The Ultimate Guide to Working from Home
At the beginning of 2020, many offices were forced to shut down and employees started working from home. Working from home has become the new normal and is likely here to stay for many companies, at least for the foreseeable future. There is a learning curve that comes with working remotely; employees have to adjust to their new day-to-day and employers have to find the most efficient ways to connect with employees and clients, while also keeping employees motivated, productive, and mentally healthy. Working remotely decreases a company’s overhead and gives employees more freedom, but it can also make it more difficult for employees to separate their personal life from their work life. The success of a remote workforce relies on a company's ability to make employees feel trusted, prepared, connected, and healthy.
A successful remote workforce is created based on trust and professionalism. Employees who are treated with trust and respect will be more motivated and relaxed while working from home.
Being in a structured work environment makes it a lot easier for employees to bond with co-workers and managers, so remote organizations need to be resourceful when it comes to building and maintaining relationships that cultivate trust with their employees. They should also strive to create a culture and environment that enables employees to build trust with one another. This can be accomplished by encouraging virtual happy hours, lunches, coffee breaks, and hosting company-wide meetings.
Provide the Tools and Technology Needed to WFH
Working from home eliminates the need to rent office space, but employers still need to supply employees with the tools they need to be successful. An employee should be well-equipped with a laptop, mouse, keyboard, server, and whatever else they may need to successfully work from home.
In addition, employers may choose to offer employees a stipend, discount, or reimbursement to get any other office supplies they may need to succeed. Very few employees had a home office set-up before remote work was enforced, which means they may be working from inefficient workspaces, and are in need of office supplies. Employers will benefit from supplying employees with the means to have an ergonomic office space because it drives focus and productivity.
Studies show that working Americans spend up to 7 hours per day at their desks in front of their screens, which can lead to chronic back pain, headaches, and blurred vision. Ergonomic office supplies, like desk chairs and laptop stands, can reduce back pain and discomfort, which will keep employees focused longer. Employees can also try wearing computer glasses on screen-heavy days to decrease the side effects of excessive digital interaction. Designated office space and equipment will also provide employees with a more centralized workspace, making it easier for them to separate their personal life from their work life.
Prioritize Communication and Connectivity
Remote success also relies on an employer’s ability to communicate with employees and clients consistently. To assure that goals are met, employers should carry out the following communication practices:
1. Use a messaging tool like Slack to chat with employees internally.
2. Use other communication tools like Google Meet, Google Docs, and Google Calendar to video conference, share documents, and schedule regular check-ins internally and externally.
3. Use a virtual assistant to answer calls and schedule appointments with clients while your company is working remotely.
4. Have managers host weekly or bi-weekly office hours to answer questions and address issues.
These communication practices will give employers, employees, and clients the opportunity to stay up-to-date on projects and timelines.
Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
When working from home, employees often feel as if they should be working around the clock, which can eventually lead to higher levels of stress and lower levels of productivity. Employees need separation between their personal lives and professional lives, which is hard to accomplish when their personal space is also their office space.
Employers should make mental health a priority by encouraging employees to take frequent breaks throughout the day, use their PTO when needed, and log-off at the end of the day. To further accommodate employees, employers should also consider flexible schedules, which allow employees to work hours that differ from the typical 9 a.m.-5 p.m. time frame. This gives them the opportunity to start the day when they are most productive and offers them time to accomplish personal tasks, like going to appointments or caring for children. Establishing healthy boundaries between work and personal life will increase productivity because employees will feel less burnt out.
At the end of the day, remote work will likely be common practice going forward. If employers and employees take the time to evaluate work from home policies and practices, everyone will benefit!