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12 Work From Home Tips to Make Your Remote Team More Effective

Employees want the freedom of working remotely, but having a geographically dispersed team brings up challenges in communication and collaboration. It can also make you worry about productivity. Equipping your employees with working from home tips, resources and support can raise the performance of the entire team.

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1. Create a remote working policy

Having a clear remote work policy in writing creates a framework for your remote employees. You can use this policy to ensure your team members are following common working from home tips that will improve their performance. For example, you might specify that they need a quiet, dedicated desk area without distractions for their working hours. You can also establish availability and communication requirements. Include this policy in your employee handbook, and make sure all remote employees sign off on it as an acknowledgment of what they need to do.

2. Express remote work expectations

Your work-from-home policy offers some guidance, but you should also drill down to more detailed expectations for your team and specific roles. Every employee should know what you expect and how they can fulfill those expectations. This might include checking in at certain points in the day or submitting status reports regularly. Expectations can change over time and might vary based on workload or projects, so regular updates keep everyone on track.

3. Identify challenges

Letting your employees work from home offers many company benefits, such as reduced operating costs and a boost in morale. But it also comes with more challenges for you and your employees. Identify those potential barriers to work through possible solutions. Some challenges that remote staff members can have include:

  • Distractions in the home environment
  • Lack of technology or a high-speed internet connection
  • Poor communication or inability to access information
  • Lack of collaboration among team members
  • Social isolation
  • Time zone differences
  • Internal motivation
  • Time management

Not all people will experience these challenges the same way. Some people are more productive at home and don’t find it difficult to block out distractions, for example. Providing general solutions for these issues can help your team be productive, but some employees might need support in certain areas.

4. Establish working hours and routines

Working from home is a flexible arrangement, but you still need your staff to put in normal work hours. When your employees work can depend on your company’s needs. You might establish core working hours when the entire team needs to be online, with more flexibility on start and end times. Some companies offer choices in when employees take breaks or how they use their time. Decide what your organization needs and let employees know those expectations.

5. Provide the right tools

Remote employees need the right equipment and tools at home to work efficiently. Issue the computers, devices and software that workers need to do their job. You’ll likely need additional apps and programs to help them collaborate. Some employees might also need mobile hotspots to have reliable connections that keep them productive and easily accessible to the rest of the team.

It’s a good idea to check in regularly with your employees to ensure they have the tools they need. Make sure their equipment works well, and ask if they could benefit from anything else. Investing in new tools can often pay off with increased productivity and employee satisfaction, which can reduce turnover.

6. Implement communication tools

Whether your company is fully remote or only part of the team works from home, strong communication is a central component of collaboration and productivity. You can’t just pop into someone’s office to touch base and ensure they have the information they need.

Having specific communication tools and expectations on how to use them creates consistency across the team. Without these procedures in place, you might have some people communicating via email, others calling and some people avoiding communication completely. Collaboration and communication tools such as Slack and Basecamp create a central location to work together despite the physical distance.

Make sure all employees have access to the selected communication tools and know how to use them. Create a training session on using the program specific to your expectations. Many of these tools have endless features, but your team might focus on specific features. Check in regularly to make sure all team members are using the tools appropriately and consistently.

7. Schedule regular interactions

It can start to feel lonely when you’re working from your home office. Regular interactions as a team can improve collaboration and fend off some of the isolation that can happen. Team meetings let you cover things like project updates, outcomes and expectations. Using video chats for these meetings also lets you see each other, which can boost feelings of connection with colleagues.

Virtual team-building activities can also strengthen team bonds. Activities such as show and tell, virtual games and virtual happy hours can make your staff feel more connected. Let employees take turns planning these activities to make sure they’re enjoyable.

8. Share your working from home tips

Everyone has their own routines when working from home. You might come across great working from home tips that make your day more efficient, but your team might not know about them. Sharing your tips for working at home can give your team helpful advice that makes their workday easier. You might send a working from home guide to your team or incorporate these tips into team meetings and team-building activities. Once a week or once a month, set aside some time for everyone to share favorite tips and advice that helps them stay more productive.

9. Provide learning opportunities

You can help make the remote working experience better when you provide employees with the same opportunities as in-person employees would receive, such as learning opportunities. Focusing the training opportunities on how to work from home more effectively or tools that can improve remote work offers relevant content. You might also offer team members the chance to select individual training opportunities that can support their needs specifically.

10. Emphasize work-life balance and wellness

Work-life balance is always important, but it can be more challenging for your remote employees. They’re surrounded by dirty laundry waiting to be washed, dinner ingredients that need to be cooked and family members who want attention. Some employees might also be tempted to work more than their standard hours because the work is always there — they lack the physical distance of working in a separate location.

Helping your employees improve at work-life balance can help them stay mentally and physically well. They can be more attentive to work when they have that separation. Encourage employees to focus on their wellness and take time for themselves. You might even have daily scheduled group meditation or exercise sessions to get your team members moving. Sharing your favorite tips for work-life balance can also inspire your remote employees to maintain balance.

11. Touch base with each employee regularly

Your team meetings help you connect as a whole, but it can also be important to check in with each employee individually. Some staff members might not speak up in a group setting when they’re struggling or need more support. You also might not have time to get individual updates and status reports from every person during team meetings.

Decide how frequently you want to check in with each team member, and set it as a recurring meeting. This makes it a habit and keeps you from skipping the check-ins. The frequency might vary depending on the employee. New team members might need more frequent one-on-one attention from supervisors to succeed at remote work. Some established employees might also want more contact with managers and could benefit from the check-ins more often.

12. Increase your flexibility

Perhaps one of the most beneficial working at home tips for you and your team is to embrace flexibility. Leading a remote team can be challenging. You can’t physically check in to see how productive your employees are being. Being flexible with your expectations can make the situation less stressful. Accepting that you can’t monitor every move your employees make can help you focus more on their work outcomes, which are ultimately what matters.

Along with that, showing empathy to your employees can create a positive, supportive work environment. Your team members might have spouses or kids who don’t understand how their interruptions affect productivity. Some employees might struggle with focus or loneliness. Showing empathy and finding ways to support your remote employees through those challenges can encourage loyalty and help them become more productive.

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