Are you a people leader finding yourself with brand new work from home employees? Maybe you are new to working at home, as well. Now that the dust has settled with the details of moving your workforce home and enacting your business continuity plan, how can you make the most of this time and help your employees be successful and sane?
Don't treat all your employees the same. It doesn't help to have a cookie-cutter approach, like talking to all of your team once daily through the same method of communication. What works best for one person will drive another crazy. The same can be said for the communication platform of choice. Some employees may prefer a phone call while others find email or instant messaging better. Some may like their cameras on for chats and others may be reluctant to be on video. Talk to people to find their preferences if you don't already know them.
Start with the positives
Assume your team has good intentions. It is more helpful to your people if you offer them support and work through challenges with them, rather than assuming they are trying to find ways to work less or slack off without physical supervision. Trust they are adults who still want to do their best. But they may have brand new circumstances at home to balance and if you raise the conversation with them starting from positive assumptions you have a better chance of helping them find solutions to new work at home challenges, like child care or education, sick family members, or another spouse working in the house.
Replace social interactions
This one is tough, as the physical togetherness will likely be something many of your team members (and you) crave. Not all, some are doing great alone but others may be feeling the lack of people more as time passes. Offer alternatives. While not the same as an in-person event, video calls for happy hours, coffee breaks, lunch chats, and team meetings can help ease the solitude. Keep in mind some of your team may live alone and be more isolated because of that. Think creatively - do a virtual book club or movie club; themed dinner where everyone cooks the same thing or type of thing (like meatloaf, Indian food, scrambled eggs); or virtual tours - team members can walk through their homes and show off their favorite things (voluntary participation of course!). If you have a budget, consider having coffee or wine delivered to your team at home to share during a scheduled virtual event!
Understand initial loss of productivity
Consider your team's challenges with technology, space, privacy, and emotions as you set goals and maintain work expectations during this time. Some people may need more time than others to get acclimated and produce as quickly as they did in the office. Empathizing with this and setting attainable goals can help employees stay positive and focused on work. Your team is likely balancing lots of new challenges and fears. Working together and communicating will get you through it together.
2020 looks like the year of working from home so finding good solutions that work for you and your team will help you make the most of it!