Whether businesses were ready for it or not, recent events have seen a huge number of people staying home to stay safe. That means working from home is the new normal. But for some, there’s been limited time to get properly set up. No matter if you’re a small distribution business or large corporate, there’s a few key things you can do to successfully move your workforce out of the office and ensure they can still be productive, efficient, happy and healthy.
1. Enable your team to access their everyday tools from anywhere
If you’re lucky enough to have the online collaboration tools in place to enable remote work, you’re off to a great start. Because a big issue for businesses is that their systems are old or on-premise, so their staff have to be in the office to use them.
So take a look at the way you do business and think about how you and your team can continue to meet your customers’ needs, and manage your inventory, distribution and cashflow online. Consider an eCommerce platform so your customers can still order goods from you. And think about how your team can access the same up-to-date information about your business - from customer order information to the current state of your financials - securely and from home.
2. Stick to a routine
The first thing your people will notice working from home is a lack of routine. With no bus to catch and no need to get suited and booted, a lot of people will feel lost initially.
It’s a good idea to get up at the same time and stick to a morning routine. Breakfast, coffee, a walk around the block or some exercise will leave you feeling ready to begin the day, as normally as possible. Start your workday at the ‘usual’ time.
Set up an area to work in comfortably. A separate workspace that you can close the door on each day if possible is ideal, but a corner of the kitchen table or nook in the living room will do. That’s your work zone.
Take regular breaks throughout the day - a lunch break, or a short coffee break, just like you would at work. This will help you maintain a routine and stop you from getting fatigued.
It’s a good idea to clock off at the same time each day. When your workday and home life are happening in the same space, setting time constraints is the best way to split them up. Otherwise, it'll feel like you never switch off.
3. Set goals and priorities and keep the team motivated
You may not be in the same place as your colleagues, but you’ve still got a business to run. Which means you still need to discuss what’s happening in the business and keep projects on track.
Hopefully, you have online meeting software, like Microsoft Teams, already available. This is going to make regular team catch-ups simple. And a daily all-hands or huddle is a great way to share what you’re working on, discuss any issues that’ve come up, and set priorities.
We’ve all seen the memes of how online meetings can go wrong. Keep things efficient by setting an agenda. Appoint a chair to keep the meeting on track. And finish by repeating the actions or takeaways. You’ll find that your teams are motivated and ready to start the day.
A little tip – encourage everyone to turn their camera on. It makes for a better connection with your team members, especially for those that are isolated at the moment.
4. Keep in touch with your colleagues throughout the day
There’s lots of ways to stay in touch and keep the business running, from wherever you happen to be.
Along with your daily team meeting, try to check in with your colleagues during the day, just like you would at work. With the technology many businesses have available, working from home doesn’t mean you’re alone!
Set up and lock in recurring project scrum meetings. Plan your new marketing campaign. Or discuss what stock you have available to meet changing demands. You don’t need to save these conversations for the team meeting.
But you also don’t have to organise a video meeting for every decision. Use message or chat to fire off quick questions that you’d usually turn to your desk neighbour to ask. Distribute important information to colleagues using email. And don’t forget to pick up the phone.
5. Make trust your core value
For lots of businesses, this will be the first time that work from home has been offered to staff. And for managers used to seeing bums on seats from 9 to 5, there will be some adjustments. There’s no quick fix for changing people’s mindsets about this more flexible approach to remote work that we now find ourselves in. But there’s one key thing you can do to make it happen faster - trust.
During this time of adjustment, managers need to trust their teams and be trustworthy themselves. And the same goes for employees. How can everyone build mutual trust quickly? Quite simply do what you said you would.
Even without the structure of office life, you can still deliver. Be mindful of deadlines. Be there for your people. Lead by example. And remind yourself and the team what your shared goals are.
6. Stay healthy in mind and body
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has been stressful for all of us. So making sure we stay as healthy as we can will help strengthen our immune systems. And it can minimise the anxieties from uncertain times, home-schooling, keeping on top of work remotely and keeping our toilet paper stockpiles healthy.
Here’s some simple things we can do to stay healthy at home:
- Make sure your home workspace is as comfortable as possible. A comfortable chair and desk or table will help you feel more relaxed at ‘work’. If you have additional requirements, be sure to raise them with your manager.
- Keep moving! Grab a drink, have a stretch or go for a short walk - aim to get out of your chair once every hour.
- If your exercise routine happened as part of getting to work, don't stop – add in a walk, run, or walk the dog at another time. Just be sure to check government guidelines on social distancing as these are changing all the time.
- Stick to your normal bedtime and avoid screen time an hour before bed.
- Sleep is super important for our focus and immunity.
7. Stay focused and positive
This isn’t easy, but it will pass. If you’re working from home, it means that you still have a job and your business has the technology available to support you and keep the business running. These are good things.
Stay focused on your business goals and remember what you come to work for. Continue to help your customers and prospects meet their challenges. Stay healthy and keep talking – with colleagues, friends and family.
At Wiise, we're grateful to be in a position, as a cloud technology business, to have an agile, flexible workforce that can access their work and stay in touch from home. And we use cloud-based collaboration tools for operating the business. Which means we can deliver business as usual.
If there’s anything we can do to help your business meet new challenges, including transitioning your team to remote work, please get in touch anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Until next time, keep calm and work from home.