Working From Home
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During these incredibly uncertain and everchanging times, a lot of companies are finding themselves moving to a Working from Home (WFH) arrangement for the first time. With this comes a lot of planning, a lot of compromising and a team effort. However, when the planning is all said and done and you can mobilise your workforce to WFH, the next challenge begins. How do you keep your workforce motivated, engaged and not feeling socially isolated during these times?
For some employees who have their kids home all day due to school closures and a partner or grandparent on child watch, being able to move into the study or their dedicated workspace and shut the door may be some well-earned focused adult time! For others who may be a single parent or live by themselves, working from home and social isolation can impact ones mental health and with this the WFH idea becomes a very real and very scary dark cloud. It's all about keep your team positive and ensuring this transition is as smooth as possible. As a manager of 7 staff, all with different situations and working days, I feel we have successfully moved our bubbly little office remote in such a way that we are still achieving outcomes.
Here are my top 7 tips to successfully plan, organise, transition and maintain your employees during an emergency WFH situation:
maintain regular hours
KLC has a varied workforce of full-time and part-time employees, we are encouraging everyone to stick to their normal hours and not get sucked into being at their home desk any earlier than they would in the office. Instead, while we can use that time to go for a walk, practise your beginner yoga skills, throw the ball with your dog in the backyard, watch the beautiful sunrise with your first coffee. Anything that helps you relax into the day ahead.
create a routine
For me this has been adapting HOW we do, not WHAT we do at KLC by giving the team a sense of routine and normality. From our first WFH day I have ensured each team member receives an end of the day check in call to see how they are going - they also expect a good morning text in our chat group. Small yet impactful routines.
KLC has a 9@9 meeting every morning in the office, so when we moved to a WFH model we had to ensure this continued to create a sense or normality and routine. For the first week these were conducted via phone conferencing- yet the KLC team being the social butterflies they are have request we move to a video conferencing platform so they can see each other. Is all about adapting as we go!
Keep a dedicated workspace
Whilst working on the kitchen bench might seem like a good idea, often this can lead to many distractions. It often means you have to pack away your workstation at the end of every day. As of this week in my household, both my husband and I are working form home. We are fortunate enough to have a study in our house, however it is not feasible for both of us to work in the one office (my team may or may not have told me I am a tad loud on the phone). Being the problem solver I am we created a dedicated workspace for him in another area of our house. Using two trestle tables and his stand-up desk which he had brought home form work, we now have a fully functional, SAFE, dedicated workspace. The added bonus is he doesn’t have to deal with my loud HR personality to his more reserved finance personality in the same shared workspace. Get creative, these are unprecedented times, so it calls for creativity!
Socialise with colleagues
KLC are encouraging where possible, Zoom and phone conversations with each other rather than emails. We are also hosting ‘Social Fridays’ via Zoom, in which once we clock off for the workday we will all dress in fancy dress, have a drink and catch up on everything non work related!
KLC's Monday morning team meeting via Zoom!
This is one I cannot stress enough. For me over the past week, I have been ensuring I am in constant communication with my team, even more so than if we were in the office. At first I truly though that when I jumped on Zoom or gave them a buzz I would be a hinderance, however it has been quite the opposite, it has allowed them a platform to just chat, work non work, how they are feeling, whatever is on their minds. I have kept a barometer on this with all staff and the resounding consensus has been that they are enjoying more communication.
Pretend like you are going to the office
Now this does not mean I am going to pop my beloved heels on to walk the 7 meters form the bedroom to the study, but what it does mean is I am not going to turn up to my workday in my PJ’s.
It also means I am going to ‘arrive’ at my workday and follow the same routine I would if I was in the office, first thing coffee, second thing emails, third thing bills and so on. I am a meal prepper in my everyday life so this is something I have continued even when working from home, it means I am not tempted to eat something way more fun than a salad or spend my lunchbreak staring aimlessly into the fridge looking for all of life’s answers.
Keep it fun and be open!
Keeping your team positive and engaged and having a laugh shouldn’t stop because you are all working remotely. Every morning the team at KLC is set a different challenge or task for the day, so far some of our ideas have been photos of lunch breaks, kids/pets photoshoots and joke of the day. I encourage the team to share anything funny they stumble across in their day with the team. My other tip would be asking for feedback, this is not the time to ignore staff. Ask them if the WFH arrangement is working for them, or any bugbears, anything they are loving- just be open to the feedback don’t cut your staff out.
KLC and myself are not experts at Working from Home, however we are giving it our best old college try- and as a result the team is making me proud every day. It’s a hard time out there everyone, be kind to each other and send as many virtual hugs as possible!
If you are struggling during this time please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
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