By Stephen Tweed
No doubt, all of you and your office team members are working from home. For you as an owner, CEO, or leader, you may be comfortable working from home. For your office team members this may be brand new.
Here are a few tips to make it easier for your team members to stay focused, be more productive, and be accountable.
How are you doing?
I’d suggest a one-on-one phone or Zoom video conference with each person.
Start calls asking about what’s going on in their lives. Connection between you and your colleagues needs focus when the staff is dispersed. Conversations that would normally take place when staff pop into each other’s workspace won’t happen and those interactions will be missed. Find out about their family members and how they are adjusting to being safe at home.
Those conversations may be a catalyst to help your team work well together. Your staff may be feeling very isolated and will need caring human engagement.
What is your planned daily schedule?
Staff are used to the accountability of an arrival and a departure time and a work-centered environment. Organizing the day and staying focused on work may require some new learning.
Encourage the staff to keep the regular morning routine including getting dressed for work. Wearing pajamas during the workday blurs the line between work life and home life.
Ask: What times work well for you for team meetings? When teams are working remotely, check-in meetings are more important than ever. Before sending out group calendar invitations, consider staff preferences.
Be sure to also ask: When might you have flexibility in your planned schedule should a need arrive to call outside of your preferred times?
How are you setting up your work space?
Having a dedicated work space will help maintain boundaries between work life and home life. Encourage your staff to duplicate the office work space as much as possible in their home telecommuting environment. Doing so will help facilitate productivity.
How are you minimizing distractions to your workday?
By far, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to telecommuting is finding ways to limit distractions. While having a set schedule and a designated work space can help create and maintain boundaries, one client found the need to place a message on the home work space door stating “Do Note Enter. Meeting in Progress” to eliminate the “Are you busy right now?” asks from children and spouse.
What do you play in the background to help you work?
For some people, the quieter the better. I am in that camp. I don’t have music or other background sounds.
For others, it’s too quiet at home. Playing music can help with focus when there is noise from others in the house who might also be working or schooling from home. Help them be aware that the music is on when they answer the phone or begin a video meeting.
How are you exercising during the day?
Many people get regular exercise at work from walking department to department and even building to building. Working from home can yield a much more sedentary experience than in the office. I find that exercising in the morning before I go to my home office makes be more energized and ready to dig in. I also find I need to stand, stretch, and walk several times each hour.
How do you maintain your focus on work when you look around and see lots that could be done around your home?
Especially in the first few weeks of telecommuting, clients tell me they are reminded of all the things around the house that could fill the time and that in the beginning they would end up spending almost half of their time on home tasks. Encourage your staff to include in their work-from-home plan a home task that will give them a lift when they feel the need to task switch.
Daily Check-In Meetings
At Leading Home Care and the CEO Forum, we’ve worked remotely for a number of years. To make sure we are all in alignment, we have a daily check-in meeting at 12:30 eastern time. We use the Zoom video platform, which is proven to be very stable, reliable, and easy for office team members to use. You may also have a video platform with your internet telephone system.
For your daily check in meetings, have a specific agenda that you follow. Set a specific start time and stop time for your meeting. Don’t use this as a “water cooler” meeting to discuss every little issue. Here’s a suggested agenda:
- Good news from yesterday
- Metrics – key numbers you are tracking daily or weekly
- Critical issues we are working on
- Action steps from yesterday
- Action steps for today
The specifics of the agenda will vary depending on the size of your agency, and the team members who participate.
What else are you doing to help your team members adjust to working from home. Please send us your suggestions.