In light of the current global focus on remote working, this is looking like it's going to be the ‘new normal,' at least for the foreseeable future. This means that you as the practice owner will need to help your team work from home so that they can work just as effectively as they would in the office. Here is how you can help your team members create their own working-from-home-routine that works best for them (and for you too).
Why is this necessary?
As the practice owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the well-being of your staff. If at the office, you'd make sure that they have the appropriate equipment and software, even down to the right environment, to make sure that everyone is as comfortable and productive as possible. When put like that, it's easy to see that the same is expected when you have a remote team (it's just the way you do that will be quite different!).
Working from home is a whole new ball game for people who haven't done it before. It's unfamiliar and can be distracting. With the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic and having the whole family home whilst trying to work too, it is that much harder. So why is it necessary for you to help your team work from home?
Helping your team members create a new routine:
- Provides them with structure and a sense of control.
- Gives them a sense of purpose and direction.
- Reduces stress and anxiety, as well as feelings of helplessness.
- Limits procrastination and increases efficiency.
- Increases motivation and productivity.
- Helps them create positive habits to carry them through difficult times.
By helping your team with their daily routine, you're investing time in them and therefore the future of your practice. This is essential to make it through this difficult time with as few battle wounds as possible, so here is how to do it.
2 ways to help your team work from home
1.) Introduce the 4 steps to creating a daily routine
We wrote a blog recently on How to establish a new (and successful) structure to your day covering the 4 main steps. This is what you need to introduce to your team to help them create a happier and healthier daily routine that makes them more productive.
Step 1 - create the core of your routine (covering the main 4 bases)
Explain to your team members that the core of their routine should be the minimum that they need to get done every day. It should also include the foundations of health (e.g. good quality sleep, healthy food and exercise) as well as things that make them happy.
Get them to write down what their day always has to include. For example:
- Work - they need to think about where will be best to work and what their hours will be.
- Family - they need to decide how and when they will spend quality time with their family.
- Food - they need to plan to eat healthily and set mealtimes with the family.
- Self-care - they need to think about how they will make time for themselves, when they will exercise, what time they will wake up etc.
Step 2 - discuss your daily routine with your spouse or family
Remind them to discuss their ideal daily structure with their spouse or family. What works for them, may not work for their children for example, so it's important for everyone to agree on when they will be working and when they will be spending quality time with them.
It's also important here to emphasise that you know it's difficult for everyone juggling work and family life and that's okay. If everyone has their routine and shares it with the team, then everyone has the right expectations and can work together better.
Step 3 - trial and adjust your new routine
One of the best ways to help your team work from home is to be patient and empathetic while they find their groove. Creating a solid routine while working from home is all well and good, but like most things in life, the hardest part is actually doing it consistently.
Show your team that you are understanding of their situation and allow them to adjust their routine to find what works best for them. For example, it could be working very early in the morning so that they can take care of their children in the day or vice versa. To help them establish positive habits, you could send out a tips sheet suggesting what makes a successful remote working routine. Tips such as:
- How to create a successful morning routine
- Every day should start with getting washed and dressed
- Set and stick to your office hours
- Review your performance and the end of each day and plan for tomorrow
- Ring or video call colleagues and clients rather than just emailing
- Take regular breaks and move around often
- Explore ways to become more efficient
- Reward yourself when you've ticked off difficult tasks
Step 4 - be consistent but open to change
Last but not least, it's really useful for your team if you remind them that things are constantly changing at the moment so they will need to be willing to adapt. First and foremost, encourage them to focus on consistency as the structure will be great for their wellbeing and will help them to create positive habits. However, especially in the current situation, they need to develop a growth mindset and prepare to be flexible.
2.) Stay connected and check in with them regularly
This next point is not directly about helping your team members create a new daily routine, but rather it is focused on you monitoring their wellbeing. It's essential for you to know how your team is coping throughout this time so that you can help them get through it, so stay connected with them and check in regularly. Here are some ways that you can do this:
Use online communication tools
Online communication tools like Slack and Google Hangouts are among the best options. Not only do they help you maintain a productive means of work communication, but they also open up a direct channel for personal chit chat, emojis and gifs that make everyone feel a part of the team.
Maintain a regular meeting schedule
Once you've helped your team members create a new remote working routine, you can help them maintain this by holding regularly scheduled virtual team meetings. This adds that extra layer of structure when working from home and it also does wonders for group productivity. Why? Because discussing team goals and which tasks are assigned to who helps everyone take ownership of their work and it holds them accountable.
Find new ways to collaborate
While communication and productivity are essential to success, how your team collaborates is the core ingredient for sustainable growth. Think of the best ways that your team can collaborate and share ideas while working from home and implement them. It has been shown that the best collaboration is born from interpersonal connections so try to fill this gap. While Slack and Zoom may be your primary means of work communication, try to introduce interest-based Slack channels for employees who share common interests. You could even start a book club, join virtual exercise sessions as a group or end each day by checking in on everyone's SMILE score.
Be responsive and pick up the phone
To help your team work from home, make sure that you practice what you preach and that you're responsive to their needs. Some people will struggle more than others during this time so you need to make sure that you're giving individuals the right type of support and reassurance. As many are craving social interaction, try to pick up the phone regularly just to check in with your team. You can tell a lot more about how they really are from a phone call so it's good practice to listen and make any necessary changes.
Get the most out of your remote team
Wellbeing and productivity are symbiotic so there's no point in just helping your team create a new routine and leaving them to it. To help your team work from home effectively, you need to give them the tools first (the 4 steps to creating a new daily routine) and then provide the support to ensure that they stick to it (stay connected and check in regularly). Only when you do this can you be sure that your team is working as productively at home as they would be in the office.