February 28, 2022
9 Tips to Help your Employees Telecommute Productively
by Samantha Huff
Two years into the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most DC employees and managers are extremely familiar with working remotely. Although many of us would consider ourselves work from home experts, it’s probable that we’ve all picked up some bad work from home habits or have forgotten the tips we originally incorporated when first adjusting to remote work. In honor of this year’s Telework Week DC, we’re unpacking some oldies but goodies along with some NEW teleworking tips to help your employees continue to telecommute productively.
1. Encourage your team to take regular breaks
In the office, breaks are built in. Whether it’s a coffee break, bathroom break, or chatting with a coworker in the hallway – these breaks allow employees to destress. Without them, employees can get overwhelmed, tired, and burnt out, all things that lower productivity. Encourage your employees to take regular breaks to combat this. For the employees who easily get caught up in work all day, put break reminders on their calendars so they remember to step away from their desk to decompress.
2. Create an “open door” policy
Encourage remote employees to reach out with questions outside of scheduled meeting times. In the office employees can see when their manager is at their desk and pop by to ask a question, but remote employees don’t have that option–and delaying questions until a scheduled meeting could slow down progress.
Let them know your “virtual door” is always open but even go a step farther. Inform them about the best way to contact you, whether it’s by email, instant message, or phone. Also, specify how they can contact you for urgent issues
3. Encourage and support work life balance
It’s important to define the boundaries between work and home to create an ideal work life balance, even more so when you are working from home. Encourage your employees to separate their work and home life by creating a dedicated work environment away from at-home distractions. Home offices are great, but it doesn’t have to be a separate room. It can be a corner of a room that kids, spouses, and housemates rarely use during the day. Additionally, employees should separate their technology – make sure they have a separate work laptop and/or work phone that allows them to focus during work hours and unplug during personal time.
4. Provide your team with reliable tools
The first step to having productive remote employees is to make sure they have all the items they need to work remotely. Have you checked that they have a desk, monitor, and laptop to work productively when remote? Do they have access to take management tools like Asana, Evernote, or Rescue Time? Are they able to contact their team members easily via instant messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams? If your organization has secure files, can they access them through a VPN? These are all considerations to think about and plan for in order to provide your team with tools that keep them just as productive working from home as in the office – maybe even more productive!
5. Offer remote work stipends
You may think you have already provided your employees with everything they need to telework productively, but needs change, workstations need upgrades, and the costs of a home office can increase. To fully support your employees, offer them a quarterly remote work stipend. They can use this to pay for an upgraded internet connection, new office chair, a video conference light, or anything telework related.
6. Don’t micromanage! But check in regularly
Checking in with your team regularly is important to get updates, brainstorm, and address questions and concerns, but it can also contribute to building the team’s relationship. Once a week or every other week check-ins tend to be sufficient, but it’s unique to each team. Base the check-in frequency on the needs of your team and remember that needs change! Once a week may work at the beginning of a project, but as deadlines approach you may need multiple check-in’s per week.
Regular check-ins can also help you avoid micromanaging. With regular updates, you’ll know when things are on track or need more attention, which can help you feel confident in your team without micromanaging.
7. Share calendars
One of the hardest parts of remote working is scheduling virtual meetings. Have you ever been on a meeting invite where the time changed at least twice because certain key players were unavailable? Or an email chain where everyone is asked to provide their availability to meet? Skip all of this by sharing calendars within your team. This will allow a team member to pull up a coworker’s calendar, see when they are available, and then send them an invite for that time – cutting out the back-and-forth emails and rescheduling.
8. Encourage camera use
No one likes giving a presentation to a group of black boxes. Encourage your employees to use their cameras during virtual meetings as much as possible, especially if they are working with outside clients. Turning your camera on during virtual meetings helps set the tone of the meeting, builds trust and rapport, shows confidence, and can help new contacts place a face with a name.
On the other hand, having your image displayed for you to see constantly during a meeting can be distracting and contribute to meeting fatigue, which brings us to our next tip.
9. Teach employees how to hide their own video feed
Both Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow you to hide your own video feed from your screen view while still allowing participants to see you. This can help reduce virtual meeting fatigue while still receiving all the benefits of having your camera on during meetings as outlined in tip 8 above. Just don’t forget your camera is on!
- Hover over your video and click the ellipses button … in your video to display the menu.
- Choose “Hide Self View”. You will no longer see the video of yourself, even though others in the meeting can see the video of you.
- Hover over your video and click the ellipses button …
- Click “Hide for Me”. You will no longer see the video of yourself, even though others in the meeting can see the video of you.