Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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8 ways to get people to work (productively!) from home


As an experienced leader, you know that if you can’t change it, you better learn to work with it. The events of recent weeks are a perfect example of this. Regardless of how concerned you are with the risk of the coronavirus, it is having a very real impact on our economy and the way we do business.

What can you control? You can be organized, informed and ready to work in new ways that bring confidence to your team and organization.

What remote work practices work?

Remote work is up 44% over the past five years. In the U.S., 4.7 million people work from home (that’s 3.4 percent of the population). In a recent survey, 74% of respondents believe that flexible working has become the new normal. Remote work is not new.

Here’s what you need to do to make it work for you:

  1. Make sure that people have the technology they need. Do they have high speed internet, reliable power (yes, really) anti-virus software, and access to video conferencing and project management apps. Get your IT department involved. Train your people to use the right tools and technology to keep things running smoothly.
  2. Set a schedule and maintain expectations. Keep working hours consistent. Have the 8am meeting every day to set the tone.
  3. Be extremely clear on deadlines and turnaround time. Post deadlines reminders often.
  4. Take this opportunity to reiterate people’s responsibilities. Tell your people what you need from them and allow them to share what they need from each other.
  5. Let your team know there will be more, not less, communication. Reiterate that this is not micromanagement – it is important as you continue to value their time and yours.
  6. Some communication will be lost when people aren’t around one another. Encourage instant messaging and project management apps to take the place. For some groups, texting might even be an option.
  7. In-person meetings and events may be compromised for a short while. Do not give up on the training and development that is imperative to your company. Continue to invest in your team with online training, webinars and courses.
  8. Journey said it right the first time: Don’t stop believing. This is the way of the future.

Bonus ideas:

  1. Start the day off with virtual coffee. Everyone can bring their own breakfast – much easier now!
  2. Have a state or region pride day – everyone wears their college or sports sweatshirts. Remember what you share in common.
  3. Hold a “What went well?” wrap up at the end of the day. Give the team a chance to brag or bring up issues.
  4. Have lunch together! Arrange for GrubHub or Door Dash to deliver lunch to everyone before the meeting.
  5. Ask for ideas. Your people are the best resource. Ask them what apps they are already using.

The hard truth:

  1. Some people will take advantage of the situation. These are the people that needed to be fired anyway. This is a great opportunity to find out who they are and act accordingly.
  2. Some people will face roadblocks – power outages, internet issues, and other tech challenges. Be patient and help them through it.
  3. This is harder than seeing people face to face every day. Be positive about the change. Your people need to see that positivity.
  4. Be ready for more one-on-one conversations. Pick up the phone and make the calls.

Stuff to worry about:

  1. Cybersecurity. Get clear on what you need to keep your assets safe.
  2. Employees ghosting you
  3. All the details. Where do the phones route to? Where does the mail go? What does the front desk associate do now?
  4. Sharing with your customers. Quick story: a restaurant in my hometown closed their doors for a week to go see their son graduate from Marine Boot Camp. They shared their plans in advance with a sign on the door. The community was 100% supportive and it actually increased their business and loyalty.
  5. Be honest with your clientele and your community. We are all facing changes from this turn of events and customers will be glad to hear that you are adaptive and taking the safety and personal lives of your employees seriously.

The coronavirus has pushed these changes to the forefront. Coming years will see more and more options for companies and their employees.  Have confidence in your resources, your team and the future.

Do you have a comment about remote work or a success story to share? We’d love to hear from you!

ps. Need some ideas on setting up or improving your working from home space? Click here.


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