The world is going through an unprecedented and challenging time. As part of the global effort to support our healthcare system and limit the transfer of the COVID-19 virus, many organizations are asking employees to work from home if they can.
For those organizations that don’t have a mature practice or policy on remote work, it can be a scramble to figure it out. It adds even more stress to leaders already trying to weather this storm. And, for employees that are new to remote work, it can be a challenging adjustment – especially with the additional burden of self-isolation, possible childcare dilemmas, and the overall uncertainty of our situation.
At Perficient, we have worked in our client offices, in our own offices, and remotely for decades. We have best practices that ensure our employees can work effectively when not in an office, and we’d like to share some of those with you.
Concerns to Address
Many leaders managing remote employees have concerns, including:
- Will my employees be able to work from home both psychologically and technically?
- Will they do their best work?
- Will they be distracted by taking care of children who are also isolated at home?
- How will we have good, productive meetings if we are not in the same space?
- How will we get a hold of someone quickly if we can’t just run to their office or desk?
- How will we keep our culture healthy and positive when we are not physically together?
Many employees also have concerns, including:
- Can I get my work done?
- Will I be evaluated differently or unfairly because I’m out of sight?
- Can I balance my work duties and the needs of my home-bound family?
- How do I stay focused?
- Do I have to wear pants?
Your New Work Environment
We’ve established the following best practices for remote employees to ensure they have a productive work environment:
- Designate a room for working: a home office or a bedroom with a desk, chair, computer, monitor, and internet access.
- Get ready for work as you normally would – get dressed for work (can be comfortable clothes, but no PJs) and go through your typical morning routines.
- Create a schedule that aligns with your colleagues and clients.
- Start and end work at the same time if you can.
- Take breaks as you would in an office.
- Take a lunch break as you would in an office.
- Attend to personal appointments just like you would when reporting into an office. Book the time off or let your colleagues know when you’ll be out.
- Use video when in conference calls. It’s not the same as face-to-face, but nonverbal communication and a friendly face support morale and culture.
- Communicate with your family when not to disturb your work (or risk becoming a YouTube sensation).
- e.g. One of our colleagues has curtains to the entrance to his office. Closed curtains means no noise near the office and no interruptions. Partially open curtains means you can make normal noise and knock if you need something. Completely open curtains means you are free to come in. His family thinks this is normal and thinks everyone who works at home does it.
Your New Office Etiquette
- Be available via collaboration tools (Slack, Teams, Skype, etc.), and check them regularly.
- Post a timeline status. “At lunch” or “Be back at 1:00.”
- Make sure your phone is charged and nearby for calls.
- Don’t wait until you “see” someone to ask questions, treat them like you would if you passed by them at the coffee machine.
- When you get on the phone, ask how your colleague is doing or how their kids are, just like you would in person.
- Have regular team meetings to discuss work and life so you can keep everyone connected and informed.
- If you are working on a project with someone, consider having an open phone call or meeting as you work, so you can bounce ideas off each other just like you would if you sat next to them at work.
- If someone doesn’t respond in a timely fashion, call them, like how you would pop by their desk in a shared work environment.
- Have clear, measurable expectations for the work to be done, so you can hold yourself and your teams accountable.
- Keep your calendar up to date, so your team knows when they can reach you.
Collaboration tools are plentiful, and many are free. Just confirm they comply with your company’s security and privacy protocols.
- A regular working cadence and shared etiquette will help everyone. Set a schedule and maintain it.
- Video makes a big difference in our culture and helps keep people engaged. They can read nonverbal cues and know when they may need to follow up on a topic or issue.
- Keep regular team meetings to keep people informed and connected.
- Maintain consistent 1:1s with your direct reports to help address project work and concerns.
- Schedule informal catch up meetings with colleagues you think are struggling. Having your support and guidance can provide colleagues with confidence.
We’ll be sharing more tips for remote working as we get through this and adapt to new ways of doing things. Stay safe.