One optimistic notion emerging from the current global pandemic crisis is that employer attitudes to homeworking will shift permanently as a result. I’m tempted to share this optimism but years of experience suggest that once the panic is over it’s more likely that many employers will breathe a sigh of relief; then order everyone back to the office claiming that while homeworking was great in addressing the emergency it’s not feasible as a permanent arrangement.
In order to convince employers otherwise it’s essential we demonstrate how successful working from home has been. So here are my tips for ensuring homeworking is a success for you; and provides your employer with the confidence to allow the arrangement to continue once the current panic is over.
- Ensure you and your team are very clear on what outputs are expected and in what timescales.
- Don’t get too hung up on exactly when the work is being carried out; but do ensure you have agreed deadlines – especially where the work of one team member depends on the outputs of another.
- Make sure everyone understands and is capable of using the technology. In the office it’s easy to ask a co-worker how to do something, less so when working remotely. If some of your team are less experienced consider buddying them up with another team member that has more technical expertise.
- Agee touch points during the day and week when you will make contact – either with individuals or as a team. And agree some core times when people can be contacted. This will overcome the frustration of not being able to reach someone; and the lack of trust that can arise. Remember that even in the office people can be away from their desks.
- If you move meetings online aim to keep them short. Attention spans are more likely to be reduced when just sitting and listening; and you cannot always tell if someone is engaged or distracted and multi-tasking.
- If you’re chairing the meeting; or indeed even catching up with individual members of staff by phone work to improve your listening skills. You may hear concern or hesitation in someone’s voice even if you cannot see their face.
- Remember to take regular breaks. Without office based interruptions work can become intensified.
- Look after your physical health. Hours spent crouched over a laptop in the kitchen or dining room can lead to musculoskeletal problems. Check your employer’s Health &Safety guidelines, stretch occasionally and walk around.
- Establish and protect your boundaries. It’s easy when working from home to get distracted. It’s also easy for others to assume you’re free to be interrupted. Make sure people know when you’re working and when they can interact with you.
- If you’re interested in upgrading your remote working skills check out the e-worklife site. Hosted by Coventry University it provides evidence based information and support.
Above all stay safe and remain mindful of more vulnerable members of your community. Enforced home working was not the way I saw us #rebalancing in 2020 but it does provide us with an opportunity to reconsider the way we live and work.