Working Remotely During Challenging Times

From stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and face masks at the grocery store, who would have thought just two (2) short months ago, our world would change so drastically!

One the biggest challenges I hear from friends and colleagues is how they can effectively work remote, stay engaged with their teams, while balancing the demands of the family. With so many balls in the air, it can be very distracting and challenging to focus on what is important to your business life.

Here are some things that I find beneficial for success:

Communication – While such a simple thing, communication is even more important in today’s new dynamic. Without that ‘face time’, the opportunities for your staff to proceed down an unproductive path, churn or disengage are high. The old adage ‘out of sight – out of mind’ comes to mind after hearing so many different stories recently.

To help overcome this, setup daily ‘checkpoints’ with your staff. While you do not want to become intrusive or perceived as ‘micro-managing’, checkpoints are a great way to connect. And these just don’t have to be business calls! Spending a few minutes to see how everyone is doing. This helps keep people motivated and engaged.

Accountability & Expectations – Based upon many different studies over the years, this was one of the biggest challenges, even before COVID-19. Employees want to understand what is expected of them and how their role connects to the larger picture of business success, but without clear expectations they often feel lost and disconnected.

Spend the time outlining clear expectations of the people working remotely. Whether it be clearly describing the task required or outlining the specific deliverable dates, let your staff know your expectations. Implementing a visible action register is one great way to accomplish this.

Metrics – With many of us working remotely, leaders today struggle on how to maintain the focus on what is most important. This is especially true with leaders that attempt to ‘measure everything’ or use Excel spreadsheets that lose data integrity because they get emailed around.

Narrow the focus of the metrics you measure to those that truly matter and move the business forward. Implement a meeting process that reviews your scorecards on a more regular basis. The goal here is provide the information in a timely matter that helps your business react and adjust to these unprecedented changing market demands.

Remember, in many cases your staff can no longer walk down the hall to ask the questions. They are expecting you to provide an environment where they can feel and be successful!

Paul Campbell, Senior Vice President, Competitive Solutions, Inc

9 Tips to Maximize Productivity at Your Home Office Workspace

Whether you have realized your dream of working from home or found yourself caught up in a quarantine or shelter in place directive, setting up a workspace in your home, can be a challenge. Regardless of how your new workspace came to be, it is important to create a space that maximizes productivity through process and physical conditions.  

Tips for Creating a Productive Home Work Environment

  1. Clear the clutter -a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Make sure everything has a place and begin and end each day with a clean workspace. 
  2. Place something in your workspace that brings you joy -this could be an object, a painting, or a plant. Choose something that might bring back a memory, spark creativity, or just serve to bring a sense of calm. 
  3. Let light in -choose a space with ample light and whenever possible opt for natural light.
  4. Establish physical boundaries -a room with a door works best if possible. This will establish a physical boundary if other individuals are home and provide privacy for phone calls and remote meetings. 
  5. Keep a dedicated workspace -don’t leave work items all over the house. This will avoid misplacement and accidental use by another person in your home. 
  6. Check in with your senses -hearing, smell, sight, touch, and taste. Eliminate distracting noises, consider soothing background music or white noise.  Is your office space appealing to your sense of smell, sight, and touch; Is your chair comfortable?  Ensure you take a break to enjoy your café (kitchen); take the time to make a healthy lunch and enjoy it in another part of the house.  This will give you the mental break to re-engage.
  7. Ask yourself, do I have the right tools to do my job? – if the tools provided are not working for you, change them up and explore other options. What worked for an occasional Friday working from home, may not work now that your workspace is at home full-time. 
  8. Engage with others – check in with others, visually whenever possible. You still need to build and maintain work relationships.  Consider scheduling a virtual lunch or coffee break. 
  9. Establish your working hours and stick to them – this is important for both you and the other people in your house. This will cause less interruptions in the long run, if others know your work hours and can rely on you to keep them.  It is also good for us in general to take time away to focus on other things and reenergize ourselves; whether this be a game with your child, some exercise, or reading a book, it is important to take time out. 

What in your work environment would you change to increase productivity?

Tonda Tan, Business Proces Consultant/Coach at Competitve Solutions, Inc.

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