Working from home (WFH), the dream of many, but one few of us do well, is now the norm, thanks largely to the new 2020 reality aka Covid-19. As a solopreneur, I’ve largely been working from home for many years now, but there is an art to it. Here’s a quick guide for both employers and their staff.
- Make it as easy as possible for your staff;
- Provide staff with right equipment – a laptop and an internet dongle as a minimum. Keep in mind not everyone has internet with unlimited bandwidth;
- Make sure you provide direct access to your business, ie: your server etc if needed;
- Decide on your communication tools and stay in touch; set up protocols, etiquette and provide a ‘how to’ guide for staff;
- Communicate clear daily/weekly expectations for each staff member;
- Set up an accountability schedule – there are plenty of online tools to help with this;
- Schedule daily team catch-ups and one on one staff calls with business leaders;
- Encourage your team to contact you or your HR department immediately if there are any issues;
- Set up guidelines for acceptable out-of-pocket expenses;
- Be prepared to be flexible.
Most importantly, be understanding. Whilst you might want it to be business as usual, some staff will struggle with the WFH arrangement. Talk to your staff about the upcoming or current changes and work to help them through these challenging times.
- Start your day just like you were going to work. Use your normal commute to do something you’d normally never have time for;
- Manage your time:
- Start work and finish work at the normal times;
- Set boundaries around your time and space;
- Don’t forget to take your usual breaks;
- Plan your day – structure your day just like you would in the office – make a schedule and stick to it.
- Adopt a work first mentality. In other words, your usual work comes before you get side tracked with chores at home, socialising with friends etc;
- Create a dedicated workspace. If you’ve got a spare room and can shut the door and limit distractions great, but work with what you have. If you need to use the kitchen table, for example, use your usual commute time to set it up and finish five minutes early to pack up at end of day;
- Set your “work station” up as ergonomically as is practical;
- Ask your employer for the equipment you need;
- Become tech savvy. Talk to your employer about using Zoom or Asana for example;
- Communicate expectations – this works both ways. Your employer should do this daily but ensure you do the same;
Look after your mental health
- There’s a good chance you’ll get more done at home so talk to your employer about flexible working arrangements and work when you’re most productive;
- Remember to keep moving! It’s tempting to get stuck at the desk but getting up every hour and moving for five minutes, just like you would in the office, will help fight the afternoon slump;
- Forget about the chores and push aside all of those other distractions whilst you’re supposed to be working. Save those for your breaks;
- Interact with your co-workers as much as possible;
- A little too quiet? Consider turning on some music but only if it doesn’t distract from the task at hand;
- Got the kids at home or you and your partner both need to WFH? Talk to your employer, explain the situation and ask for some flexibility. Consider taking leave or “tag-team” and make the work-day as smooth as you can.
A learning curve
It takes time and patience to get the WFH equation correct. Truthfully, there are many people who enjoy the routine of going to the office and the daily commute and will never be comfortable in the WFH arrangement. The most important thing for those people and businesses forced into working from home is to balance their expectations with reality and adopt and understanding and caring attitude first and foremost.
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