Due to the ‘new norm’ of working from home, many are asking how to work productively, maintain engagement and collaboration, lead and manage teams, and participate in virtual meetings. While this has not been standard practice for many organizations previously, employees are doing their best to work through the initial kinks while not predominately set up to work from home. In times of crisis, we learn to adjust and adapt. So – how do we best do this?
Get the infrastructure, technology, and your home office all set up
Make sure you have a working laptop, can access all networks and software needed to do your job, are able to dial into the organization easily, participate in conference calls, and have mobile device access. When working from home, have a dedicated work area or ‘office’. If you share your home with others, try and make this workspace as quiet as possible – having a space that’s your own will help when you have calls to be on or conferences to participate in. If possible, set up a workspace with some natural light. Natural light is known to increase the brain’s production of serotonin, which enhances your mood.
Stick to your weekday routine as much as possible
Have a start and end time to your workday that sticks closely to your normal on-the-job/in-the-office day. Develop structure to your day so it’s more easily manageable. Get dressed for the day and start it off as you typically would if you were going into work. Maintaining as much of your normal routine as possible is crucial. If exercise is part of your routine, then make sure to still include that – lots of studios are offering virtual at home workouts, so take advantage of these. After all, endorphins make you happy!
Make a daily schedule and to-do list. Set goals for yourself each day and try to stick with them. Having set deliverables that are expected from you and that your team members are assigned to will help everyone manage expectations. Keeping organized is important to maintaining productivity. With less distractions when you work from home (hopefully!), you should be able to get just as much, if not more, done as when you are in the office. Remember, working from home is not an excuse to not work, you want your managers to trust you, so keeping up with projects, tasks and deliverables is very important.
If in your regular workday, you frequently interact with your coworkers, make sure you still get this, albeit virtually, to prevent feeling isolated. Make sure to take advantage of different perspectives based on circumstance. Now’s not the time to shy away but embrace new avenues of communication. Facetime, phone calls, video conferences or chats, instant messaging services and emails are all great tools to utilize.
Engage in virtual meetings
Virtual meeting should be held in the same regard as in-office meetings. Respectfully, there should be no phones and no multi-tasking during this time. It is wise to distribute a meeting agenda, which gives a general direction and some organization, so those included can prepare questions and comment where appropriate. Follow up on these meetings with an email about the findings, key outcomes and/or next steps. Assigning responsibility ensures everyone knows their tasks and can plan accordingly. Having multiple touchpoints with collaborators keeps open the lines of communication.
Check in with your team
Managers should have an open conversation about these new work circumstances with their team, helping to address any questions or concerns. All team members should actively be involved in figuring out the best way to work together and collaborate with team meetings still happening at least weekly, if not more frequently. Managers need to make sure they are visible, still corresponding with their teams and reaching out to let them know if they need anything, they are available to help.
Preserve the company culture
You can still have happy hours, lunches, office chats, coffee breaks, and more with coworkers. Now, they will just be virtual. Embrace the change, be creative, and make it fun. Keeping up your company culture will ensure connectedness and inclusion. This allows everyone to know that we are all in this together!