Promoting Productive Work from Home: 5 Tips for a Leader

Photo by Markus Spiske

Remote work is not a new concept, but under the current circumstances, it has become increasingly more popular in the business world. Some employees may find the transition from office to home to be difficult and have a hard time adjusting, making solid leadership more important than ever. If you are feeling unsure of where to begin, keep reading to find ways to be a leader while working in a remote setting.

1. Establish Boundaries and Expectations

Without the day-to-day office routines, the lines between scheduled working time and times to relax can become blurred through remote work. There are a few ways that you can bring a sense of normalcy to your work from home lifestyle by establishing boundaries and expectations with your employees.

Creating a work from home policy can help to create a clear sense of work expectations, while avoiding misunderstandings, employee exhaustion, and general disarray. Pass along important information to keep your employees in the loop and continue the cycle of knowledge sharing amongst your team. Remember to remind employees of company-wide best practices and performance expectations so there’s no confusion or ambiguity.

Be sure that when you are setting boundaries and expectations, you focus on the needs of you and your team, not just the company as a whole. This will help you function better overall towards your personal and company goals.

Since working from home is different than working in the office, your day-to-day expectations may vary from what you are used to. For example, you should consider flexible hours and team social hours to give employees the ability to separate themselves from their screens and work. Doing so can help give your employees a much-needed break that many often find it hard to prioritize in a work from home environment.

2. Focus on Communication and Feedback

Transitioning into remote work can be difficult for some, especially when it comes to losing typical face-to-face communication. Employees may rely on the routine and camaraderie they’ve created within the office to maintain a normal workday, so it is important to support them through this experience with open and honest communication. You can also take this time to learn how to improve your communication skills, as well as pass your learnings along to the wider team.

To do so, set up weekly meetings and check-ins with your team members. With each meeting, offer and ask for feedback on what you can do to support your employees. You do not have to always focus on work in your meetings; instead, personalize one-on-one meetings, get to know your employees, and check-in with them on how they are doing. By taking the time to truly talk and connect with your people you can build trust and make each workday more enjoyable.

Be aware of where the line may lay in terms of too much communication. Overcommunicating can create a stressful environment for your employees as well as be a sign of lack of trust. While you may not intentionally mean to, over communication can have the potential to be miscommunicated for micromanagement. Make sure that your form of communication is high-quality, transparent, and frequent but not constant.

3. Maintain Regular Work Activities

The 2020 State of Remote Work report by Buffer reported that employees experience various benefits and struggles of working from home. The main benefits being the ability to have a flexible schedule, work from anywhere, and not having to commute. The main struggles employees face are collaboration and communication, loneliness, and not being able to unplug. Keep this in mind as you continue to lead your team members in pursuits of their personal and company-wide goals.

A work-from-home lifestyle can leave employees feeling unfulfilled and restless. Create ways to maintain regular work activities such as mentorships, coaching, and learning opportunities. Activities such as these can boost employee engagement and motivation, leading to overall employee happiness as well as growth.

Find ways to create and follow up on goals with your team in terms of personal and professional development. This can motivate employees to excel, maintain productivity, and a sense of meaningful work.

4. Utilize Technology for Support

Whether you and your team utilized technology before transitioning into a remote work style or not, it is never too late to jump on the bandwagon. Now more than ever, there are programs that are designed to connect remote employees and help make work as functional as possible while not in the office.

Video chat programs such as Zoom can help to navigate large meetings better. With features such as break out rooms, a chat feature, and even reactions to support your co-workers without interruptions. Hive is a project management tool that teams can utilize to keep tasks and those responsible for them in order. Even better, Hive and Zoom can connect making meetings and organization a breeze.

Slack is the perfect tool to keep your team on the same page, feel connected, and ultimately complete your work. With the diverse options Slack has to offer, communication can feel easier than ever. You can create channels for whatever makes your work life easier.

For example, if you and your team start on a new project, you can create a new channel to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other without disrupting your day-to-day channel. You can use emojis and gifs for encouragement, set statuses, pause notifications, and connect various apps right through the program.

Besides, you can always apply a piece of software for task management and time tracking, such as actiTIME. With it’s support, you’ll be able to collaborate with your team members more effectively, stay in the know of project progress in real time and keep each of your remote workers accountable for their performance.

5. Encourage a Work-Life Balance

In some instances, remote work can blur the lines between the workday and your personal life. Whether you require a break or additional support, it is important to recognize the status of your employees as well. By taking the time to encourage a healthy and positive work-life balance, you and your team can flourish together.

One way you can do so is by supporting working parents. Whether that means you find ways to navigate child care together or adjust meeting schedules to reflect school schedules, doing so can provide parents with an immense sense of relief.

Take measures to encourage employees to take PTO and mental health days. Working day in and day out looking at a screen can become draining especially under stressful circumstances. While some may fear that taking time off can create more work and stress for when they return, it is important to remind employees that they are part of a team and you will all help accommodate each other’s work when possible.

No matter how you decide to lead your team, it is important that you remain connected and by utilizing these tips you may find that your team can work from home successfully. By taking a step back to identify the concerns of your employees while working remotely, you can make the proper changes needed in order to be the most productive, while keeping appropriate work-life balance in mind.

This article was written for actiTIME by Simon Clark, an Enlightened Digital business and tech contributor author.

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