During this challenging time, employees are now being asked to work from home. Here’s a list of tips that can help both employers and employees be more productive when working remotely.
TIPS FOR SUPERVISORS WHO MANAGE REMOTE WORKERS
- Profiles of successful employees who work remotely have the following attributes: are proactive and self-initiating by nature, are project-driven and comfortable working alone- but know how to communicate regularly to a supervisor or team.
- Remote employees work best when there are deliverable deadlines to keep everyone focused and on task.
- Managers must communicate well and often with the remote worker. It is recommended to set up weekly check-ins to prevent isolation and to create a workflow rhythm.
- Both employer and employee should utilize video chat platforms so that it becomes second nature to all involved.
EQUIPMENT & SOFTWARE
If teleworking is required—meaning there is no choice due to a community health crisis, employers may be financially responsible for providing the proper equipment to enable an employee to work remotely.
- Employees will need to have a good, adjustable chair, or a stand-up desk to help with comfort and ergonomics.
- Besides the required computer equipment for remote connections, employees may want to install flexible monitor arms, touchscreens, wireless keyboards, and a mouse.
- Provide employees with sound-blocking earplugs or earmuffs which protect against chaotic households and helps when employees need to concentrate.
- Set up video conferencing software and tools before meetings. Employees must make sure to arrange for no interruptions during the conference—remember that European ambassador who was interrupted by his toddler? There’s no guarantee your company or client will be that understanding.
- Remind employees to turn off all the unnecessary notifications on their phone to avoid interruptions when conferencing, including buzzing microwaves, doorbells, and timer bells.
- Emergency connectedness/backup work: Set up a local NAS for shared files and backups. Employees must factor in a REGULARLY SCHEDULED back up of their work to the cloud. Have a VPN for those days, which is also essential if your local network connection goes out. If your local ISP is down and employees are on a deadline, everyone will want to know what location to travel to that has Wi-Fi and bandwidth.
EMPLOYEE TIPS FOR BETTER HOME WORK ENVIRONMENTS
- Set up each workday like a day in the office. Organize days with recurring tasks and set up a weekly calendar of tasks. Example: On Mondays, do X, Tuesdays do Y, Wednesdays do Z, etc. A Task calendar allows employees to stay on point, and to easily compile a work report quickly, if a work log is needed to be given to a supervisor.
- Even with a daily task list, workers need to be prepared to change their priorities at the drop of a hat. Working from home is still an unpredictable environment. Employees may need to move to another remote location, or change working hours due to home emergencies, or other unforeseen events. Having a project list allows employees to be flexible and remain productive, regardless of circumstances.
- Schedule breaks – publish these along with the work schedule so that unexpected calls from the home office won’t go unanswered. Getting up and moving around helps improve mind functioning and avoids eye fatigue —such as lunch, coffee breaks, and walks outside.
- Maintain a weekly check-in schedule with co-workers to keep the employee’s face familiar, personal connections fresh, and to combat isolation. Employees who work remotely often report feeling isolated, out of the loop, or begin to crave human interaction. The biggest downside to working remotely is that employees miss out on the impromptu encounters and conversations, which encourages team bonding.
- If working from home, caution the employee to avoid working in the home “workspace” in pajamas. YouTube is full of hilarious, but embarrassing videos of workers accidentally being filmed in less-than-professional garb while facetiming a conference call from home!
- When possible, encourage the employee to find a dedicated workspace room with a door that can shut out distractions.
- Help the employee set work-time boundaries with housemates: be it kids, partner, or roommates. Just because employees work from home doesn’t mean their always available to run errands, watch a sick kid, or wait for the plumber.
- Avoid working in the kitchen and/or dining room if possible. These are environments that attract spills, lost papers, curious children, and pets that are hypnotically drawn to a computer on the kitchen table.
- If an employee moves between computers throughout the workday, try to keep things in sync with services like Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, and other cloud storage services. That way, whatever the employee is working on, or wherever they are working, the content is available anytime and everywhere.