Working from Home: Staying Connected While Socially Distanced

We have all been impacted in some way by the outbreak of COVID-19 that is sweeping the world. This is obviously a very distressing time for many, and the goal of this article is to simplify this transition for people and provide them with the tips and tools they need to communicate with others while working remotely.

Digital transformation of businesses and organizations has been moving along at a steady pace as new processes, platforms, tools, and integrations are put in place to improve productivity and efficiency. There was a growing sense of urgency that those who failed to implement their own digital transformation plan would struggle to remain competitive. This sense of urgency has turned into a sense of necessity as hundreds of thousands of workers switch to working-from-home arrangements for the first time. The etiquette of home working can be daunting. Do I turn on my video when dialing into a meeting? Which piece of software do I use to communicate for different types of information?

Here are some tips for your new working-from-home, digital nomad lifestyle:

1 Schedule Daily Check-In Meetings With Your Team

A quick meeting either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day is crucial to staying in contact with the rest of your team (this works better with teams who are in similar time zones). This should not take more than 30 minutes, and only the most pressing or relevant issues should be raised.

An example format might be that everyone provides three key pieces of information:

  • Any success in the last 24 hours
  • Plan for the coming 24 hours
  • Anything that may impede those plans (with the idea that the rest of the team may have suggestions on how to overcome these impediments)

TIP: Always turn on your video when speaking with colleagues to increase the social aspect of your conversation.

While working from home, ensure to use video calls as a means of staying in touch with your colleagues

2 Establish Communication Guidelines

Not everyone will follow the same communication process if you haven’t laid out guidelines surrounding what platform to use for different types of communication. The risk of this approach is that people become overwhelmed in this information free-for-all, which can put a serious dent in productivity. To help people filter through this information more efficiently, we can give each platform a specific purpose.

  • Phone or Video call: urgent requests
  • Email: respond within 2 hours, less urgent request
  • IM: a channel for less formal conversations

When remote workers know the best way to communicate each specific message to their teammates, time wasted can be reduced.

TIP: Don’t overwhelm people with messages. It can be tempting to fire off a message to people every few minutes but bear in mind that you may be interrupting their flow of work if you are constantly “pinging” them with information that isn’t urgent.

3 Celebrate Success

This is particularly important for a sales-focused organization but applies equally to other businesses. In an office environment it is easy to recognize and celebrate successes throughout the day, and if handled correctly this can boost morale and productivity among the whole team as people strive to gain recognition and praise for their efforts. In a remote working environment, the whole team needs to make an effort to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of others.

Incorporate 5 minutes at the end of your daily call to recognize those who have exceeded expectations that day, send an email to a colleague to thank them for stellar work, or even just “ping” a quick well done to someone you believe deserves to be appreciated!

TIP: Create a shared document or designate an area where people can share their successes throughout the day and distribute a team overview on a regular basis.

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