Working from home can be a daunting task, especially if it is something you haven’t previously done. Over the last few days, several articles have appeared that give suggestions on how you can work from home. However, one area not covered in detail is the support of your team during this time of change. Working from home requires different ways of working. If things are not approached in the right manner, productivity will suffer as a result.
So, here are some of our tips on how to help your team shine whilst they are working from home.
Prepare to be flexible: Working from home can be extremely difficult if you have other things to contend with during the day (children spring to mind). If your team try to juggle both simultaneously then work starts to suffer as a result, and motivation will plummet. So, be prepared to allow the team to work flexibly around other commitments. It doesn’t mean your team will be doing less, it will just be spread out longer throughout the day… don’t be surprised if you see some team members responding to emails at 2am.
Utilise collaboration software: At Mercia, we use a great tool called Microsoft Teams. It is an effective way of ensuring that the team are still talking with each other, sharing ideas and keeping each other motivated. Best of all it also has your Outlook calendar built in. If you are an Office 365 user, then it will help you maintain that team environment. We have prepared a useful guide on how to get the best out of this software, we have also suggested a small selection of other platforms that may do the trick.
Organise a daily team catch up call: It is always good to ensure that everyone is facing the same way, sharing their experiences and highlighting the challenges they face. Working from home can be incredibly lonely if you are used to a team environment. It’s amazing how much better people feel if they are not disconnected from the outside world.
Team meetings can still work: With tools like Microsoft Teams you can still run a full team meeting without leaving your house. If your team want to present, then they can share their screen and take you through presentations on their areas. This is a good way of staying up to date on what your team are hard at work doing. Make it fun, you can even include interactive exercises to keep people engaged. You can also encourage the team to share a video, which gives everyone a reason to get dressed up like they are spending a day at the office.
Set SMART objectives: Ensure your team have clear direction on what is expected of them whilst they are away, give them realistic timescales (that they agree they can work too) and ensure the objective is quantifiable. Don’t add to their workload by checking up too regularly on whether tasks are underway. Let them get their heads down and focus on making you proud.
Help with technology woes: Time and time again you will notice that people’s spotty internet connections result in very poor-quality sound and video. The best way to alleviate this is to ensure that your team are all connecting via a LAN cable, directly from the router. These are available for less than £10 from most online retailers and this simple step will dramatically improve overall call quality. Encourage your team to do the same.
Recommend desk/table working: It can be all too easy to just open the laptop and relax on the sofa, but this is known to have a huge negative impact on productivity. It can harm posture, increase fatigue and even damage wellbeing. Encourage your team to sit at a desk, if they don't have one then suggest using a table. If space is an issue, then collapsible desks are a good solution. Simply taking this single step will make a world of difference to anyone who is working from home.
So, whilst the next few weeks may present some challenges, working closely as a team needn’t be one of the things that suffers as a result. The main thing is not to focus on what you can't do, but the number of things you CAN do. Many organisations globally actually encourage working from home as it can increase productivity, save on costs and improve team communication. You may even find that you don't want to go way to the old ways of working.
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