Productivity should increase with homeworking, not decrease. If you see a downturn it’s either tech, process or attitude, you can fix all three of these. So don’t accept poorer performance from a homebased team than you’d expect from office workers.
To help you here’s 8 things we’ve learnt in the last 8 years of remote working…
I couldn’t believe number 7!
1 – Get Decent Tech
There is no excuse for not being heard and seen. If bandwidth is an issue consider getting a dedicated connection for conferences (costs less than you think) and even a bonding router that will take advantage of multiple ADSL connections blah blah blah (This bit is boring, you should just Google it)
2 – Use video if at all possible
This was in a book so it must be true, 85% of communication is non-verbal, so being a disembodied voice is only going to get over 15% of what you mean. Turn that camera on!
3 – Don’t mute your mic
Don’t mute your mic unless there’s a technical need for you to do so. Muting your mic (which everyone can see) is the equivalent of getting your phone out in a face to face meeting. Sometimes you have to do it, but it always looks a bit rude and edgy.
4 – Have A Virtual Office
We use Sneek.io and a dedicated Slack channel called ‘The Office’ to give people a tangible sense of being part of a team. People were a bit sceptical at first, but now everyone loves it. It’s nice to know when people are going for lunch and everyone loves it when I ask them to pick something up for me because I am a good boss and very funny.
5 – Clean Your Screen
Always assume you will end up sharing your screen during a call and take appropriate action. For instance, closing any unnecessary browser tabs. You know exactly what I mean, don’t pretend you don’t.
6 – Notifications Off
Turn off notifications and close Slack. I guarantee a colleague will Slack you something appalling when you’re sharing your screen. Perhaps drawing attention to one of those “unnecessary” browser tabs, or just “why are you lying?”.
7 – The Virtual Water Cooler
Contact colleagues for no reason. Just like you do in the office when you’re bored. Go and chat with your friend for a bit. The worst thing about homeworking is that often people only contact you if there’s a problem. This makes communication feel like a negative thing. You should spend at least 10% of your day stopping other people working. They will thank you later.
8 – Give Something Back
Homeworking is not a perk. It sounds like fun at first, but you’re asking people to work with less support, recreation and interaction. We’ve seen a big increase in productivity at VDP since we created ‘YooDoo’ – 4 hours a week that employees can take off to work on their physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health. We’ve seen sickness effectively drop to zero since we implemented this.