The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organizations around the world to transition their workforces from the office to home. This adjustment has been difficult for most and team leaders are struggling to figure out how to monitor their employees and lead from afar.
Why has transitioning to working-from-home been so difficult? For many companies, it’s because they lack an effective plan and don’t have a ready-made work-from-home blueprint filed away in their resources department.
There is hope though. While your company may lack paper-based work-from-home guidance, there are two other resources that you can leverage to help your employees adapt to their new, home-bound situation. One is the current work-from-home expert in your organization, and the other is a list of best practices based on my experience leading a 100% virtual team for 15+ years. Let’s dig in:
This Article Covers
Leverage Your Current Work-From-Home Experts
The best way to get your organization up and running smoothly from home is to look for the work-from-home experts currently working for you. Take a hard look at your leadership team and consider who is the leader with the highest functioning team, even in this new home-based environment?
The earmarks of a good remote leader include:
- They assign their team members clear roles
- They have tracking metrics in place for measuring deliverables and outputs
- They are frequently connecting with their team via regular web meetings and messaging platforms
- They make themselves available to help team members troubleshoot each day’s challenges
- They have a succession plan in place, knowing which employees will cover for one another if one or more of them gets sick and is forced to leave the workforce for a time
Once you identify the work-from-home expert in your organization, ask them to deconstruct the tasks they are doing to maintain a high-functioning virtual team. Turn this into an actionable plan and pass it on to the other team members in your company.
Tried And True Work-From-Home Best Practices
As is true with most leaders, your work-from-home expert likely performs well instinctively and may need some prompts to help them deconstruct their secret sauce. To help get the wheels turning, I hopped on a call with one of the work-from-home authorities here at The Steve Trautman Co., Teresa Candy, and together we created a list of tasks and skills that contribute to the high success of our virtual teams.
Here are the work-from-home best practices that have helped our remote workers flourish:
1. Set your team up for success
- Consider communication preferences, time zones, and learning styles when assigning work and responding to team members’ needs
- Set up, test and troubleshoot a remote workstation and make use of backup devices
- Mitigate the risk of power outages by setting up backup connectivity
2. Eliminate the potential for miscommunication
- Define and communicate immediate workload for and to the whole team
- Clarify roles relative to immediate workload using RASCI (role definition model)
- Prepare for and lead a brief daily “stand-up” call during crunch times to check-in, troubleshoot, and share best practices
- Prepare for and hold regular continuing education meetings for the team to communicate new standards
3. Promote employee morale and team unity
- Schedule and hold brief but regular 1:1 virtual meetings with direct reports and other key partners
- Ask for and respond to weekly 200-word status reports
- Give feedback on work via email
- Give feedback on work via call or video
- Reset and reinforce the team culture virtually
- Celebrate wins as a virtual team
How To Put These Tasks Into Practice
Once your work-from-home expert has created their list of best practices, the next step is to turn this into a plan that can be disseminated to the rest of your organization.
One way to do this is by creating an e-document where each of your expert’s tasks is linked to a short (500-words or so) document that explains how to put that task into action. You can have your expert write these, making sure that the document answers these four questions:
- What are the steps required to complete this task?
- What possible mistakes might people make doing this task and how can these mistakes be avoided?
- What success tips can you share to help others succeed at this task?
- How can other leaders measure their success and know that they are executing this task correctly?
After your work-from-home plan is fleshed out, share it with all the leaders in your organization. You can also share these guidelines with front-line employees so that they understand the tasks that leadership is going to be initiating.
Developing A Successful Work-From-Home Culture Is Worth It
Taking the time to improve your employees’ ability to work from home by leveraging your current experts and creating official best-practice guidelines will pay huge dividends later. As demonstrated by the current health crisis, an organization’s ability to quickly transition employees from office to home may determine which companies survive and which ones fall behind.
Developing work-from-home fluency in your organization improves efficiency, boosts employee morale, and helps disaster-proof your organization. Take it from someone who’s led a work-from-home organization for over 20 years — you can run a highly successful and productive company even from your living room if you create the blueprints and systems to support it.