These three tips can help you ensure your employees are engaged while working remotely during COVID-19.
For companies across all geographies and industries, workplace disruption due to COVID-19 is inevitable. Those that effectively manage the disruption will not only be well-positioned to maintain business operations throughout the outbreak, but they’ll be better prepared for future crises, too. With more and more employees working from home, managers have a greater responsibility than ever to help shape workplace culture and behaviors wherever that work takes place.
Following are three ways to help employees be productive and engaged while working remotely—along with practical tips for remote working productivity.
1. Build a strong virtual workplace infrastructure
At its core, a virtual workplace includes many of the same elements as a physical one: places to collaborate, share ideas and get work done. Yet it can take a Herculean effort to ensure each employee has the technology and tools to be effective in a virtual environment. From internal chat and messenger apps to videoconferencing solutions, equipping employees with tools to communicate—and providing training on how to use them—can make all the difference between a connected organization and a collection of people working in silos.
Here are some topics to discuss and tips to share with employees:
Workspace: Establish a specific, quiet home workspace, with comfortable furniture to work from. Keep a clean worksurface and ensure that there are no trip hazards nearby. Advice for creating an ergonomic workspace can be found here.
Internet access: High-speed and / or reliable internet access is essential. Bandwidth may vary throughout the day. Test your internet speed here.
Account access: Make sure you have access to all the accounts you will need to use and determine if you will need to use VPN access, a secure ID token or app to access your network.
Equipment: A laptop with a working web camera, headphones and microphone are recommended. If there is other equipment you will need to do your job, contact your manager or follow your organization’s process.
Contact information: To ensure you receive all communications, confirm your contact information in your company’s HR website or directory. Verify all information and correct any inaccuracies immediately. It’s important to ensure this information is always up to date as your company may rely on that data to reach you in case, for example, the network goes down.
2. Keep teams motivated and accountable
It’s important to recognize that employees will have questions and concerns about adjusting to the new work environment. Whether they need additional equipment or feel disconnected from the team, creating a dialogue with your employees and being compassionate is critical in this disruptive time. Additionally, creating structure can help to establish a sense of normalcy and help keep employees accountable.
Be responsive: Make yourself available to colleagues, respond to requests in a timely manner to build and keep trust. Establish protocols and expectations around response times.
Communication: Agree with your team on the communication channels will you use to stay connected and share documents. Keep a clear and frequent text / video communication and coordination going with your team and clients. Meet virtually with your colleagues or clients by using approved applications and software.
Schedule: Establish what hours you and your team are expected to work and determine how you will share your availability. Follow a work schedule, and routine, with specific working hours to avoid overworking. Be empathetic and understanding of colleagues who may have children and other responsibilities at home.
Security: Determine if there are security or safety measures that you need to practice, especially around data security. Do not save your work to your desktop, use approved cloud or shared networks so your work is secure and accessible anytime from any device.
Meetings: Agree on what tools your team will use to communicate and collaborate and ensure that everyone on your team has access to those applications. Start and end your meetings on time and try to join virtual meetings early. Consider setting up shorter meetings, for 25, 45 or 55 minutes. And always ask yourself: Are all these meetings necessary?
Etiquette: Be respectful of time. If you’re sending a direct text or ping, be aware of what time it is in their time zone and be considerate by asking if it’s OK to interrupt them with a question.
Progress tracking: Determine how you will check in with your team for updates and track progress on projects and tasks.
Community: Avoid isolation from your team by having virtual coffee breaks and making time for socializing virtually to give everyone a chance to catch up. Celebrate wins and keep people in the loop.
3. Provide practical tips to enhance individual productivity
Your employees may have disruptions with children home from school or multiple people needing quiet space for conference calls at the same time. Offering ideas to address specific challenges is needed, along with offering tips for ensuring some semblance of work and life balance.
Boundaries: Establish boundaries when working from home with those living with you so they know you’re “out of reach” if you’re at your work area or with your headphones on.
Health: Try to get up and move every hour. Sitting too long is not good for your health.
Professionalism: Be prepared to use video for meetings. The safest bet? Dress as you would to go to the office.
Schedule: Avoid scheduling too many conference calls back-to-back. Give yourself time to catch-up and take breaks, especially for lunch.
Tasks: Create a daily task list and be prepared to change your priorities. Having a list allows you to switch tasks and remain productive, regardless of unpredictable events which may occur at home.
Flexibility: If you would like to explore a more flexible work schedule to accommodate your situation at home, it may make sense to discuss this with your manager.
Variety: For some, it can be helpful to work in different areas of their home for parts of the day, for specific tasks or based on your mood, i.e. phone calls on your porch or balcony.
©2020 Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc. All rights reserved. All information contained herein is from sources deemed reliable; however, no representation, warranty or guarantee is made to the accuracy thereof or results. The information is merely a suggestion and should be implemented at the sole discretion of each individual.