The work from home landscape
Back in the day, long before pandemics and global crises were on our radars, working from home was usually an irregular occurrence. Something to be preserved purely for only when it was absolutely necessary; it was the unicorn of the working week!
Fast forward to today, and it’s now the norm and has been in place long enough to change the mindsets of many companies on a fundamental level. Managers and business owners have seen happier teams, thanks to an improved work-life balance and no commuting, as well as increased productivity due to fewer distractions.
So, have there been any negatives? There has certainly been the perception that team-working is more challenging when working remotely, especially for those in creative roles. And whilst this can be true, it doesn’t have to be if you know what you’re doing!
So, take a look at the tips we at avidmode.com have been using to ensure your team can work just as effectively remotely as it can in close proximity:
- Get technical
Email is great, phone calls are even better, but there are few things that rival video conferencing for its ability to bring teams together. If everyone has a strong enough broadband connection and the right system (such as Zoom, MS Teams, etc.), you can interact in ways that replicate sitting around a table. For short conversations, use the other technology at hand, such as an instant messenger or a project management tool like Basecamp – the Avidmode team love a good Basecamp ‘Ping’! This makes questions or chats much quicker without the need for a more formal email or phone call.
- Respect the process
Just as you would need to with face-to-face meetings, you need to allow others the opportunity to speak. It can get confusing over video calls when everyone talks at once, but that would be the case in a meeting room too. Take note of people if they start to talk, send a message if you have a question or if you feel you are being overlooked. Don’t be afraid to speak up to make your point heard. Everyone should have a say in a meeting!
- The personal touch
When you’re working side-by-side with people, you get to know them personally, which helps build rapport and strengthens your working relationship. Don’t forget about this just because you’re holed up in your home office. Having a few minutes of ‘normal’ chat, even if it’s just the odd moan about something that’s bugging you, can really help you to feel connected with your team, and a little bit less isolated.
- The power of ‘no’
There can be the feeling when you’re working from home that you must always be available, say yes to requests on your time and be online as long as possible. However, if you think about your days in the office, it wouldn’t be the case there, so you need to have the confidence to say ‘no’ from time to time. If you’re working on a project that you need to focus on, you don’t have to answer the call at that moment. You don’t have to respond to emails or IMs instantly, and you don’t always have to go to an online meeting just because your calendar looks clear. Explaining your position and your work output will prove your productivity, but it’s hard to remember this when you feel under pressure. You also need to ensure you take regular breaks too, so build those into your working day.
Working from home can sometimes feel isolating, and it can become harder to raise issues if they persist over time. Ideally, as soon as you face a challenge or a difficult situation, it is better to raise it with the necessary people via video chat or phone call. It can be difficult to make your point clear over email, and these things are always better-tackled head-on, especially as problems can breed when you’re separated from others physically.
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean any teamwork will suffer, not if your team is engaged with the technology and remains focussed on doing a good job. There are so many tools available to facilitate collaborative working, so use those to your advantage and your company’s output need never suffer. It could even improve!
Let us know how you’ve found working from home, has it become the norm for you, are you dreading going back to the commute or are you holding on waiting to go back to the office and see everyone?