In the wake of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, many of us have gone from daily commuters to instant remote workers. Even for those who telecommuted one or more days a week prior to the “stay-at-home” directives issued by most states, the change from no one at home to EVERYONE at home has been jarring. With so much change happening all once, here are some tips to help you manage to work more effectively and (hopefully) stay sane during this unique time in our history.
Re-Imagine Your Management Expectations
Under “normal” circumstances, you would expect your employees to conduct virtual meetings in a quiet, “kid-free” space with minimal distractions. Unfortunately, meeting that expectation right now is extremely difficult for a lot of people. For those who live in small apartments or houses and have roommates, family, pets etc. living with them, there is simply no place to go. That means that your expectations of your staff need to be adjusted. Some of the following methods are designed to help keep work progressing while distractions keep mounting:
- Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, there were in-person meetings and travel being scheduled, seminars and awards events to be held, etc. Step back and look at your organization or department as a whole and re-prioritize deadlines and deliverables.
- Re-Prioritize Expectations
- Because of the widespread scope of the pandemic, your meetings, speakers, supply chain and other resources may be interrupted or limited. List all the components that factor into fulfilling your organization’s mission and assess the realistic methods of their fulfillment. Then prioritize them accordingly.
- Likewise, look at your staff members and be flexible in your prioritization of their assignments or deliverables. Now is the time to be sympathetic to others. Understand that an employee who is a single parent with three young children at home will not have the same amount of time and energy to devote to a project as a single person living alone. Realistically re-assess individuals’ bandwidth to maximize the amount of work they can deliver to you successfully.
- Be flexible on the specific hours you expect your employees to work. In a typical office, working 9am-5pm, is the norm, but resources can be limited with everyone at home.
- Allow your team to work outside the “9-to-5” construct.
- Set a specific date and time for them to be expected to complete their assigned tasks.
- Choose core hours, such as 11am-2pm, for staff to be expected to be online and/or accepting calls to ensure that people are available when you need them.
Re-Imagine Your Personal Expectations
In the past (aka 3-4 weeks ago), when working remotely, the goal was to find a designated space away from distractions to help you focus on work. Today, with everyone in your household vying for shared resources, finding time to get everything done has become very stressful. The following tips can help you be less stressed and work more efficiently:
- Set a Schedule
- Whether you have to get on a video chat or help your first grader with math, creating a schedule for your day will go a long way in helping you stay on top of your responsibilities.
- Set up your designated hours for when you plan to work, including the core hours expected by your manager to be in communication.
- If device sharing, set up specific times you will need the device and the times others are allowed to use it.
a Quiet Place for Video Chats and Calls
- While it might feel impossible to accomplish this, there is typically ONE room in everyone’s home, big or small, with a door…the bathroom. If that is the only quiet place you have, go there. (You may want to use a virtual background for video chats though. :-))
- Communicate with Management
- If you have personal responsibilities like child or eldercare that are overwhelming you during this time, talk to your manager about ways you can realistically balance all of your new heightened responsibilities.
- Remind them that this is only temporary and work out a schedule or set of expectations that are realistic and can help set you both up for success.
- Don’t Judge!
- During this unprecedented time, it is important to keep ourselves in check and not fall into the temptation of judging others. If you see dirty dishes in the background of a video chat, if a dog starts barking during a conference call, or if a child tugs incessantly at his mother’s arm during a Zoom meeting, let it go.
- No one really knows what our workmates and employees are dealing with cooped up at home, so take a page from Princess Elsa of “Frozen” and, “Let it GO! Let it GO!”
Currently, no one knows exactly how long we will need to work under these unusual circumstances. While the uncertainty of the situation is very stressful, there have been reports of silver linings to this cloud. Many people who are not accustomed to working remotely are reporting they are MORE productive than they typically are working at the office. People around the country are seeing considerable savings in commuting costs, and many are embracing the feeling of autonomy working a flexible schedule can bring. We hope you can find your own silver lining and work successfully remotely today and in the future.
If you are interested in getting help to transition your organization into a remote workplace or to receive assistance choosing and/or implementing new technology, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.