Town Talk Features

The Velvet Hammer: 4.20.22

Q: Although I made the decision for our office staff to work permanently from home, the transition has been more challenging than anticipated. Our team continues to grapple with organizational issues such as maintaining schedules, communications, morale and even self-care. Any advice?

A: Many organizations that asked employees to work remotely during the pandemic now have transitioned to a permanent work from home model. That said, it hasn’t been easy for many to adjust to this new scenario. Basic ground rules for working from home require a different business lens and strategy. Here are some thoughts for your team:

Communications

  • Overcommunicate. This is particularly important when you are working remotely. If you wonder whether a colleague or the staff needs to know something, share it.
  • If you don’t already have a remote work policy document, especially one that addresses working during a crisis, respective procedures and expectations such as work priorities, success metrics, work hours, have your HR person or HR consultant put one in place.
  • Apprise your team how they can reach you and specifically how you want them to communicate—phone, email, text, WebEx or Zoom. Don’t assume they know.
  • Tell them when to contact you—first thing in the morning or another timeframe or by sending you a daily or weekly update on their work. The more guidance you provide, the less misunderstandings will occur.
  • Keep your staff apprised of projects’ progress so they can remain proactive and keep them on track for longer-term goals. Consider a daily email with a list of projects and progress made that day. Create a system for sharing documents.
  • Resolve issues/possible conflicts quickly with a phone call.
  • Promptly return emails, calls and voicemails. Colleagues may find a four-hour response time as you putting them on the backburner.

Morale

  • Continue to stay aligned with your company culture. Little things you did in the office, i.e., sending funny GIFs or personal messages, all help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Check in with your team to see how they are doing personally.
  • Use video. Human interaction can make all the difference in productivity and their mental and emotional well-being.

Self-Care

  • Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alarm to stretch every hour or so. Standing desks also pay large dividends for overall health. Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and could increase your productivity.
  • Protect your time by setting “in office” hours and communicate these with colleagues and family.
  • Ergonomics—use the most comfortable chair that also offers back support. Consider investing in a hands-free headset.

Bottom line: Cut yourself some slack. Working from home can be a big transition. Any transition takes time to get used to, so try to go easy on yourself and your staff.

Joan Lee Berkman is a marketing and public relations consultant. if you have a question for Joan, send it to business@townandstyle.com.

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