Tips for Telecommuting Success

Tips for Telecommuting Success

Tips for Telecommuting Success

 Separate work life from home life.

Establish ‘do not disturb’ guidelines, work hours, break times, and a policy on handling personal matters. For example, no doing dishes or laundry or taking out the trash during work hours. Treat your home office as if it were a ‘real’ office located somewhere else.

Get “ready” for work.

Although it may be tempting to lounge around in your pajamas, experts highly recommend showering and getting dressed as if you were heading to a workplace. As far as attire goes, you probably can get away with shorts and a T-shirt in warmer weather or heavier clothes in colder weather. Keeping your usual morning “ready” ritual can include a brief walk or bike ride before your office hours.

Establish “office” hours.

While telecommuting offers lots of flexibility, you’ve still got to stick to a schedule. If you don’t create a window of time for your job, you’ll either work around the clock or put off your work.

 Set up the proper environment.

Carve out a space in your home that’s your dedicated workspace. Ideally, the space should have a door so that you can shut out noise or interruptions. Your workspace shouldn’t be at your kitchen table or in your bedroom, experts say. Keep your physical desk and desktop clean.

Make a to-do list

Plan your day, including breaks for email. If it takes < 5 minutes, don’t add it to the to-do list. just knock it out and give yourself a quick win.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Check in at least once a day by email, online chat, phone or videoconferencing with your managers and coworkers. Track your work progress so you can quickly give updates on deliverables.

Don’t constantly monitor your cellphone.

Setting your phone to silent or turn it off altogether when work demands most or all of our attention. The same advice can apply to checking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks throughout the day, unless that’s a key part of your job.

Park downhill

End your day thinking about what tomorrow’s to-do list will be and in a place to dive back in. The best thing you can do to end your day successfully, is set yourself up for the next day.

 

These tips were compiled from the Huffington Post & Tech Republic 

Wellness & Telecommuting

Maintaining my health and wellness

Keep a regular schedule: Create and maintain a routine and schedule. Set up a designated space for you and each family member to work and learn. Don’t forget to include periodic breaks for recharging in your schedule. Although everyone’s schedule will be different, here is a sample:

    • 7:00 a.m. – Wake up, stretch, take care of kids/animals
    • 7:30 a.m. – Breakfast and family time (technology free!)
    • 8:30 a.m. – Work and check on updates with small breaks every 30 minutes or so
    • 12:00 p.m. – Lunch break, get fresh air, stretch & exercise
    • 1:00 p.m. – Work with breaks every 30 minutes, check in with co-workers
    • 5:00 p.m. – Dinner and screen break! Call a friend, family, or loved one
    • 7:00 p.m. – Self care time

Stay connected: Stay connected with family, friends, and support systems using technology like FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangout and other video-based options. Talk about your fears and concerns with people you trust. Chances are they are feeling the same way.

Keep your immune system strong: Make a commitment to staying strong by:

    • Washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds (about two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song)
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Eating well and staying hydrated
    • Taking vitamins

Prioritize personal hygiene and limit contact with others: This is imperative to avoid spreading the virus. Here’s what should be done:

    • Again, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer regularly.
    • Use a tissue to cover your sneeze or cough, or when unavailable, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
    • Disinfect with anti-bacterial wipes areas and objects that are heavily trafficked or are touched regularly where you live and work.
    • Avoid contact with those who are sick and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.

Exercise and stay active: This is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health. Periodically, get up and move around your home. Walking, stretching, planks or jumping jacks—whatever works best for you to reduce or alleviate stress and increase endorphins. While our favorite gyms and fitness centers are closed during this time, many are offering free livestreams or app-based workouts for members and the general public, so check online to see what’s available.

Get fresh air: If circumstances allow, go outside for a brisk walk and fresh air, but avoid crowds and try to maintain the recommended 6-foot distance with others.

Stay informed: Knowledge is power, and it’s good to stay updated on progress being made in combatting the virus. Stay informed on the latest updates from reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Limit media consumption: Avoid continuous exposure to news, media, and social media that may trigger or elevate anxiety, stress, or panic. Stay informed by following few, authoritative resources, but limit media consumption.

Set boundaries on work schedule: When working from home, be sure that you are working reasonable hours. It can be tempting to work more while you have your work at home, however it can also be taxing on your health and well-being, so stick to a schedule with healthy boundaries.

Distract and redirect: Engage in activities that benefit your well-being, bring you joy and distract you from existing challenges. This might include meditation and yoga, often offered free online. You may also enjoy journaling, reading, art projects, cooking with new recipes, breathing exercises, or listening to a calming podcast or music.

Get creative to stay connected: Share tips with co-workers and friends on what’s working well for you and encourage them to do the same. Come up with new ideas like planning a Google Hangout to exercise together – try one-minute planks, 10 jumping jacks, or whatever you decide, just keep it simple. Share photos of pets enjoying the new routine. Watch movies at the same time while texting or on Skype. The sky’s the limit on creative ways to stay connected.

 

Information taken from the American Psychiatric Association. View the full guide here.  

Managing a Telecommuting staff

General Tips & Tricks 

Teamwork. Treat telework as a team activity rather than an individual one, whenever possible. Develop a team schedule, rather than an independent schedule, and a teleworking system that is consistent with the needs of the department and organization.

Virtual presence. Instant messaging systems can be used by team members to check in each morning, and change status when they will be away from the computer for more than a few minutes. Using a rotating system, one team member can also lead a virtual water cooler chat with a question or comment for team members to respond to once or twice a day. Transparent communication tools like shared calendars can also be useful. In addition, advanced collaboration tools such as video conferencing may also be considered.

Customer service. If your team members interact with customers, make sure service-level support requirements in communicating with customers are clearly defined. All team members need to agree to meet the same service levels to ensure transparency to the customer. Commit with each other to an acceptable response period for email inquiries or phone calls.

IT support. A common reason for teleworking dissatisfaction is IT failure. Teleworkers are dependent on fast, reliable, consistent connections. Work with your IT group to ensure the technology is effective, efficient, operates consistently and provides excellent customer service. IT department involvement and support is critical to your success.

Trust. In talking with teleworkers on the phone, managers should avoid comments like, “Hey, I hear a washing machine. Are you doing your laundry, or working?” Instead, managers should use telework as an opportunity to foster trust between employees and management. Established daily check-ins can be useful, but rigid micro-monitoring of daily activities hinders productivity and creates an environment of distrust.

Office space options. In some organizations, teleworkers are encouraged to share their space while teleworking, and relinquish their in-office space when working in the office. This will require coordination with other employees, and sometimes the development of shared space protocols. Hoteling software, which can help administrators keep track of space booking and scheduling, can also assist in this process.

Manage by results. For managers used to passing offices where employees are working away, telework can be disconcerting. But apparent worker activity should not be confused with the results those activities produce. Establish a clear definition of objectives and performance indicators, and keep track of those indicators.

Monitor performance measures. One measure might be team sick days and absenteeism—have they decreased as your teleworking program progresses? Customer satisfaction might be another measure —has the needle moved in any direction since some team members started teleworking?

Keep evolving. Managers should think of a telework program as a continual work in progress. Teams are unlikely to get all arrangements right the first time. Evolving work groups and projects may also force changes in the original arrangements, regardless of how successful they may have been. Remain flexible, evaluate frequently, and adjust the arrangements as needed.

 

COVID-19

With many organizations requiring employees to stay out of the office, it’s more important than ever to encourage and facilitate regular communication with employees. Here are tips for managers and human resource professionals in supporting employees in staying connected to the workplace and each other:

  • Show empathy and be available: Understand that employees are likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious about circumstances related to the virus. Make yourself available to your staff to talk about fears, to answer questions and to reassure them about work and other issues that might come up.
  • Recognize the impact of isolation and loneliness: Working remotely can cause people to feel isolated, making it more important to routinely check in with your team, not only about their work product, but also to see how they are doing. Loneliness can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Be aware of significant changes you may see in your team member’s personality or work product, because it may be a sign that a person is struggling.
  • Encourage online training: This is a great time to encourage employees to sharpen their skills with online training. It is also a good distraction to focus on learning rather than worrying about other issues. Find online trainings and new learning opportunities to recommend to employees.
  • Check in with your EAP and Health Plan: Check in with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to confirm their availability and to coordinate support for employees. Remind the staff that the EAP is there if they need support and can connect employees with behavioral health support, if needed. Also, connect with the organization’s health plan(s) to learn what they are offering to support plan members and pass that information onto employees. Be sure to include all relevant website links and phone numbers for both the EAP and health plan in communicating with employees.

 

These tips were taken from Society for Human Resource Management & The American Psychiatric Association