Wondering how to help your employees work from home? With the current global focus on social distancing, many firms are continuing remote working to prioritise the safety of their employees. As the UK government has strongly recommended that office-based workers work from home for the foreseeable future (if possible), this means that helping your team transition to working from home is now one of the most important considerations for senior managers and partners. To help your employees work from home, here are two steps that you need to take.
Step 1: Help your employees create a new daily structure for remote working
Remote working is incredibly different from working in the office, especially as you are likely to have a household at home with you. Whether that’s your housemates in a shared house arrangement or with your spouse and children. (Is it just me who is getting frustrated that their husband and children are borrowing their home workout equipment?) With different pressures and distractions, it’s imperative that you help your team members and juniors create a new daily structure or routine that works for them. To help them create a happier and healthier daily routine that allows them to work more productively, here are 4 steps that you need to introduce them to:
1) Outline the core of your routine (covering the main 4 foundational habits)
Explain to your team members that the core of their routine should be the minimum that they need to get done every day. It should also include the 4 foundations habits of wellbeing (e.g. good quality sleep, healthy food, regular exercise and time to recharge) as well as things that make them happy. An example of this is as follows:
- Work – they need to think about where will be best to work and what their hours will be.
- Family – they need to decide how and when they will spend quality time with their family.
- Food – they need to plan to eat healthily and stick to set mealtimes with the family.
- Self-care – they need to think about how they will make time for themselves, when they will exercise, and what time they will wake up etc.
2) Discuss your new daily routine with your spouse or family
Remind them to discuss their ideal daily structure with their spouse or family because if they don’t, this will inevitably cause strain at home. What works for them may not work for their family so it’s important for everyone to discuss and agree on what that structure will be. Once this is done, everyone will know when it’s work time and when it’s family time so there will be fewer distractions for them and their family won’t be left feeling neglected. It’s also important here to emphasise that you know it’s difficult for everyone juggling work and family life and that’s okay. If everyone has their routine and shares it with the team, then everyone has the right expectations and can work together better.
3) Try, test and adjust your new routine
One of the best ways to help your employees work from home is to be patient and empathetic while they transition. Creating a solid routine while working from home is all well and good, but like most things in life, the hardest part is actually doing it consistently. Show your team that you are understanding of their situation and allow them to adjust their routine to find what works best for them. For example, it could be working very early in the morning so that they can take care of their children in the day or vice versa. To help them establish positive habits, you could send out a tips sheet suggesting what makes a successful remote working routine. Tips such as:
- How to create a successful morning routine
- Why every day should start with getting washed and dressed
- The importance of setting and sticking to your office hours
- Why you should review your performance and the end of each day and plan for tomorrow
- Why ringing or video calling colleagues and clients is more effective now than just emailing
- How taking regular breaks and moving around often can make you more productive
- Ways to become more efficient
- Why rewarding yourself is essential when working from home
4) Focus on being consistent but be ready to adapt
Encouraging your team to be consistent with their routine is essential for productivity, but helping them adapt to change is necessary for growth. Things are constantly changing at the moment, so your team needs to be willing to adapt; they need to be resilient and flexible to make it through difficult times. To help your employees work from home during such a transient time, you need to help them with two very important things:
- To develop a solid daily structure and positive habits that will support their wellbeing, and;
- To develop a growth mindset so that they can respond to change with action rather than becoming paralysed by it.
Read: Effective ways to deal with an underperforming employee who is working remotely
Step 2: Stay connected and check-in with them regularly
To help your employees work from home, you can’t just give them the tools and then let them get on with it; a good leader monitors progress and gives individuals the level of support that they need along the way. At such a difficult time where tensions are high and the uncertainty is taking its toll, you will need to check in more than normal to see how your team is coping. To monitor your team’s wellbeing, here are some ways to stay connected so that you can check-in regularly:
1) Use communication apps and software
Staying connected to your team is absolutely essential when working remotely, but it is also crucial during this time as everyone is craving that all-important sense of community. Our social needs are by no means being met as they would be in the office environment, so it would be very beneficial for you to try and recreate this. Your firm has probably set up online communication tools like Microsoft Teams. But if it hasn’t Slack and Google Hangouts are among the best options. Not only do they help you maintain a productive means of work communication, but they also open up a direct channel for personal chit chat, emojis and gifs that make everyone feel a part of the team.
2) Maintain a regular meeting schedule
Holding regularly scheduled virtual team meetings will help your team maintain their new remote working routine. This adds that extra layer of structure when working from home and it also does wonders for group productivity. Why? Because discussing team goals and which tasks are assigned to who helps everyone take ownership of their work and it holds them accountable.
3) Be creative with collaboration
While communication and productivity are essential to success, how your team collaborates is the core ingredient for sustainable growth. Think of the best ways that your team can collaborate and share ideas while working from home and implement them. It has been shown that the best collaboration is born from interpersonal connections so try to fill this gap. While Microsoft Teams may be your primary means of work communication, try to introduce interest-based chat channels or special interest groups on Teams for employees who share common interests. You could even start a book club, join virtual exercise sessions as a group or end each day by checking in on everyone’s SMILE score.
4) Always be responsive and use the phone more often
To help your employees work from home, make sure that you lead by example and that you’re responsive to their needs. Some people will struggle more than others during this time so you need to make sure that you’re giving individuals the right type of support and reassurance. As many are craving social interaction, try to pick up the phone regularly just to check-in with your team. You can tell a lot more about how they really are from a phone call so it’s good practice to listen and make any necessary changes accordingly.
Why is this necessary?
It is your responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of your team. At the office, you’d make sure that they have the appropriate equipment and software and the right environment to be as comfortable and productive as possible, and it’s no different when they are working remotely. Working from home is a whole new ball game for people who haven’t done it before. It’s unfamiliar and can be distracting. With the uncertainty of the pandemic and having the whole family home whilst trying to work too, it is that much harder. So why is it necessary for you to help your employees create a new routine when working from home? A new routine:
- Provides them with structure and a sense of control.
- Gives them a sense of purpose and direction.
- Reduces stress and anxiety, as well as feelings of helplessness.
- Limits procrastination and increases efficiency.
- Increases motivation and productivity.
- Helps them create positive habits to carry them through difficult times.
By helping your employees create a new daily structure and staying connected with regular check-ins, you can have the confidence that your team is well and are working as productively at home as they would in the office. Wellbeing and productivity are symbiotic – it’s worth remembering that, especially now.