Coronavirus is accelerating working from home, a trend that was already happening in many businesses and organizations. Working remotely becomes compulsory in some countries due to lockdown imposed by some governments.
However, the transition from working in the office to working remotely is not evident, especially for managers who have to ensure the same performance of their team.
What time of the day will you and your team start and stop working? What should you do to manage your team from home? How do you track your team member’s performance? … These – and a hundred other questions – are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as a manager. In personal perspective, you also have to define and establish personal norms when you work from home. So, being efficient working from home can be a challenge. But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good workspace to the way you communicate to your team.
These following tips are not only remotely working guidelines for yourself but also for your team during this epidemic time.
1. Figure out a schedule for working and be disciplined
One of the coolest things about working remotely is that you often don’t have to punch a time clock at a particular time every morning. Prefer to wake up early and get a jump start on your day by 7AM? Go for it! Or maybe you’re a night owl and get most of your work done after dinner. That’s okay, too!
But you can usually set your schedule in a way that works for you and your most productive times. Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15 to 20 minutes break so we can recharge and get ready to achieve high performance on our next task.
So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking about an 8-, 6-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. The first thing you do in the morning is the most important thing you will do that day because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. So prepare for that first thing the night before. Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information, productivity of you and your team.
2. Have a workspace
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can work anywhere, like from your bed. When working from home it’s important to have a dedicated and removed space from your normal life that will be your workspace. This space is where business gets done and hopefully is isolated away from where there may be distractions, such as the children, house chores,… Working at your kitchen or dining room table can seem logical. But that means any time you want to use your table for other things like eating, you have to clean up and put away your work. At the very least, figure out where you can put a dedicated desk that isn’t used for anything else. If you have a spare room to use for an office, even better.
3. Engage with your colleagues regularly, on a fixed routine
Clear, consistent communication is going to be key for your remote work success. This doesn’t mean you need to be talking to your coworkers all day long, but knowing that everyone has a common tool to brainstorm, ask questions, and post notes is crucial. Try to make sure that you’re purposely engaging with your team every day. And the whole team members in a chatroom that’s our version of a virtual water cooler for posting things that aren’t work-related but that the team will appreciate.
4. Take advantage of being remote but do not abuse remote mode
While it’s crucial to develop a routine, that routine doesn’t have to look the same as it would if you were commuting to an office every day. You want to take advantage of being remote so you can experience some of the perks! Maybe you start a little earlier than your coworkers and end the day earlier (or the other way around). If you take advantage of these perks you won’t feel the same confinement as you would sitting at the same desk every day — regardless of whether that desk is in an office building or your home.
But, be alert! Because the advantage can cause you to ignore your work a bit more and can’t keep up the good work with the team.
5. Have a clear working timeline and follow strictly with your team
Working remotely makes you easily lose track with your working timeline. Make sure you still follow strictly with your deadlines even when you are at home. Clarify each of your team’s milestones with each team member to ensure that everyone understands the same issues, the same deadlines such as product release, feature delivery… Check with your team regularly their advancement so you can jump in and help whenever they are lost.
Be supportive but not disciplinary as working remotely is stressful enough for you and your team. Putting more pressure can only diminish personal motivation and productivity.