To say that 2020 threw the work world for a loop is an understatement. In addition to a slew of layoffs and furloughs, many organizations were forced to rethink the way the operate, being forced to work from home indefinitely without advanced notice.
While hope is on the horizon for 2021 with the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more widely available, many companies have learned lessons from working from home in 2020. Some companies will choose to save money on office space rent by going fully remote, or improve work-life balance by going to a hybrid office/work from home model.
No matter how your company operates in 2021, here’s how you can improve work from home for your staff.
Provide Time and Space to Socialize
The term “water cooler conversation” might become a thing of the past as more companies begin to see the benefits of working from home. As an employer, it is important to make sure your team is connected and striving toward the same goals. Providing an opportunity and online space where employees can socialize is good for morale.
Connect with your team, even from a distance. Have morning huddles on Google Hangouts, chat throughout the day on Microsoft Teams and hold brainstorm meetings on Zoom. While socializing might seem like an unnecessary distraction from the busyness of the day, it is essential to creativity and ingenuity that will keep your team and business ahead of the competition.
Upgrade Your Tech
In March 2020, many businesses were solely equipped to work in an office. With desktop computers and office landlines, outdated technology quickly made itself apparent as teams were forced to move operations to a work from home format.
No matter what tech tools you provide to your team, one thing is true – video conferencing is here to stay! Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or another platform, businesses all over the world have come to understand the time savings and cost efficiency that comes with video conferencing platforms. Remote teams should be provided with a laptop, phone or webcam that makes video conferencing quick and easy for tasks like screen sharing, recording meetings and audience participation.
Use slow periods such as holiday breaks to improve any tech glitches or failures that ultimately set your team back. Collaborate with your in house or contracted IT team to see how you can improve processing power to work more efficiently. Ask IT professionals to recommend a cloud storage platform to ensure all work is backed up in one location where it can be accessed if tech failures arise.
Take a Look at Your Communication Style
Working remotely is different than working in an office. Without an in-person presence, innate communications like body language are lost. Communication is key with remote teams, and communication breakdowns can slow down your team and cost big money in the long run.
If you’re the strong silent type, consider becoming more open with your team. Schedule weekly one-on-one Zoom conferences to get up-to-speed with each team member’s tasks. Use this time to get on the same page with expectations and deadlines, as well as develop stronger bonds with individual employees.
If you tend to micromanage, consider using an online workflow tool like Asana to keep on top of what team members are doing each day. You can add and see what tasks are being accomplished, eliminating the need to check in with team members too often. These workflow tools give all members of your staff, including management, the opportunity to feel like work is being accomplished without too many back-and-forth emails, phone calls or video calls.
Allow Time to Disconnect
Burnout is real, especially during a pandemic! Many employees say they’re actually working more hours now that they work from home, being that they’re always “at work.” This is contrary to the common management thought that “When the cat is away, the mice will play.”
To maintain work-life balance and avoid employee burnout, try to limit interactions to work hours outside of emergencies. Most employees understand that urgent matters arise, but if an email or phone call can wait until your normal operating hours, it’s best to allow the time for your employee to decompress and be refreshed to face the next day full force.
Working from home can be fulfilling and productive! Many of us are navigating working from home for the first time, but with practice, adapting and understanding, businesses can have incredible success operating remotely in the new year.
TTI Success Insights’ Working From Home Report can help identify your work from home style in a short 10-minute survey available for free online.
Jaime Faulkner is Content Manager at TTI Success Insights. Jaime believes authenticity and storytelling are the keys to successful marketing. As a graduate from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, she loves finding and connecting narratives. When she’s not at work, she’s psychoanalyzing contestants on The Bachelor, painting, listening to podcasts, or playing tabletop RPGs.