Top tips for managing home working during Coronavirus pandemic
The Coronavirus pandemic is here. The much quoted statistic from the Government that one fifth of the UK’s workforce could be isolated or sick at any one time, isn’t looking that far fetched anymore.
Business as unusual As a result organisations have dusted off their business continuity plans (or in many cases are writing them!) in order to find ways to enable their teams to work from home. Universities, for instance, have bolstered their virtual learning platforms and have upskilled lecturers to be able to deliver lecturers, seminars and workshops remotely for the very likely eventuality that campuses are closed; as is the case in many countries.
Rise in home working post Coronavirus In 2018 it was predicted that half of the UK’s workforce would work flexibly in some capacity, whether that was condensed hours or home working for a day a week or more, by the end of 2020. Whether we are on course to meet this is currently unknown. However, the outbreak of Coronavirus means that it is likely that this prediction will not only be met, but significantly surpassed. Experts in the HR press are saying that Coronavirus isolation will set a precedent with many workers taking advantage of the leverage it gives them to continue working from home after the epidemic has passed.
Home working = watching daytime TV doesn’t it? For many employers this will fill them with abject horror. Despite modern technology meaning the connected workplace has been a reality for a number of years there is still the fear that working from home equates to lying in bed and watching daytime TV. But this is not the case. As a remote-working marketing consultancy we know a thing or two about home working. And have actually found the exact opposite. Treating our team as the grownups they are, with the understanding that they have a life as well as a job means that they take how they earn money to support that life extremely seriously. Without a shadow of a doubt our teams produce work that exceeds the standards of work done in an office environment. Not only that, research shows most people work more efficiently from home, with greater creativity. And its long been known that a happy workforce equates to healthier bottom lines.
So what are our tips for managing a team remotely?
Top tips for managing home working
Don’t micromanage your team. Tell them your expectations and trust them to deliver. Does it matter if they do it from 9pm-5pm or from 5am-1pm? So long as they do the work to the standard you expect and fulfil any key tasks such as checking in with a client at a certain time, it really doesn’t matter.
Ensure that you have a good technologist on the team or nominate a point person. One of the most frustrating issues about remote working is when technology goes wrong. In the office you are used to calling IT to sort it out; so as a result make sure you have the same resource available to employees at home. Enable IT to access computers and devices from afar meaning any glitches are fixed quickly and efficiently.
Don’t be a stranger. There is obviously a fine line between tip 1 and 3. You don’t want to mither your team, but nor do you want to make them feel isolated. We recommend a weekly team meeting using technology such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangout etc. so that the team feels connected. Ensure that you draw up guidelines so that people quickly learn conferencing etiquette such as muting mics when they are not speaking to reduce feedback noise, or putting their virtual hand-up when they want to contribute.
Organisation is critical for the success of remote team meetings. Ensure that an agenda and any necessary documents are circulated beforehand and make it clear that lateness is not tolerated, unless communicated beforehand. Additionally follow up the meeting with the minutes as you would a normal face-to-face meeting.
Use technology such as Google Docs and Slack to enable collaborative remote working
Suggest to colleagues that they make a designated workspace in the home. It is proven that creating a work space is more productive than say working from the sofa or kitchen table.
If you don’t already have one, create an internal comms strategy. Making people feel connected when they are working from home is crucial. Sending out an email newsletter for example as well as regular face to face catch-ups, help to anchor the team and keep everyone in the loop.
When we launched not having an office was initially incredibly nerve-wracking, however, it is now the norm. Modern technology is now so powerful that conventional ways of doing business are changing. Coronavirus will fast track this shift. It was always on the agenda. Now it is here sooner. What is becoming increasingly clear is that organisations that wish to succeed in the post-Coronavirus era will need to adapt or face a disillusioned team.