After some time of doing feedback, you discovered many of your employees or team members would like to have flexible working hours and location. A fixed routine is one of the factors burning them out. Allowing them to come in to work at different time of their choice seems reasonable, acceptable and of course, feasible. But the thought of letting them work-from-home sends shivers down your spine! How are you going to manage your people being away from you? Are things ever going to get done?
Fret not. In this article, we are going to show you the preparation you can take in order to mitigate the uncertainties of working from home.
Transparency across your remote team is crucial as it keeps your people aware of all relevant information that spans across projects, teams, individuals such as deadlines, tasks and progress.
There are many project management tools out there which helps to keep every of your team member on the same page, track progresses and deadline. Google Apps is a rather comprehensive office tool you could leverage on to share information. It’s lightweight!
Put in place a system where information are readily available and transparent to employees. It allows co-workers to see what each one of them have accomplished, leaders to track their team’s progress and also for individuals to complete their task in a timely manner. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a good way to align teams and individuals along the greater direction of your company.
Plan for Seamless Communication
Given that those working from home are missing out on face-to-face discussion, they need to have a way to communicate with their office counterparts or even another remote team member. One of our favorite tool is Slack. You will be able to segregate your chat groups by projects, departments and allocate your team members to these. So a question asked from remote can be seen and answered by those in the group. And it’s available on mobile.
There might be times when video conferencing works better than chat platforms, especially for lengthy discussions. Screens could be shown live for demonstration or better clarity to the other party.
A common situation is that people working out from offices tend to feel disconnected, lonely and neglected. Seamless communication helps to connect your distant employees back to the team.
Have a Plan B Ready
It is possible that the internet connectivity doesn’t work as expected on certain days. Plan B must then be activated in such cases. It could be allowing your team members work from cafes or some other places with access to get back online. If such arrangements are difficult for those who wants to work from home or in some worse case where they really can’t get internet connection, talk through a cover up that they are comfortable with. For instance, working extra hours each day to compensate for the lost hours.
Practice Recognition from Leader and Peer
We highlighted above that people who work from home tend to be disconnected as they are missing out on the social connections that an office can provide. The feeling of isolation aggravates when they don’t receive recognition of some form for the things they had done. It opens up the thought of “Am I appreciated?”. Therefore, it is crucial not to overlooked the practice of showing appreciation.
All along, the responsibilities of giving words of encouragement and recognizing work done well seems to be solely on the managers and leaders.
They may be over burdened by such a responsibility and find it a must do rather than a well intention from the heart. The compliments given out by this leader will no longer be as genuine. The recipients, on the other side, will be able to identify if those words of praises are truly from the heart or just a formality.
A couple of things may happen:
- The manager will feel frustrated that he is unable to show appreciation to all team members CONSISTENTLY and SUSTAINABLY
- Team members gets discouraged over time as they don’t receive enough encouragement to feel valued. They start to question their existence and usefulness to the company
- Low morale may float silently within the team
Instead of putting the responsibility of recognizing good work solely on the shoulders of the leaders, shift some of it to the team members. Train them to practise peers to peers recognition. What you can do is to get them to praise at least one colleague daily, who has helped them to get things done in one way or another.
Having said that, the act of giving praises should not be a total shift to the team members. It should be a team spirit shared by both leaders and their people, to give genuine appreciation which is a prerequisite to a positive, uplifting and supportive environment.
Consider Co-Working Spaces
If there are a few employees staying within a vicinity, consider exploring partnership options with co-working spaces providers that has presence in some neighbourhoods. Co-working spaces has the following benefits:
- Employees can avoid the rush-hour traffic and save time traveling
- It’s like an office where employees (staying within the area) still see each other and allows interaction
- There are often other group of people from different trades co-sharing the space and this environment allows for ideas to bump
- Facilities such as a desk, pantry, internet connection are most likely already provided for
With the above practises put in place, implementing work from home is not so dreadful after all. Besides, a trial period of 1 month or more can be used to find out and discover if a partial or full remote team works well for your operations. Research has shown that working from home increases productivity.
Leaders, consider offering work from home options and ease team member’s load of having to deal with traffic and allow them flexibility to manage their day-to-day matters. Team members, if your company is one that values it’s people’s opinion, suggest the work-from-home option and talk about how the issues of a remote team can be minimized.
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