7 Proven Ways To Support Your Work-From-Home Team
As the country turns to remote work to battle the spread of COVID-19, business leaders are turning to remote work pros and veterans to help us make the most of this new situation.
We want to help employees unlock creativity and productivity, not just hand them their laptops and say, “keep in touch,” says Jessica Lessin, Editor-in-Chief of The Information, a tech news company that hosted a Zoom webinar featuring pros from Slack, GitLab (an all-remote employer), Humu and On Deck. It’s an impressive group of people, check them out here.
As a team leader, it’s not just about ensuring your teams are productive, it’s also about making sure they’re ok. These are unprecedented times and they are taking a toll on each and every one of us. As a leader, this is an opportunity to lead with empathy, boldness, flexibility, creativity and kindness — and it’s how we should be leading all the time.
Here’s the biggest lesson I took away from the conversation:
1. Get adjusted to asynchronous work.
We are still functioning with the assumption that in-person is an option, but it is gone for now. We have to find new ways to get the work done. Slack is a global company and routinely has to ensure that its international locations have seen a document, or “had a chance to go around the world.” Here’s what they’ve learned: Most things can wait. Everyone in the organization must start operating under the assumption that they aren’t supposed to reply to everything right away. Tell your team that you will not expect an answer unless something is explicitly marked as urgent or develop a protocol for urgent matters and let everything else rest. Make sure your team understands this expectation — it takes a lot of pressure off and allows workers to maximize control over their cognitive time.
2. Maintain good meeting hygiene.
Make meetings efficient and productive — a big part of this is good synchronization of information and documentation. This may mean keeping information in project management software, Slack channel or Google Doc. GitLab has a very specific process for its meetings:: Each meeting invite has a link to a Google Doc where the agenda lives. This document includes all links relevant to the meeting and its where the group collaborates to write out notes for each meeting. Documenting discussions is even more important when they happen online, even though it can be tedious, it ensures everyone is on the same page.
3. Normalize the distractions.
Slack’s CMO recently held a video conference with her two daughters on her lap as a way of normalizing the reality many working parents face. As a leader, it’s important to demonstrate — over and over again — that these distractions (children, dogs barking, spouse in the background, etc.) are ok. Minimize any employee feeling self-conscious about the situation so many of us share.
4. Don’t try to recreate the office experience.
While there’s a lot of advice out there about getting dressed and sitting down at a desk like you would on a normal day, trying to fully recreate your office experience can be a mistake. Without the experience of interacting with other people, recreating the office is actually detrimental. Take advantage of the benefits of working from home. Go for a walk. Take a break and enjoy some quality time with your kids. Get some sun on your face. Allow for asynchronous work.
5. Cameras on.
There’s a lot of physical cues that happen during an in-person meeting and you miss those if your camera is off. It’s tempting to multi-task if you’re on the phone. And it’s nice to actually see other people these days.
6. Be intentional about creating social interaction.
Without the regular interaction of co-workers passing in the hallway, meeting in the break room and stopping by each other’s cubes, that social interaction is missing. On Deck keeps a “dining room” line that they keep open all the time so people can drop in and out to take a break and connect. They also have “carpool” meetings with co-workers where they don’t discuss work and dinner clubs where people can sign up for slots to attend. It’s not just that people miss their co-workers, it’s also that this is an important way work gets done.
7. Design your work-from-home culture.
GitLab has a remote work manifesto that declares its most important beliefs on working from home. You know I love a good manifesto, so maybe it’s time to set up your own company manifesto for this time period. Things like, “Nobody cares that your kids are interrupting you; don’t waste breath apologizing,” or “It’s ok to not respond to a message right away,” or “Set aside time for socializing,” or “Cameras on!”
The reality is that we will not come out on the other side of this thing unchanged. Now is an opportunity to hone your leadership skills and also to develop the means to generate better, more productive and more valuable remote work practices. Yes, this is temporary, and it’s also hard. But we are learning from each other, together.
This article was written by our amazing writer Michelle Huffman. Have writing needs, please reach out to Michelle on LinkedIn.
Founder | UnleashWD
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