5 min read
Although remote working is nothing new, temporary remote work is the new normal for a lot of organizations during this time of uncertainty. When employees work remotely, it’s important to communicate the small adjustments that will be required. It’s not just equipment but also about the environment, working style and employees’ wellbeing.
As the Chief Technology Officer at Reward Gateway, it’s my job to make sure our people are set up for success no matter where they work from. Here at Reward Gateway, we have the privilege of being able to support working remotely full-time. We have also had parts of our workforce that have never worked from home due before, and have had to to quickly learn how.
For organizations that might not have a large remote workforce, have never encountered the need for remote work, or don’t have access to the resources or support I have at Reward Gateway, I understand that this transition is not easy and can be frustrating.
Because of that, I wanted to share some suggestions and lessons we’ve learned in adopting a more flexible remote working policy that may help during this time, along with some anecdotes to give you some ideas.
As an individual, and at Reward Gateway, I also realize that this privilege comes with being in a technology business and it may not be possible to extend it to all industries or organizations. However, it’s still important to keep staff informed and for managers and leaders to communicate clearly during this uncertainty, so our advice here remains.
As we learn ourselves and from our clients, we will be sure to continue to share best practices here. Let’s uncover some of the ways you can connect a dispersed workforce and help them feel comfortable with temporary remote work.
Setting up the right remote work environment
In our offices, we can provide a certain work environment for employees, but when they “work remote,” employees will need to exercise their good judgment and manage their own situation instead.
Everyone’s situation will be different, but encourage your people to do what works for them so they can be the most productive and efficient with their time.
Here are some tips for setting up the environment for temporary remote work, especially if for an extended amount of time:
- Ensure you are working in a private, quiet space where you can’t be easily overheard or disrupted.
- Keep your equipment somewhere safe and free from hazards - e.g. not next to the sink.
- Make sure employees are familiar with your IT policies.
- Keep in mind this isn’t possible for everyone. If your people can’t find a suitable space, have them connect with their managers and think of a different solution.
- Try to find a quiet space where you can concentrate – you can decide if this is a room in your own home or at a relative’s.
For one of our employees, Debbie Verney, Client Success Manager and Product Ambassador in Australia, setting up the right environment that keeps her connected to the company’s mission is especially important.
She says, “My number one rule is to have a dedicated work office/space with a supportive and comfortable chair plus a little sprinkle of RG with our Mission framed on my desk, an Engagement Bridge or two and few copies of some of the RG classics like, Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World-Class Employee Engagement and Crave: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday floating around.”
She adds, “I also try to walk around the house or stand for meetings, which is a good way to increase your movement throughout the day.”
And Craig Tanner, Senior Product Manager in the U.S. agrees. Working remotely is nothing new for him and here are some of his tips for establishing boundaries and being productive. He shares his tips, “The key for me is having work/home boundaries. I designate a spot in my house to work from and I try to treat that like a work environment."
Even though I hear about things going on (packages arriving or dishes that need to be done), I have a hard rule to only do that ‘after hours’ in order to stay focused. I also have asked my roommates not to disturb me when I'm in my office.
Alongside setting up your environment, the only other requirement for successful temporary remote work is of course a reliable internet connection. If your people don’t have access, let your IT team know and find some other options for your people. It doesn’t need to be incredibly special to support basic video calls or many of the services you’ll be using. Pro tip: if you can stream Netflix on it, you’re good!
Adjusting your management and reporting style
Even though working remotely is common, some of your people may not have worked remotely or worked with remote teams before. It’s important to remind your people that they are not on their own and they still need to communicate clearly with colleagues.
Staying connected with your people when you work remotely is even more important than when you work in the office.
Here are some tips for leaders and managers to keep remote teams connected:
|1. Use group channels on messaging providers like Slack to provide information and updates, not direct messages.|
|2. Focus on your team goals not your individual activity.|
|3. If you are a manager be clear about deliverables, dates, and decisions.|
| 4. Don’t be afraid to have a quick video or voice call either! Sometimes things get lost on email threads or messengers.
| 5. Schedule virtual 121s with employees at your regular time.
|6. Have daily stand-ups so others on the team have visibility into what’s going on.|
|7. Keep timezones in mind and give people adequate time to respond to your messages.|
One of our employees, James Holman, Retail Partnerships Manager in the UK, shared a video with his teammates (and the wider company) on a Slack group channel. This video is a great example of keeping motivation high during challenging times and he shared his top five tips for staying connected, including creating checklists and setting alarms to remind you to take breaks.
It’s our goal to make sure we keep our people informed, connected and motivated during times of uncertainty. These actions will hopefully help them maintain concentration and stay productive when they need to be and I hope this blog post equips your toolkit with ideas for keeping your people connected and navigating temporary remote work as well.
If you have any technology-related questions about setting your people up for success for extended remote work, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn.