Working from home can feel unusual when it is a change from the norm – the usual working day might feel as though it has been disrupted, and this can affect an employee's ability to work to their usual standard.

With that in mind, here are six steps to ensure employees can work remotely with the minimum disruption to their working day.

They are in summary,

  • Adapt
  • Set the Scene
  • Stay Positive
  • Have a Routine
  • Be Considerate
  • Take Breaks

 

  1. Adapt

Firstly, your employees must accept that for the time being, working from home is the new 'normal'. Accepting the situation will enable them to avoid falling into denial, which can be stressful. It will also encourage the group to get on with work, sticking as closely as possible to their usual daily patterns.

  1. Set the Scene

If you are asking employees to work from home who would usually attend a workplace, you must provide everything they need to enable them to do so – they should not be expected to sort things out.

So, ensure your team has all the equipment they need to work from home successfully. That includes everything from computers and screens, a webcam for webchats, stationery, reference books – even their desk. Setting up office space and recreating their desk at home will make them feel more 'at work.

   3.  Stay Positive   

 

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You must keep morale up in your team. So, check-in regularly – it's advisable to have a virtual team meeting with your employees at least once, if not twice, a day. Ideally, if you can, use a video chat link such as Zoom or Skype to allow a face to face contact as this will help build the team’s sense of belonging. It's also easier to avoid anything being misconstrued as can happen through written communications.

Many employers are choosing to have a morning meeting to discuss the day's activities, and then a close of day catch up to see how things have gone for everyone. Not only do sessions like these enable you to keep track of individuals progress and workload, but they also help keep spirits high, instill a sense of being all in this together. They will allow you to check up on the mental health of individuals.

  1. Have a Routine

Your employees should be encouraged to treat their home working day as they would an office day. There is a mental association between work and being present in the office that makes individuals productive, so recommend that they establish a routine from day one.

That means setting the alarm for the usual time, showering, dressing appropriately (smart-casual as if going to the workplace) and having breakfast. Scheduling a daily morning meeting first thing serves to ensure everyone is present and correct at their desks at the usual hour. This also helps create a sense of normality in difficult and challenging times.

As well as daily check-ins, encourage your employees to set up a regular schedule for their work tasks. Plans could include times for breaks, periods of uninterrupted work, lunch (away from their desk), exercise and a walk outside for health benefits.

Additionally, if they would usually perform certain tasks on specific days, keep that as part of the schedule. In essence, this helps differentiate the days, which can sometimes begin to merge into one when you are working alone from home.

  1. Be Considerate

Remember that we are all human, and these are exceptional times.

Many of your employees will be at home with other family members in a confined area. You and team colleagues need to acknowledge that some individuals may have to spend some time homeschooling children or attending to partners or an elderly live-in relative's needs.

Encourage open communication and display empathy to avoid additional stress in an already stressful situation.

  1. Take Breaks

Finally, encourage your employees to stay healthy while working from home. For example, they should take regular breaks to give their eyes rest from screen work.

It's common for individuals to spend more time at their desk when remote working, so it's even more crucial that they get away for five minutes. Also, making sure they finish at the same time they would in the workplace is essential to maintain home-work boundaries and ensure they get plenty of downtime to spend with family.

In addition to this, eating well and getting a good night’s sleep is vital to ensure your team can work productively and maintain mental and physical health. Fresh air and sleep also help build the immune system, so are an essential part of staying healthy.

Following these guidelines should enable your employees – and yourself – to stay positive while working from home. But if you suspect any of your team are beginning to show signs of stress, its crucial to address it early on to avoid it becoming a more serious problem.

Team camaraderie is more important than ever, and your support as an [sector] employer is critical.  The NHS website has some useful information on maintaining mental wellbeing while working from home, which you can access here.

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About the Author: Mark Woffenden

Mark Woffenden is a Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment and has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over the last 20 years in the Industry