Coronavirus Planning - Five Top Tips for Home Working

With the ongoing spread of Coronavirus rapidly starting to impact the UK, self-isolation and home working is going to increase.

We share our Top Five Tips to ensure your line managers have the tools to support home workers and your employees are productive when they work from home.

When the spread of the virus reduces and your team can be back in the office, you can take these practices into regular team meetings and continue to benefit from this focus.

10 March 2020

1: Trust

Trust is the number one issue we come across when working on flexible working projects mainly as employees do not feel trusted to be productive when working from home. If they don't feel trusted and you micromanage them during any extended time of home working due to coronavirus, they will be less productive.

If you carry out steps 2-5 here, empower your employees to manage their workload, trusting them to be productive, you will ensure productivity, business continuity and employee engagement.

Studies show home workers are more productive and are off sick less, a survey by Canada Life showed that homeworkers believe their time is more productive than if they worked in an office environment. Employees working in an office took on average 3.1 days of sick leave last year whilst homeworkers only took 1.8 sick days (42% less by comparison).

2: Tech and Support

Ensure your employees have the required hardware and you have the systems in place to support them, Laptops, VPN licences, File/folder sharing, Online Call/Video conferencing call all be put in place now to ensure you are ready.

Some examples of tech that you can use:

3: Daily Calls to Focus on Productivity

While working from can feel liberating at times, there’s also the risk of feeling isolated, especially if there is an extended period, which could happen if there is a lockdown due to Coronavirus. We recommend a team call each morning using a video conference tool that allows for screen sharing of needed (Zoom, Google Hangouts, MS Teams, etc).

Your daily team calls should be short and focused, ideally 15 mins. Tech teams using SCRUM/Agile methodology are experts at this and studies show they get results, by focusing on:

-What did you achieve yesterday?
-What are you going to focus on today?
-What will stop you achieving what you need to today?
-What help/support do you need?

This is not a tool to micromanage. Used well, it's a great focused way of everyone taking accountability for their productivity. It allows managers to see progress daily, and prioritise additional support needed.

Two key rules are important:

  1. Someone runs the call (Scrum Master)
  2. There are no interruptions!

When a team member is giving their update everyone listens! They make take up to 30 mins to begin with but once you get in the rhythm of these daily calls, they should be max 15 mins, but could be much shorter.

4: Check-In regularly 

Whilst focusing on 'the work' is clearly important in order to have business continuity, it's important to regularly check in individually with your direct reports. Schedule a regular call in your diaries, at least every couple of days to catch up and provide support as well as personal contact. This shouldn't be work-focused, it needs to be a personal check in to ensure they are ok. Having check ins with a line manager can help home-working employees focus during work hours and have something to look forward to during the day.

5: Encourage Team Support

With all the best intentions, line managers only have so much time and can't give all their time to their teams, encourage teams to pick up the phone to each other rather than email, use messaging via Skype, Teams, Google, WhatsApp, etc, to keep in touch.

Peer support can be so helpful, you could also set up buddying between team members, especially for more vulnerable employees who may need more support (perhaps who live alone and are could be more isolated during this period). Encourage teams to sort this out themselves and check in that it's happening on your regular catch ups.

We are here to help and are offering 10 free hours of consulting support to local businesses*, in March and April with no obligation. If you want help from our flexible working experts, to support with your coronavirus planning get in touch - kristal@flexology.co.uk

https://www.flexology.co.uk/consulting

*10 x One hour session for local businesses available