One of the positive things that happened during the Corona virus lock-down was that the world got an opportunity to work from home. Most people are used to working from a dedicated office environment and have been working like that for decades. Now, this sudden change can be really challenging.
Working form home can actually be an ideal situation for many people. There will a few initial hiccups in making it as effective as working from an office, but nothing that cant be ironed out with some effective policies.
Organizations are also required to evolve to help their employees’ set-up effective work from home environments to enhance their productivity. If the news is to be believed, post-COVID-19, most of the business world will exclusively shift to working digitally (barring few exceptions), for its convenience and reduced operation costs.
With small organized efforts, you can help your team to turn their sweet little homes to highly productive work zones.
Here are the tips from experts to help your employees create a productive work environment at home.
With no time and energy wasted in traveling, and the comforts of being with the family, work from home can be the best thing that has ever happened.
The employees just need to set some ground rules with their people and pets, with whom they share their space, and the rest of the things will automatically fall in place.
Equip teams with appropriate technology tools
The first step to help your virtual team to succeed is to get them the online tools to stay connected. There are various project management tracking and video applications for your team to stay connected. Microsoft Teams, Asana, Zoom, Buzzstream, Slack, GoToMeeting, etc. are a few to name.
When you equip your teams with these applications, the managers and their teams can stay on the same page. Instant connectivity is the key to enhanced productivity of employees while working virtually.
Set a routine of daily check-ins
As the employees are no longer meeting their managers for face-to-face discussions, creating a daily check-in routine is important to set priorities.
A morning check-in routine brings a sense of normalcy in the work environment for the team who is remotely connected. The managers can choose to do these check-ins on a one-on-one basis, or they can do it as a group.
One of the biggest challenges that come in working virtually is to engage in effective communication as a team. Often, in text messages, the true essence or clarity of communication is lost.
Thus, to overcome this challenge, the managers and team leaders must supplement their emails and text messages with face-to-face interactions. Even voice interactions are very useful to communicate with clarity.
Voice interactions convey one’s body language, one’s tone, and intent much better anytime. So, managers must make sure to organize video chats often to communicate effectively with their teams.
Check employees state of mind.
Due to the turbulent environment outside, there is a lot of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty in all. This delays the process of settling down with ease in a changing environment. This intern slows their work rate considerably.
You can to set up an employee engagement survey to understand what state of mind are your team members in and help them get back on track. Re-assurance on their job security will help immensely.
Encourage friendly conversations online.
Since there are no in-person social cues and interaction while working remotely, employees may quickly feel distracted and lost. To overcome this, encourage virtual ‘coffee conversations’ or ‘after-work drinks’ to keep the energies of the team high.
Let these conversations be lighthearted, non-work based discussions for a change.
If you are used to working in a traditional work environment, as a manager, you are forced to check on your employees to ensure they are on task.
But, while working remotely, micromanaging your team is not a good idea to follow. It can raise trust issues between the team and the managers. A recent research journal by Harvard Business School also suggests ‘not to micromanage virtual teams’ as a guideline for working from home.
So, how do you trust that your employees are engaged with the given task and not whiling away time at home?
Divert your focus to outcomes rather than the process or activity. You need to set goals as a team leader and measure the performance based on the work delivered.
Set-Up an example of how a good remote set-up looks like
Every team looks up to their team leader or manager in every crisis. So, you need to showcase your team on how to build a good work environment at home.
You can show your own workspace at home and how you’ve organized it. Ensure that your surrounding is well organised and free of any clutter to.
Empathize with your team
After decades together, the world is experiencing a crisis like this. This whole situation is new for everyone. You may hear a child crying or screaming at the back while talking to your team, or you may sometimes see the kids peeping into the screens during a video chat, etc.
All this is the ‘new normal’, which needs to be empathized and given time. The kids are so excited to see their parents at home all through the day. Let everyone take time to settle down to accept these new ways of working.
Acknowledge the feelings
The managers must take the lead in opening up about the new situations that are coming up while working from home. Let all the team members share their good and bad experiences with the team openly.
It helps everyone to understand that it is reasonable to face new situations in these uncertain times. The employees understand that everyone is going through the same changes in this crisis. It brings in the sense of normalcy in employees.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only 5% of employees in the US were working from home, but now millions of people are working exclusively from home. This indicates where the working paradigm is shifting. Working from home is going to be the new ‘normal’ thing in the business world. The sooner we adapt to working virtually, the easier itll be for us to increase our productivity.