With changing mandates and increased social distancing, more and more companies are adapting by having their employees work from home. If approached correctly, this change can empower your team to learn how to manage their own schedules, work more independently and productively, build trust, and encourage a stronger work-life balance.
Whether an office is offering flexible home work schedules or going fully remote, there are some important steps to take to ensure that you are supporting employees in every way possible to ensure a successful transition.
Help them understand what working from home looks like, especially if this is new to you (and them).
Working from home is very different than commuting to and from an office or designated workspace. The line between personal and work life is blurred in both directions, and many people struggle in the beginning with the change. There are a number of distractions (spouses, pets, children, other family members), and if they don’t have a dedicated space or the same equipment set-up at home, accomplishing work effectively can be difficult.
To help set employees up for work-from-home success, encourage them to:
Find a space that is only for work.
Working from the couch or the kitchen table makes work bleed into the rest of daily life. Even just a designated work desk or table in a common area will do if they don’t have a dedicated office area.
Get dressed and ready for work each day.
No, they aren’t going into an office. But that doesn’t mean that staying in pajamas all day every day is a good thing. Recommend that employees take care of their appearances - take a shower, style their hair, shave or put on make-up, and put on clean clothes. It will encourage them to get into the mental state of work, and stay more productive throughout the day.
Just as they would in an office setting, ask employees to take time to themselves to recharge. Employees that take breaks are more productive than those that do not - even when working from home.
Set a schedule.
Ask employees to figure out their own work schedule, and what times of day they are the most productive. Do they have more energy in the morning, or the afternoon? Ask them to set clear boundaries for when they will be working and when they will not (and communicate those boundaries clearly), so that they can turn off notifications when they are not “at work”.
Put it away.
When the work day is over, recommend that employees distance themselves from their work-mode brains for the sake of balance and mental health. Suggest that once they’re wrapped up each day, turn off the laptop and put it away in a drawer. Put papers and files away and out of sight. It’s a way for them to leave the office mentally rather than physically.
Communicate needs clearly, with regular virtual check-ins.
This includes understanding “working hours” and “off hours”, as well as clear times for breaks. If your employees have never worked from home before, they may not know what is expected of them, or how to manage their own time. They may quickly feel overworked or burned out.
Manage time with shared calendars, and include time for breaks or personal appointments. Schedule a weekly check-in call (virtual video meetings are even better for face-to-face interaction) with your immediate team to discuss what expectations are for the week and ensure everyone is on the same page. Even just catching up on what everyone did over the weekend is a wonderful way to boost morale.
Encourage employees to make their workspace comfortable, and make it their own unique space.
Many workplaces focus their energy on ergonomics and preventing injuries within the office. However, people often don’t apply this knowledge to their at-home work areas. If your company has it in the budget, provide second monitors to employees. Even a gift card to an office supply store where employees can get an ergonomically correct chair, or apply the gift card to the purchase of a standing desk will support better productivity.
Remember to also encourage employees to decorate their home office and make it their own. Ask coworkers to share pics of their workspace for inspiration.
Make sure you’re building and supporting your work community.
Being in the office builds morale and comfort between colleagues. There’s collaboration and community that happens when people work alongside one another - even if only a few days a week. When employees are working entirely from home, it can cause people to feel separated from the kind of natural connection and creativity that happens within shared work areas.
Sending care packages for employees will help boost work from home morale and make them feel appreciated and valued. Whether with technology that encourages a more fun and effective work space, or a box filled with yummy snacks as comfort food, you can support employees with a boost of positive encouragement with any of these work from home gifts.
Gifts can be branded with your logo (pending timelines), and drop-shipped directly to employees at their homes.
With more and more people working from home, it’s more important than ever to keep your team connected, engaged, and feeling supported. Work from home gifts will help your employees with a feeling of positivity and solidarity. It will build connection with your brand, your company, and between colleagues moving forward.