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With most of us WFH (Working from Home), Jo Sutherland, MD of Magenta Associates and IFMA UK Director offers some useful tips on maintaining good communications with colleagues and continuing our self-development

The Coronavirus outbreak has been described as a massive work-from-home experiment, with many organisations instigating remote working policies for the first time. While some people will have experience of working from home, others won’t and may find it challenging. By setting out some clear guidance, early on, the process can be made as pain-free as possible for everyone; and there is no reason why staff can’t keep up to date with training and personal development while working from home.

Here are 10 ways to make home-working work:

  1. Over-communicate: There’s no such thing as too much communication when you’re working as a dispersed team. Schedule 1-2-1 check-ins with the team every day and make sure they’re doing the same with their direct reports to discuss daily tasks and long-term goals. Don’t forget to ask about how they’re feeling during this unusual period.
  2. Manage expectations: If people are fit and well – and working in distraction-free home environments – then it’s reasonable to expect them to work at their normal capacity. For parents who can no longer send their kids to school, however, it’s going to be tough. Likewise, individuals self-isolating because they have mild symptoms may feel that they want to do some work, whereas those with more serious symptoms won’t be able to. And don’t forget about the people who may not have the best internet connection. Reassure those in crowded or under-resourced homes that you appreciate that they won’t be working at their full capacity and spread the workload accordingly.
  3. Invest in some ‘quick fixes’: While many people are accustomed to working on a laptop for short periods, they’ll typically drop into a docking station with a screen, second screen, keyboard and wireless mouse when they’re in an office. Making sure that everyone has access to these types of accessories at home is an important consideration for successful remote working. Many homeworkers also swear by noise-cancelling headphones, especially if the rest of the household is self-isolating.
  4. Swot up on comms platforms: Collaborative tools like Slack, Basecamp, Microsoft Teams and Google Docs are effective ways for people to work together when remote working – so now’s the time to master these. Consider informal communication tools like WhatsApp groups or Messenger, too, as these can temporarily replace the chat across the desk and make people feel connected.
  5. Turn those cameras on: Seeing people helps to reduce a sense of isolation and improves communication. It also allows people to receive visual feedback. Keeping in touch with what’s going on in people’s lives helps to build cohesion and closeness.
  6. Stick to a routine: Anyone who’s ever worked from home understands the power of distraction. Whether it’s laundry, cooking, daytime TV or the latest Coronavirus chatter on social media, it’s easy to become side-tracked when remote working. Support your people to remain productive and focused by suggesting that they adopt similar routines as they would in the office.
  7. Give yourself a break: Organise a virtual coffee break for your team or company. By getting everyone together on camera with a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at a set time once or twice a day, you break the monotony of the 9-5 and boost morale as people share experiences of remote working.
  8. Encourage self-care: Consider producing a self-care guide. This could include top tips on how to avoid back and eye strain as well as exercise ideas that people can do at home, advice on good nutrition, and tips for a good night’s sleep.
  9. Celebrate success: It’s easy for great work to go unnoticed when teams are working remotely. Celebrating successes and rewarding people for their performance in a public way helps to maintain morale while people feel recognised for the work they’re doing.
  10. Keep people updated: Throughout this whole period, keep people up-to-date with the latest news and plans. This is a fast-moving situation and Government advice will change. Be open and keep people informed but acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers – nobody does.

For more ideas, download Magenta’s guide to communicating with remote teams. https://bit.ly/2xwq0xs

The FM industry is pulling out the stops to help ensure we survive this war.

  • The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has launched a Coronavirus Preparedness Resource Centre. https://bit.ly/3dHidgY
  • CoreNet Global is running pop up webinars, Tuesdays 8:30 a.m. EDT https://bit.ly/2JmCXN5 and Thursdays 12:00 p.m. EDT through April. https://bit.ly/2Jqiw1D
  • The Advanced Workplace Institute has launched the ‘Working AWAy Series’ – online workshops that outline the processes and tools required for managing home working teams. https://bit.ly/39sYT3y
  • Leesman, with support from RICS-IFMA, is building the CREFM Covid-19 Response Group to help develop a resilient home-working model that safeguards the industry’s future.
  • Leesman has also developed a research tool that employers in both private and public sectors can use now to fully understand the experience that their newly home-based employees are having. This front-line intelligence will enable organisations to better support employees promptly and provide critical feedback to inform business continuity plans as they develop. https://bit.ly/39vAzhE

Through these combined efforts we will ensure home-working works until the time comes to return to a closer version of normal. Until then, let’s look after ourselves and each other.

About Sarah OBeirne

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