The ongoing global pandemic has altered virtually every aspect of our daily lives — from grocery shopping to social settings, just about all of it has become totally new territory. But the area where we’re seeing some of the biggest impact is in the workforce. Millions of Americans and workers around the globe have made the transition into remote work, some saying it’s for the better while others are looking forward to getting back to business as usual.
However, some experts are suggesting that the WFH trend is far from over. According to Global Workplace Analytics, an estimated 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home for multiple days of the week by 2021.
Whether you and your staff are in favor or against working from home, one thing is for sure: it’s going to take some time to calibrate. From keeping in contact to dialing in productivity and work-life balance, there’s sure to be plenty of curveballs coming your way as you navigate this new normal. Luckily, there are plenty of resources (like us) out there to help you adjust.
In this post, we’re serving up four tips to help you boost office and team morale while you’re working from home.
1. Set your staff up with home office essentials
There’s really nothing more annoying or disruptive than a bad internet connection or unreliable technology. Whether you’re just trying to unwind with an episode of Stranger Things or attempting to meet a fast-approaching deadline, it’s essential to have your home office well-equipped with the best tools. Not only will having the best tech help ensure your employees are able to stay on-task, but it will also avoid frustration and declines in morale later on down the road.
There are a few ways that you can approach this:
- Issue office property to employees to be returned if/when they resign from the organization.
- Offer stipends to help employees pay for their own home office equipment.
- A little bit of both — perhaps you lend out computers and other hardware, but offer employees a $500 stipend to help them cover internet costs, one-time purchases of office equipment (ie. desk, chair, etc).
2. Keep communication clear + consistent
One of the biggest barriers that comes up in a work from home environment is a lack of organizational communication. When you’re separated by a couple of miles or even thousands of miles, you can lose that sense of interpersonal connection which can be a big challenge for many colleagues as they collaborate to get work done. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to lose out on this important workplace element.
By using video conference, voice calls, and internal chatting software you can fortify connections among remote team members and keep your workflow moving seamlessly. While it may look a little different and feel pretty new, many workers find this method of communication less distracting than the desk visits and in-person meetings of the past.
To help you optimize how you use video, voice, and chat, heed to these three tips:
- Schedule phone and video calls: Try not to request your employees to join impromptu calls. One of the best perks about working from home is the ability to work in your pj’s all day, so do your best not to catch your hard-working team members off-guard. If you need to ask a question right away, stick to email or internal messaging.
- Create space for colleague connection: While these tools should primarily be used for work-related operations, it’s important to your company’s culture to make space for colleagues to connect, especially when they’re not able to work in-office. You can facilitate this by setting up interest groups that meet up on occasion, or by creating channels for staff to connect via chat.
- Educate staff on communication channels: Every organization has their own preferences in regard to communication standards. Some prefer everything to be in-writing via email, while others like discussing business matters over the phone. Make sure your employees are aware of your communication preferences to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.
3. Use project management tools for task management
Although many of America’s remote workers say they’re more productive at home than in-office, many managers are weary of WFH options because they’re unsure how to monitor productivity and progress. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution: project management software.
Project management software allows you and your staff to keep track of tasks and projects on a daily, monthly, or long-term basis. You can break your to-do’s up day by day, assign projects to others, and easily collaborate when needed. When combined with a time-tracking tool, you can see exactly where productivity is going smoothly and where things are getting slowed down.
Check out these popular project management platforms to find one that suits your organization:
- Zoho Projects
Not only will these tools help you monitor productivity, but they’ll also help your staff stay more organized, motivated, and focused to work toward your common goal.
4. Encourage + establish a genuine work-life balance
Proponents of the “WFH life” often say that they find a more authentic work-life balance when they’re able to work where they choose. Some remote workers say they take less breaks, have improved focus, or enjoy the ability to travel and work at the same time, but not all are in favor of the lifestyle.
Some individuals find that they’re even more tied to their professional life when they work at home — likely because the line between home and work blurries when your bedroom or dining room table is also your home office. To combat this, it’s important for employers to prioritize and encourage a positive work-life balance.
Here are a few tips to help you do that:
- Encourage staff to take their PTO
- Make sure employees don’t work while they’re sick — health should be among your top priorities.
- Ask employees about their needs and perception of work-life balance with an anonymous survey.
- Watch out for burnout, and address it accordingly.
- Be flexible when possible, your team will recognize and appreciate this!
- Recognize that your staff have personal lives outside of work — celebrate this.
Whether or not you’re a fan of working from home, the reality is many of us will be in these circumstances for the foreseeable future. The good news is, there are plenty of ways you as an employer can keep both milestones and morale moving even when you’re OOO.
By setting staff up with office essentials, prioritizing communication, leveraging project management tools, and promoting a positive work-life balance, you’ll build a stronger team than ever. Did we miss any WFH tips? Share your experience and advice with us in the comment section below.
About the Author
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.