In the past, working from home was seen as a flex-work opportunity used for any number of reasons: reducing commute times and the environmental impact of carbon emissions, accommodating employees who needed more flexible schedules, or the ability to hire more employees before upgrading to a larger office building. However, remote work is becoming more mainstream as businesses recognize the benefits of lower overhead and greater remote team and employee productivity.
Managing a remote work team has several benefits for a business’ bottom line. Remote work allows you to hire more employees without worrying about the extra office space needed to accommodate your team. It also provides businesses with a more flexible approach to goal setting and team management, while opening up the hiring talent pool to the entire country of remote workers.
To begin the transition to long-term work from home there are a few key pieces of the puzzle that need to fall into place first.
When employees no longer report to a physical office it may reduce the responsibilities of or eliminate some positions such as an office manager in their entirety. Additionally, your management team will be taking on some new responsibilities and perhaps need to work even more closely with their teams to meet their deadlines and goals.
Create a clear chain of command structure for your business, management, and individual teams. This step is even more important when you are managing a remote work team versus an in-person office team: communication is the number one key to successful remote work.
It is important for remote team members and their managers to know who handles what responsibilities. Because your employees can no longer drop in to a superior’s office, knowing who to contact and how to get in touch with them quickly can help you maintain efficiency in your business when the entire office is working remotely.
Make sure your clients know that you will be transitioning the entire office to a work from home structure. Send out a mass email or business bulletin to keep them in the loop. If you can, personalize each email with the contact information, work hours, and names of team members that will be responsible for each particular client’s project.
Transparency with your clients will give them confidence that you are making the move to remote work in an organized and efficient manner. This will also give them confidence that their projects are your top priority and won’t fall through the cracks during the transition period.
Set realistic goals with your clients during the transition, letting them know when they can expect completed assignments and projects. Keep an open line of communication with them as deadlines approach or change.
During the transition to long-term work from home make sure your employees have everything they need to stay on track to meet their deadlines. If possible, provide your employees with their own work laptops, printers, or other hardware they may require to work and attend virtual meetings.
Make sure that your employees have access keys to important shared software and design suites. If you are working from a shared document platform or a shared streaming platform, confirm that there are no restrictions for the number of users with different IP addresses.
Because you will no longer be face-to-face with your clients or your team members, opt for video calls and meetings over voice calls and phone conferences. If your clients are able to see you and your team members’ faces, you will be better served in meetings and presentations.
The nuances of communication can easily be lost over text, emails, and phone calls. A video chat or meeting gives both virtual team members and clients the ability to discern meaning, view presentations and ask questions in real time, and connect with your team members on a more personal level.
You may have worked in a particular office or position for years prior to transitioning to work from home. Home habits and office habits that used to be completely separate are suddenly intertwined as you find yourself working from home.
To increase your own productivity it’s important to create a virtual workplace workspace for yourself that is separate from your home life environment and allows you to stay organized and on-task. Keep personal and business files in separate locations so that nothing important gets misfiled, lost, or accidentally thrown away.
If your remote company provides you with a laptop for work, a good rule of thumb is to not use it for personal reasons at all. If you are using your own personal laptop or computer, organize your digital desktop to avoid any overlap.
Working in your sweatpants or pajamas might seem like an ideal setup but it can lead to bad habits. You don’t have to wear a coat and tie in your home office but do consider dressing in more work-appropriate clothing.
An added benefit of dressing for work means you can answer spur of the moment video calls without embarrassment. Dressing professionally on calls with your management, fellow team members, and clients gives the impression that you are a diligent and competent worker.
Even though you are at home it is a great idea to maintain consistent office working hours. If you are a team leader, a consistent schedule lets your virtual team know when they can contact you and when you will be expected to respond. Conversely if you are a team member, a schedule gives your management team a heads up about your availability so they can respect your time and hold you accountable to your deadlines.
Transitioning to working from home long-term isn’t without its challenges. However, if you provide your employees with everything they need to succeed, keep your clients informed, stay on schedule, and maintain open lines of communication, the transition can be a little less bumpy. Regardless of your position, remember to stay flexible, open, and understanding with your team as they transition to long-term remote work.
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