Even before the current pandemic, working remotely was growing in popularity. According to a Gallup survey, 43% of Americans work from home at least occasionally. And U.S. Census data reveals that about 8 million U.S. workers—5.2% of Americans—completely worked at home in 2017.
These growing numbers of work from home (WFH) workers mean more managers are managing from home—including those who manage maintenance teams and technicians. At first, this task can seem fairly daunting – after all, it can be difficult enough to lead and motivate a team that’s all in one physical location, let alone one that’s diverse geographically.
That’s why we’ve developed this blog post. It offers tips and suggestions for getting the most from your WFH team—and how to help those teams get used to a new way of working.
- An updated team is a motivated team.
When people aren’t sure about what’s expected from them as individuals and as part of a team, their uncertainty can quickly result in reduced production and low morale. To avoid this, keep your team motivated with ongoing and frequent communications. The goal is to make sure people always know when to expect an update, even if there sometimes is little to update them on. And note that this doesn’t mean calling every day to “check in” (a.k.a. micromanaging)—a team conference call a couple times a week should be enough.
- Ask your employees how they’re feeling about working from home.
Many people take a while to adjust to working from home. Emotions can run high and there are distractions everywhere. If your HR department conducts employee engagement surveys, use them to gauge the mood of your remote workforce. And if you don’t typically use surveys, work to gain an increased sensitivity to the signals your employees are sending so you can modify the environment to be more responsive to their needs.
- Tap into the power of video conferencing.
Done correctly, a video meeting can go a long way toward helping employees stay in touch with each other. But you won’t achieve the desired effect if their cameras are off. While they may be uncomfortable at first, video meetings can give everyone some much-needed social interaction. For any video conference, employees should dress as if they were at the office. And make sure they check the background of their webcam shot and remove anything inappropriate or distracting. Finally, consider holding weekly all-employee video conferences to enable employees to hear from their executives directly. Employees can also submit questions to the execs.
- Build in some sharing time.
Encourage employees to share working from home experience and tips—what they find challenging, how they stay focused, productivity tips, and so on.
- Help employees adapt to the new world of working from home.
According to a story in the New York Times, these are some of the steps that can help employees work productively and effectively from home:
- Keep the Same Schedule: Recommend that employees stick to the same schedule as when they went into an office. “If you checked in with the same person every morning, check in with that person,” suggests the Times.
- Set Boundaries: As much as it’s possible, create a dedicated spot for your office that is as free from distractions as it can be. As a manager, be aware of the challenges some employees may have working from home—from watching young children to home schooling older ones. You may need to adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Schedule Breaks: Suggest employees put exercise, stretch, coffee and lunch breaks on their calendar as if they were meetings—meetings that they can’t cancel or change unless it’s absolutely necessary.
- Enjoy the “commute” home: At the end of the day, WFH employees should neaten their office space, close their laptop, and take a couple of deep breaths. This will help them stick to a routine while enjoying one of the benefits of working from home—an extremely short commute.