The UK has seen the number of people working remotely from home steadily increase in recent years. According to the Annual Population Survey (APS) by the country’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), published in March this year – just before the full impact of Covid-19 kicked-in – around 1.7 million people in the UK mainly work from home with another 8.7 million saying they have worked from home at some point. Of course, the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have ramped-up remote working.
There’s no doubt that there are some benefits to working from home we can all enjoy, including increased flexibility; the time, cost and environmental damage saved in commuting; improved work/life balance and the chance to work around young children or elderly relatives. But WFH also brings its own issues, especially for the inexperienced. These range from accessing tools and information and a lack of supervision and social isolation to a tendency to lose focus by being distracted by domestic tasks. So in this article we’re going to take a closer look at WFH and provide you with four strategies to support your team when working from home.
Four strategies to support your team when WFH to keep morale and productivity high
With a report by software firm Citrix in the UK finding two-thirds of people believe working from home will become more common post-Covid-19 and most companies’ internal surveys supporting those findings, here are four expert-backed strategies to support your team when working from home. Below, you’ll discover:
- When ‘face time’ matters most
- How to make the most of today’s communication tools
- When dedicated workspaces deliver better results
- What a work/life balance should look like for those WFH
- How technology delivers the benefits of WFH
- Working from home can be a win-win situation
When ‘face time’ matters most
From meetings, pop-bys and drop-ins to chats around desks, corridors, copiers, coffee machines and staff canteens, the traditional workplace provides plenty of ‘face time’ hotspots for social interaction.
Connecting in-person is empowering for staff, ensuring they are both seen and heard. Without those every-day and impromptu get-togethers, remote workers risk being cut adrift.
That’s why it’s important to establish daily check-ins with employees. Employers should set these up on a regular basis to enable the recognition and acknowledgement each individual needs when working in, and contributing to, the team.
Managers and staff are free to choose the time of day and communication form, for example video versus phone call, in line with whatever works best for the team. What’s vital is that the calls are regular, predictable and provide a forum for consultation, two-way communication and for voices to be heard.
How to make the most of today’s communication tools
The standard e-mail and telephone call are just the jumping off point for better communications with remote workers. There’s never been more technology available to enable everyone to connect face-to-face, so establish the preferred tool for your team and use it for your regular check-ins.
You can opt from video applications like Zoom or Cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft 365 or Google Google Workspace (which we provide expert WFH remote IT support for) to provide video conferencing. The latter also provide instant messaging and online meeting services.
Video conferencing definitely delivers a richer connection with colleagues as emotional, facial expression and body language cues can all get lost in voice-only calls. What’s more, research has shown that visual recognition memory is superior to the auditory equivalent
There’s also a wide range of instant messaging apps you can add to your toolkit for fast and simple communications when time matters, such as Slack. As we mentioned above, Microsoft 365 and Google Google Workspace provide these, too.
When dedicated workspaces deliver better results
No one works well at home if they’re curled up on the sofa with their laptop trying to achieve the goals of your business while in the spot the usually occupy to watch Netflix and catch up on their social media feeds.
As Jen A. Miller, writing for the New York Times, so aptly put it, ‘Pick a spot for your office. It doesn’t have to have a door, but it should be away from distraction.’
We all know it’s not easy to replicate the office at home but try to have your remote workers set up a designated space so they can work as comfortably, efficiently and without distraction as possible. They could use a spare room or bedroom or even an unused corner and set up a desk there, along with anything else they might need.
Designating a space will not only facilitate their transition to ‘work’ mode. It also establishes boundaries with the other people at home, such as their partner or children. If your people have the room to create a proper workspace, you could formalise their transition by providing them with the tools and equipment they need – from technology and software to basic supplies like chairs and tables.
What a work/life balance should look like for those WFH
You need to make sure your people maintain a suitable work/life balance especially when working from home. Trying to sort the laundry while on a conference call or responding to work emails on the phone during a family dinner means neither activity gets the attention it deserves.
In today’s always-on, fully connected world it’s more important than ever to stress to your team that you value their right to disconnect at the end of the workday. In fact, they should try to stick to the same office hours as their colleagues and as they would usually work. You can help in this regard. For example, if you find yourself firing off a late night e-mail, include ‘No need for immediate reply’ in the subject line.
One other point: most of us who are used to working in an office have the evening commute to provide a natural transition back into home life. Those that work at home have to find a new way to replicate this, even if it’s going for a quick walk, enjoying a chill out in the garden or just moving to the couch.
How technology delivers the benefits of WFH
As the Coronavirus pandemic has proven, IT is the great enabler of people who want (or must) work remotely from home. In fact, WFH is heavily reliant on you and your team having access to the right, available, robust, reliable and secure Cloud-based technologies, as well as the right remote IT support necessary to keep those technologies performing and productive.
However, once your people work from home with remote access to your IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential customer information, the cybercriminals can start to circle looking for easy pickings. Ensure you have robust cybersecurity policies, best practices and controls in place to mitigate risk so that your people, processes and systems are all set up to be able to identify, stop and eliminate threats.
Working from home can be a win-win situation
With the right attitude and mindset, a few changes to company operations and culture plus a fair sprinkling of trust and good faith, remote working can deliver many benefits for both employer and employee. What’s more, those benefits can be enjoyed while the fabric of your organisation is maintained.
One of the key benefits of remote working for business owners is that, according to a US-wide study by Change Research, over 60% of people who work from home report that they are more productive. Another plus is the chance for your enterprise to reduce the size of the offices they need along with the overheads associated with it. As Jes Stanley, CEO of Barclays, said in response to a PwC survey which found a quarter of chief financial officers were considering cutting back on their real estate, ‘The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past.’
Once you’ve got your team and the technology they need set up for work at home, consider the specialist WFH IT support you’re going to need to keep your people connected, motivated and productive. The highly experienced and specialist professionals here at WFH IT Support – part of the Feefo Gold Trusted Service award-winning totality services team – can deliver the expert IT support all your home working staff using Cloud-based solutions, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Google Workspace, need. And that’s no matter where they are located across the UK.
If you’d like to know more, please just contact WFH IT Support for a confidential, no obligation chat.