For most business owners, COVID has forced them to send their employees home for an indefinite period of time. Those that can afford to keep the majority of their employees have tasked them with continuing their jobs remotely, from the comfort and safety of their home.
It probably took a while for employees to get used to the idea of working from home, and to remain productive in a completely different environment with different levels of accountability. However, as the lockdown begins to relax in various parts of the world, some people are starting to get back to the office – and some aren’t.
Your business might be one of those that think most of its employees can still work from home without compromising too much. In saying this, though, permanently making this shift from office to home is different from doing it temporarily. Let’s take a look at how to prepare your employees for working from home in the future if this is what the future looks like for your company.
1. Ask Them to Think Outside the Box
One thing that your employees might be tempted to do right now in these risky, unpredictable times is to play it safe and stick to what they know. There will be a general hesitancy among your employees to try something new, as the future looms uncertain.
However, in order to prepare them for a more permanent home office role, teaching them how to be innovative and take risks is vital to being a part of your business. Make sure that you provide your employees with opportunities to take risks, and share their ideas that could be relevant and applicable to the brand.
2. Recognize Good Work
There aren’t too many employees out there that like to be micromanaged, but there’s a difference between acknowledging their accomplishments and watching their every move. With your employees working at home right now and as they prepare to do so for a lot longer, it’s important to take time each week to recognize good work.
This is not only going to motivate them to continue doing their job well, but it’s also a good example for other employees to follow. When they get a good idea of what good work looks like, they can apply it to their own tasks.
3. Consider Employee Monitoring Software
One thing that you’re going to need to make use of is technology. Technology is going to become your friend as you navigate this difficult landscape of monitoring your employees and their levels of productivity from a distance.
Naturally, you won’t be used to doing this outside of the office, and you most likely have reservations about how well they will be able to work from home. However, if you have employee computer monitoring software, you can keep track of how they’re spending their time during work hours, without them feeling like you’re breathing down their neck.
4. Adjust for Home Life
One thing that you’ll need to take into consideration when preparing your employees for working from home is that this will inevitably end up clashing with their home life from time to time. This means that you’ll need to reconfigure the schedule a little bit and allow for work and family commitments to intertwine.
As long as your employees are able to complete their tasks in a competent manner, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be trusted to do so within a specific timeframe while juggling everything else.
5. Stay Focused on Goals, Not Roles
One thing that is going to become a bit confusing as more of your employees work from home is role definitions. There is going to be a lot of initial disruption as everyone in the office slowly adjusts to working remotely, and there will most likely be a lot of confusion too around who is supposed to do what.
This is why it’s important to focus on what you need your employees to accomplish, not what roles they will maintain. The more your employees can see that what they are doing on a day to day basis is benefiting the company as a whole, the more satisfied and focus they will become – even at home.
6. Give Your Employees Appropriate Training
Before you embark on working from home completely as a team of employees, you must equip them with the right tools, so that the transition is as smooth as possible. One way to do this is to give them the appropriate training.
This training, however, might not be what you think. Things like holding fellow employees accountable, staying organized, and sticking to a schedule are all skills that every employee needs, whatever their role is. The more you can train them in these types of skills, the easier it’s going to be for everyone. What’s most important is that they feel like they have been given everything they need to do their job in a home environment.
7. Show That You Trust Them
Perhaps one of the best ways you can get your employees ready to work at home in the future is to show them that you trust them. While there’s nothing wrong with maintaining your managerial role from a distance, they also need to know that you have enough faith in them to get the job done even when you’re not there.
While you may have your concerns about how everything is going to pan out, it’s much better to begin at a place of trust, and deal with any issues that crop up as a result. Your employees will feel a lot more confident in their ability to do the job and will strive to uphold that faith you have in them.
8. Encourage Communication
Communication is key to any healthy relationship – whether its romantical, platonic, or between employer and employee. It might feel like nothing more than common sense, but one of the things that are going to make this entire process run smoothly is having great communication.
Promote good communication not only between your employees and you but between them as well. This is especially important if some of your employees work together. Try to be as accountable as possible, and check-in with each employee every day to make sure that they are faring well. As soon as communication breakdowns occur, employees begin to lose morale and become less productive.
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9. Know the Signs of Dissatisfaction
Before you send your employees off to work from home, it’s vital to look for signs of dissatisfaction at the entire transition. While communication is key as we’ve established, it’s also good to look for non-verbal signs that can present themselves through body language.
This way, you can catch issues early before they become something that can compromise productivity.
Setting your employees up for success as they prepare to work from home indefinitely is no small task. As you can see, there are a lot of things to cross off your to-do list, but one thing’s for certain – the more you put into them now, the better off you’ll all be. Just remember, everyone is new to working from home, so there’s nothing wrong with learning as you go, either.