How to Work From Home With an Open Mind and Positive Attitude!
Here are my top tips on how to maintain a productive and positive team in the face of the worlds biggest work-from- home experiment!
The world is about to undertake the biggest remote working experiment. An occurrence that would never have happened outside the extreme circumstances that we are experiencing in today’s challenging times.
Our first thoughts may be
- loss of revenue
- reduced productivity
- lack of communication.
Paranoid managers imagining employees watching endless Netflix series, up all night playing computer games, and not using video on Google Hangouts as the bed hair is too much of a giveaway after a 2-hour midday nap.
The truth is that the only way to approach this is with an open mind, a positive attitude, and a people-first approach.
Many brands have experimented with work from home policies. Zapier having a completely remote workforce serves as a great example of astonishing results if done correctly.
The CEO of Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency (perhaps not anymore) embarked on a groundbreaking study with Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom. In a two year study, they monitored two groups of 500 people: one worked from home and the other from the office.
The study showed an astounding productivity boost. Work from home employees work a full day as opposed to an office ‘full day’. Less sick leave, shorter breaks, no lateness and a huge savings in rent. Bear in mind that work from home employees had to have a private room with good broadband - the perfect way to market my mancave project to my wife.
My goal is to seize the opportunity and increase productivity. Here are a few core elements to my plan:
Distraction is the enemy. Comfort is your ally.
Just because we are at home does not mean we, need to work in bed with a laptop, not shower and stay in our pajamas. Take a shower, dress to impress and take it seriously.
Create a home office that includes all the equipment and gadgets that allow you to focus on the task at hand. You can never underestimate the power of a comfortable chair and a decent size screen, free from distractions like the TV, kids and a fully stocked fridge of beer and snacks.
As mentioned in the Ctrip case study, a private room, free from inquisitive children, well ventilated with plenty of natural light will help you stay organized and energized.
Family Fusion. Have a timetable.
If you are like me, then you also have a family which makes focusing a challenge. Having set times in which both you and your family know you are working with no/minimal disruptions is key. Breaks are a necessity and they should be in line with your family's needs.
Lists, lists, lists!
The importance of this can not be overemphasized, without a doubt, it’s the most important tip.
Each day, you should create a list of tasks that need to be completed. With smartphones and multiple apps, this is quite easy to do, I prefer pen and paper.
On a team management level, these daily tasks need to be clearly defined, shared and transparent. Encourage your team to set their own deadlines and take ownership of their tasks. A task management tool to manage a team is a must. If you don’t have a tool like monday.com, google sheets will do the job.
Tasks shouldn’t run into each other. As one is finished, cross it off and move on to the next. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and serve as a way to positively reinforce your work drive and overall morale.
Deadlines are key. When working in an office, there are occasions when overtime comes into play to ensure tasks are completed. The same goes for remote work but you will find that if your team owns and manages their time well, productivity will increase.
Crank up the communication.
In an office environment, we are in close proximity and communication is effortless. This should not change. Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, phone calls, Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, email, SMS, two plastic cups connected by string - there is no shortage in today’s society in terms of communication platforms. Take your pick and keep the channels open.
Have clearly set meeting times. We now have two dailies first at 10 am and then another at 4pm. The morning meeting allows us to clearly define our day’s todo lists, with a follow up in the afternoon. A defined routine allows the team to set their own timetable for that all-important work-life balance.
Out of sight is not out of mind. We all have our own personal troubles and strifes without the added pressures of COVID-19 lurking around the invisible corner. Don’t let your team feel isolated, be empathetic and keep them engaged. Check-in on them regularly, keep spirits high and make an extra effort to be approachable.
Time to Rebel.
We are all part of an experiment that will test the future of commerce and employment - cool right?
As the tides may be turning, its an opportunity for us to test something new. Try new technology, push the boundaries of campaigns, evaluate our methodologies, check new concepts, develop new skills.
Success favors the bold.
Encourage the team to use this newfound freedom to own their s**it, deliver value, keep customers front of mind, commit to the big picture, move fast and learn quick, exceed customer expectations and meet their goals to put wins on our board - values we aspire to here at Novarize.
Working from home isn’t an easy task. It requires a huge amount of dedication, passion, focus, and self-discipline. COVID-19 poses additional challenges by having the family home with us, perhaps locked up for days with a lack of personal space.
A personalized, distraction-free workspace, clearly defined todo lists and a structured timetable is the winning formula for work-from-home success.
Trust in your people and be appreciative of their impact and commitment. Give them the opportunity to excel, the authority to take ownership, contribute to the team and the support they deserve to achieve their goals.
Novarize has an amazing team of talented individuals and it’s with great excitement and anticipation that I look forward to seeing how we adapt and embark on this journey together supporting brands through this challenging time.
Please comment below with your top tip for keeping your team productive and positive when working remotely!