in the current crisis, many people, including managers, are working remotely for the first time. We have had multiple conversations about what’s required to make working from a home office productive while maintaining everyone’s health.
Here are a few short recommendations:
Choose a dedicated workspace
When you work from home, create a space apart from your private life. Even if it is only a dedicated part of your dinner table.
Pretend you are going to the office
Commute to your work space at home. Keep the work mindset. Set your alarm, have coffee, wear work clothes, and go to work. Just skip the traffic jams or subway crowds.
Maintain regular work hours.
Start when you normally would in the office and don’t skimp on breaks. Leave your work space when you typically would leave the office. Safeguard work-life balance.
Communicate and document what you are doing and what others will need to do. Be clear about expectations and accountabilities. Communicate when you start something – let people know when you are done. Make sure to document more than you would normally. Maintain an up-to-date shared calendar with your availabilities. (More on helpful digital tools below!)
For team leads and managers: facilitate updates and provide feedback more
Steal a note from the Agile playbook. Hold a 30min (max!) daily update video call at an agreed “start of the workday” time. Have everyone briefly talk about achievements, plans for the day, and where and when they might need help. Don’t let it become a kitchen sink meeting. Focus on headlines and ask everyone to have detailed discussions separately between people concerned.
Make it a priority to chat (not check!!) with team members frequently. Provide feedback (messaging, short calls) often and maintain team motivation and health.
Help ease pains caused by the unfamiliar situation. Support where you can and provide/obtain sign off for what may be required to make things work under the unusual circumstances. Exchange learnings ad experiences with your colleagues regularly and align policies where sensible.
Use digital technology to stay connected as a team
Working remotely requires a different toolkit (our suggestions here!). Email and mobile phone won’t suffice. Messaging, videoconferencing, shared whiteboards, and task management tools will help your team stay connected.
Use video in your calls
Where possible use video in conference calls. People get distracted easily during audio calls.
Set up Messaging software for topical real time communication
Messaging software allows to set up separate WhatsApp-like real-time communications channels for individual projects. Great for keeping everybody concerned updated – without the overhead of Email trails.
Brainstorm using shared whiteboards
Whiteboarding apps can facilitate the discussion of topics online. Templates and canvases included with some apps provide extra benefits.
Make team progress visible using task- or Kanban boards
Shared task- or Kanban boards help visualise who’s doing what as well as progress of topics and individual tasks. They also make for a great conversation starter in the daily update.
Get up – and keep a virtual social life!
Where you are allowed, get up and where possible out after work or during breaks. Have a coffee with your partner or roommate. Take a solitary walk in the park, go for a lone run! Play with your kids – throw sticks for your dog! Call your friends, write messages, share toilet paper sources and pasta recipes.
Stay safe and help flatten the curve!
All the best,