Work-From-Home Realities & Tips
The world has turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Suddenly, the workforce is faced with managing the business from a distance and having to cope with learning how to work-from-home (WFH). Forget the company handbook; businesses have taken matters into their own hands to protect their workforce and play a leading role in curtailing the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, corporate America has become a distributed workforce.
Considering team leaders have no insight into how long the 6-foot distance rule will be in place, it’s time to start planning how to motivate and maintain team productivity while working remotely.
The majority of employees find themselves in unfamiliar territory, working without their coworkers nearby and without the ability to speak across conference tables. Team leaders need to examine how to recreate the productive impromptu one-on-one conversations that engender strategic discussions, solve problems, and build teamwork.
For an onsite workforce to transition into a productive work-from-home (WFH) team, it’s imperative that leaders identify and replicate the subtle workplace elements that create a successful work environment.
The transition to a work-from-home state of mind will feel foreign to many. Working out of the house comes with new distractions like kids, dogs, spouses, and temptations like Netflix or long naps. At a time like this, production and efficiency are top of mind for any leader. The best thing a leader can do is instill trust and put the team in a position to be independently productive. First, ensure the team is equipped with the right tools to collaborate and stay organized in real-time. Next, breakdown organizational silos with weekly cross-functional video meetings to keep teams connected. Lastly, minimize obstacles to finding information scattered across the organization and cloud solutions. Employees no longer have the convenience to lean over to ask a teammate where something is stored.
- Digitile - Provides employees one place to search and tag files scattered across all their cloud solutions without disrupting the company's existing tech stack.
- Otter - Records, transcribes and stores inbound and outbound calls so no one has to frantically take notes manually.
Here’s a smart tip to automate organization for the entire team using Digitile with Otter. Digitile intelligently indexes every transcript alongside files stored across the team's shared files and folders so employees can put their fingers on the right information quickly. Dramatically reducing the 18 minutes, according to Gartner, it normally takes to track information down.
In an office, employees are accustomed to sharing information in person. Conversely, working remotely requires everything to be shared through written communications. Communication is one of the essential elements of a remote team. Most companies have adopted chat tools like Slack or Teams to carry on informal information exchanges with internal and external stakeholders. Interestingly, 86% of CEO’s believe company culture directly impacts productivity and collaboration. Leaders need to find ways to encourage collaboration while we’re in this awkward social distancing period.
- Miro - A SaaS whiteboard solution designed to help remote teams interactively collaborate in real-time as if they’re exchanging strategy ideas sitting around a conference table.
- Live Stream office hours - Team leaders should block a few hours weekly for drop-in discussions.
- Loom - Send a personalized Loom video rather than typing long status emails.
- Slack - Let the team create a vent channel to chat about their work-from-home frustrations like my kid won’t stop crying, the dog wants to play, or my neighbor's packages keep being delivered to my home.
Some say company culture is the spirit of the people brought together through communication, ideation, teamwork, collaboration, diversity, and flexibility up and down the ranks. Considering the situation forced upon corporate America, how do companies maintain the spirit of its people when they have been split apart and no longer experience the energy and movement they get when they step off the elevator or through the office front door? Here is a list of ideas to keep morale up and help the team feel connected while isolated.
- Incentives - Get everyone aligned towards achieving unified goals to award individual and team accomplishments. Employee engagement drives productivity. Consider bite-size incentives to keep morale up and encourage productivity. Here is a list of fun situational incentives to consider:
- 3 Months supply of toilet paper or hand sanitizer
- 30-day dog walking service
- 30-day Hello-Fresh lunches
- Bose headphones to cancel out dogs, kids, and spouses
- Contest - Take a tip from Shopify, who provided a $1,000 stipend to their employees to purchase home office supplies to ease the transition. Run a contest by offering an award for the most creative home office. Gamification promotes friendly competition, imparts a sense of belonging, and lets everyone have fun with a less than perfect situation.
- Organized Team Breaks - When we’re in the office, breaks happen instinctively in groups. While everyone's at home, stuck inside, organize and encourage team walk and talk meetings. Fresh air is useful for processing and gives people more energy.
- Team Lunch Reimagined - Working lunches don’t have to stop. Treat the team to lunch with Grubhub gift cards while meeting face to face through Google Hangout. Employees must be enthusiastic about what they are doing. One engaged employee can contribute a lot more to organizational productivity than ten disengaged employees.
- Team Building Experiences - Bring the team together by encouraging collaboration and teamwork through fun virtual activities.
Final thoughts on how to create a work-from-home environment during the COVID - 19 Shutdown
In this unprecedented WFH shift, companies and employees must embrace remote working and find a rhythm that keeps everyone on the same page. When employees have positive everyday experiences, they’re more engaged and more likely to do great work, be innovative, and be more productive.
Businesses have to address employee and customer needs in a fast-paced environment impacted by economic, political, social, and cultural shifts. Incorporate these practical ideas to weather the storm and show your team some corporate love!