“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
George Bernard Shaw
Managing remotely or working from home
The news is full of companies enforcing home working as we all get to grips with the changing business landscape in the throes of the Coronavirus.
Our team have worked remotely successfully for over 20 years. We have never shared office space. For those of you who suddenly find yourself having no choice but to work or manage from home here are our top tips:
1. Your work space: You will by now have identified a dedicated work area hopefully as free from distraction as is possible. In the days of home schooling this is proving very difficult for many of you. But you really don’t need a bad back on top of all this juggling so do pay close attention to seating and posture or better still, set up a standing desk if you can.
2. Setting boundaries: important for you and your family/housemates. Schedule breaks, take lunch and move away from your screen regularly. Set ground rules with others so they know your routine and when you can be interrupted.
3. Maintaining motivation: Keep your routine as if working in an office. By now you may have had at least a week working remotely. Make the most of saved commute time. Purpose, Play and Passion all have a role to play in motivation; how are you nourishing each of these areas for yourself and where do you need support? Keeping focus and motivation when working alone at home takes energy and effort. Everyday.
4. Keep a business focus: is your normal workload continuing? For many this is not the case. There are more distractions at home and in the current times you may also need to work around others e.g. schools closed. Plan this and check in regularly with your manager/ team to ensure good communications. Stay close to your customer. They are likely to be experiencing the same as you right now.
5. Be connected: be in contact with colleagues regularly with the camera on. Not just for you, for them too. This also forces to get out of your PJ’s, which is important. There are many conversations in an office that are not planned and great things come of them. Create those moments by instigating regular ‘just because’ calls or virtual coffee moments.
MANAGING A REMOTE TEAM
There will be a learning curve for you all but studies show that productivity can go up when working from home. Here are some tips to increase the chances of that.
1. Trust: this lies at the centre of remote working. Our mantra is “Assume Good Intent”. When you do this with each other it pays back in dividends.
2. Collaboration: do this early on and agree some ground rules together for working remotely. A daily tune in with your team could work well particularly in the early days. Set up a collaboration channel like Slack to share ideas.
3. Maintain connection: Make sure all the team are connected and stay connected. You will have to work at this every day. Keeping the team in touch and feeling part of something is even more important now. Do not let isolation and loneliness set in – it can creep up like cold and be very damaging to confidence! Build a remote buddy system from the start so the team are looking out for each other too.
4. Performance expectations: Understand what is possible and be clear about your expectations during this period; being output focused is likely to be more beneficial than being process focussed. The work output may need to be adapted. What might your team need to Stop, Start, Continue because of this ‘new’ business environment? What new opportunities could there be? Think creatively and innovate.
5. Be available: Different people need different support. Some may self-manage and adapt to remote working more easily than others. It may not always be obvious to them or you when things go amiss. If they start to react differently be mindful to this. Don’t forget yourself in this process and that you might need support too.
We are all in unknown territory right across the globe so it is all the more important to be ready for what might come next for you and your business. Plan calmly while you can and support each other throughout.
And if you and your business do go down the remote working route then be prepared for it to become the expectation for the future, this Gallup research shows 54% of US workers would switch jobs for the choice to work remotely.
Reach out if you need support and I’d love to know your ideas for working remotely.
Jane Court, Business Director