Believe it or not, we’ve passed the first 30 days of working remotely. For most of us, the new normal is to work from home. So, we thought now would be a good time to check-in and see how everyone’s managing.
No matter the size of your workforce, it’s very different to move from a regular, in-office work environment to a work from home (WFH) one. For those who depend on routines, it can be jarring. For others, there’s a definite benefit in WFH – shorter commute, lax dress code, greater flexibility etc. But, there are also challenges not often seen during regular time in the office, such as isolation and issues around childcare with children being homeschooled.
Fellow Lorry (and HR extraordinaire) Leah Coglin explains:
From a working parent’s perspective you spend a lot of time trying to make sure childcare issues don’t disrupt work commitments. Now, quite literally overnight, so many people are in the same boat trying to juggle their kids and still be productive at work – with the cherry on the cake that is home-schooling thrown in for good measure!
From personal experience, I can share that it’s difficult to navigate around my cats’ schedules as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when they want love (knocking at the office door and howling until I let them in), or to fight (usually in the background when I’m on a call). They are lovely but definitely two of my most difficult WFH challenges.
Similar challenges are being felt by businesses and their customers across many industries. For example, clients are not only managing their own work environment, they’re also trusting their vendors to do their jobs as successfully as if they were still in the office. This can place a lot of pressure on employees, which is why it’s so important to maintain a constant, dependable workflow in order to soothe anxious souls. Check out this article from The Muse that addresses the many challenges we all face while not in the office.
Like all companies, we’ve had to figure out what works for us. So, here are a few work from home tips we’ve learnt over the past few weeks that can help you manage your situation and support your employees while maintaining morale in today’s challenging times:
As a manager, it’s your job to guide your team and set the standard of how to best be productive while WFH. Your actions – good and bad – will be noted by your team, so act wisely and lead by example. Respond to inbound inquiries in a timely fashion – just as you would in the office – and encourage others to do the same. When setting expectations for deliverables, be as clear as possible so people know what is being shared and asked of them – unclear thoughts can cause unnecessary confusion and delays.
Not sure how to talk to your team? Read this Harvard Business Review article for guidance.
The importance of regular check-ins
Whether you work with five people or 50, it’s important to ask how they are. Some employers offer WFH as an occasional or more permanent benefit, while there are others that don’t. This can result in stressing out staff who aren’t used to WFH, causing tenseness and distrust that you may not be aware of. Your sincerity is key and remembering to check in with co-workers regularly relays a message of calm and trust – something that is difficult to replicate with workers operating in isolation.
And don’t let standards slip just because we’re over 30 days in. Keep checking in with employees regularly to make sure they are still coping. As Lena Grün from our Berlin office says:
Real human interaction seems to have become more absent over the years, especially with the increased availability of collaboration technology removing the need to speak on the phone or meet face-to-face. The current situation forces us to be human first and a professional second, bringing the human component back into the workplace.
Not sure what to ask? This recent Quartz article offers some great suggestions on how to ask about others, while continuing to build meaningful connections.
One of the consequences of constant WFH is the feeling of disconnect. Although we’re all connected technologically, the day-to-day of seeing teammates on a regular schedule is missing. An easy way to stay connected as you WFH includes holding video calls vs. regular phone calls. OK, not everyone feels that they’re ready for the big screen, but it’s a necessary evil. By holding calls on video – like Slack, Zoom, or Skype – you’re giving attendees a face to go with the names. It also builds a sense of community (as we’re all in the same boat).
Set up virtual lunch dates to keep everyone in tune. While we may not be able to sit down and share space with our coworkers, we can always share a meal, or a celebratory end of week beverage. The key is to operate as you would in a physical office – just let digital meeting services like Flock or Teams give you a helping hand.
As a global PR agency, we’re spread across two continents and four times zones. While this could present syncing challenges, we work around it by gathering for our ‘Stammtisch’ weekly get-together to keep us all in touch (see our team here). And our Los Angeles team has a standing Friday lunch date where pets and games are always welcome.
We’ve been documenting how we’re all coping on Twitter using #LorriesWFH. We not only get to share our daily trials and tribulations, but it helps convey that although we’re apart, we’re still a community – and can also add a few laughs to the workday.
We’ve also taken conversations that previously would’ve been discussed around the water cooler and turned them into a web series. Check out Remotely Interesting on our social channels and witness our cross-continent discussions about topics that interest us.
It’s an unusual time for us all, but it doesn’t have to be isolating. After all, we’re all in this together! Use this time to your advantage and set yourself and your team up for success by making the most of these working from home tips, tools and technologies to stay connected to your teams and clients.
Do you have any tips/tricks on what makes you more successful as you work from home? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you!