability so that people are aware of you schedule, and when they can or can’t reach you.
Creating a home office can be a big change, and you need to find somewhere comfortable, secure and distraction free. Here are six essentials for setting up your workspace and staying productive from home.
Establish a designated work area. This might not be a separate room, but define your workspace and make it as free of distraction as possible, away from noise and clutter. Try and find somewhere with natural lighting, good ventilation and an ergonomic work surface.
Create habits that establish your workday. It’s easy to start working in your pyjamas without eating breakfast, but showering and putting clothes on will mentally gear you towards your workday and establishes healthy routines.
Set up your virtual workspace. Whether it’s internet providers, communications software or having professional audio that works with Teams, Zoom or other video and communications platforms, a technology ecosystem that works will be key to enabling your communication and collaboration.
Keep on communicating. Without a physical presence, and with changing daily habits and routines, it becomes more important to find new ways to communicate with your colleagues. You can set a status or let team members know via Slack, Teams or email when they can or can’t reach you.
Look after your health. It often feels like it’s never the right time to take a break and even though remote work can help with your work life balance, it can also make it hard to disconnect. Maintain structure in your days and make sure to build in breaks.
Set guidelines with your family and your work. Establish clear boundaries with work to make sure that you are not “always on” and have a clear workday switch with work and home intent clearly mapped out.
Over 67% of remote workers are interrupted or talked over in meeting online meetings, which can be a tricky environment to navigate without the in-room communication that happens face to face. Here are four tips for hosting successful and inclusive team meetings on a virtual collaboration platform:
Turn on video to make sure you are present and respectful. Video humanises virtual collaboration and allows for more communicative and fluid virtual meetings.
Pause frequently for any questions or feedback. Allow others to be heard and try to avoid interruptions.
If you’re not involved in the dialogue, it is often best to mute yourself to avoid any distracting background audio from your surroundings.
Monitor meeting chats to address points or post questions that come up without interrupting others who might be speaking.
Remote workers tend to feel isolated, which can manifest itself as loneliness, but also have more destructive effects, such as a loss of sense of identification within an organization that leads to disengagement. Managers and team leads must think about how they bring their teams together beyond task-related work, in social ways.
It is essential to do non work-related activities to bring these teams together. Here are three initiatives you could take to bring your team together:
There are no interruptions moving between virtual video meetings. Besides the flexibility that they offer if you’re working remotely, in-person team reporting can be very time consuming because it’s so easy to catch people in the corridor. While that offers vibrant and less formal opportunities, it also kills a lot of time.
There is greater productivity with virtual meetings because when a meeting is in your calendar that you attend, it’s more efficient and there are usually greater business outcomes from a set agenda.
Video also accelerates business communication and offers an in-person experience, making sure participants are present, switched on and pay attention to what is in the room.
Virtual meetings offer a better work life balance, because they make you more mindful about how long meetings are and what is urgent, which frees up time for you to be more present and available to colleagues or family.
Active noise cancellation and all-day comfort combine with HD voice and compatibility across all major communications platforms to keep you connected and focused from your home office.
Three-microphone technology creates a unique talk zone that makes sure you’re heard while other nearby voices are filtered out, while active noise cancellation fuels your concentration and smart controls give you easy access to your calls and music.
14 hours of battery and an extended wireless range give you the freedom to leave your desk while on a call. The passive noise cancellation helps keep distractions at bay, while an integrated busy light lets people know when you’re on a call
Hear and be heard with best-in-class performance for your work calls, even when you’re on the go. 4-microphone call technology offers effective wind noise reduction on your work calls, while HearThrough lets you block out or let in ambient noise. Simply connect to your smartphone and enjoy the ultimate mobile productivity.
An omni-directional microphone with 360-degree pick-up allows you to be heard from anywhere in your workspace, while the portable design gives you the flexibility to take calls anywhere.