8 Essential Hints and Tips for Working From Home

8 top tips to support you and your team when working from home.

It sounds great when you get the chance to work from home, as a remote worker and leader of remote teams for the past 9 years, the most common questions I get asked, how do I manage my team when I am not side by side with them? Do I not get distracted by the TV or doing household chores? Here are my top tips on those and other questions.

1. Experiment working from home

Sounds simple, but don’t assume everyone knows how to work remotely. Talk to your team about concerns and work through how you can overcome these together.

Experiment by splitting your team in two with one group at home and other in the office. Make sure your homeworkers can log on, access folders, files and systems to carry out their routine tasks, it will also test your servers to ensure it can cope with high volume of remote logins. Swap your team round the next day.

Medium or large organisation should plan a day where you have more than 50% of your staff at home or remote working, this will allow for systems and servers to be tested.

2. Equipment and tools

Get into the habit of taking all your equipment home every day from the office (don’t forget your charger).

If you don’t have a business computer to take home, can your team log in through their home computer? Remember not everyone will have a PC/Laptop they might have tablets; are there any system restrictions that don’t allow access?

If you or your team need to take hard copy files home, it worth keeping a log of what has been taken, just in case things get misplaced, you can quickly identify what it was and react to it.

3. Check-in with you team regularly

If your team don’t normally work from home, it is worth a 5 to 10 min daily one to one in the morning and at the end of the shift. Check in to see how they are, what they managed to get through that day. You can then reduce the contact time once they get use to the change.

Remember, your conversation don’t need to be about work. When you’re in the office, you don’t talk about work in every conversation, otherwise things would get a bit tedious.

Book in one to one and personal development time, this is an area which can slip away easily, make sure this is booked out in the diary.

Thank you. Under used words, make sure to thank your team for the effort and work they are putting, a personal note or call will go a long way. I created a round up e-mail note on the Friday, to keep the team informed of business updates, had a but of fun before the weekend and found quotes of how I felt the week had gone.

4. Wellbeing

You may have individuals in your team that thrive on other people, working from home, though sounds great, might be daunting for them, you might want to make sure your team catch up with each other regularly throughout the day, just as in the office (see collaboration tools).

We all lead busy lives and home is normally the sanctuary from work. Being at home 24/7 where you cannot escape work can quite quickly drain a person motivation and affect mental health. Mind.org.uk has some great tips to keep your mind healthy.

  • Take regular breaks, just like in the office. Go outside, even for a few minutes can be revitalising.
  • Take your lunch outside as you go for a walk or go into another room.
  • Eat well and keep hydrated.
  • Walk as you talk, mobile-phone calls don’t need to be at the desk

5. Set clear goals and expectations

Make sure your team know what you expect, just as you would in the office. As a leader you will need to keep track and what individuals are accountable for.

I normally have a 30min call on a Friday individually with my team, this allows me to gauge how my team are feeling, how they have got on that week and what their plans are from Monday.

Remember your team own their actions!

6. Collaboration tools

At the beginning, if you have conference call facilities set a call up every other day to catch up with your team and more importantly for them to catch up with each other. Encourage your team to continue talking to each other. You can very quickly become sole contributors and not a team. Video conference is great for this, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. most mobile phones will allow you to join several calls together if you don’t have a conference facility.

Instant messaging tools is another great way your team to communicate informally, Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. I would recommend not using social media sites like Facebook as a work communication method.

7. Working hours

If you normally work nine to five, does this need to be the case? I have several members of my team who work different shifts to allow them to balance home and worklife, with some of them doing split shifts.

8. Distractions

Not always a bad thing when working from home, no different than working in the office. Some leaders become overly concerned about what their people are doing when they can’t be seen. Ask yourself:

• Is everything I am asking getting done and to the same high standard?

• Are my team happy and productivity is high?

Set the ground rules, goals and expectations with the team and if that means they do a few household chores in a day, it shows you trust them and keeps fatigue down.

If you want more hints and tips on working form home, get in touch.

Working from home – MZN Consultancy

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