Ultimate Guide to Working from Home
The idea of working from home is something that has been around for quite some time. Before the Internet was introduced, working from home meant answering customer service calls or filling out paperwork. While this is still a viable option, modern technology and communication tools have suggested many more opportunities for people working from home. Up to 56% of jobs can be done at home, according to a study.
There are many different types of jobs that can be done remotely, including customer service, writing, programming, sales, and accounting. According to one study, office desks are vacant up to 60% of the time. The recent Covid-19 Pandemic has made the need for remote workers even more significant, as people have been laid off and companies have had to restructure to keep costs down.
Today, WFH (work from home) is defined as the “new normal,” and it is growing in popularity as a choice for professionals, millennials, and retirees. Many people have left their office jobs to work from home, and many people choose to work from home on a part-time basis while they continue working in an office. Freelancers are expected to be the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027, according to Upwork, a platform for freelancers to find projects.
What is WFH and Remote Working?
So what does WFH mean? According to the International Labour Organization, working from home is defined as “working at home for pay or any work done outside of an office while not physically present at the company’s main office.” Many people use this definition when talking about working from home.
However, some people also include freelancers and contractors in this definition. For example, if a person works remotely for a company but is considered an independent contractor rather than an employee, they may be included in the WFH category.
Remote working is something that has become more popular over the last few years. In the past, companies had strict rules about how their employees were supposed to work and where they were supposed to be at all times. While these rules still exist in some cases, many companies have loosened their restrictions on remote workers.
For example, it used to be that all of a company’s employees had to be in one building for 8 hours a day and five days a week (or more). Nowadays, many companies have begun allowing their employees to work from home as long as they get their work done on time and within specific parameters. They may even allow them to work from home part-time.
Freelancers are people who work for themselves and set their hours. They often get hired by companies to complete specific projects, but they don’t work for that company regularly. Freelancers may be paid hourly, or they may get paid per project. For example, a graphic designer may be hired to create the artwork for a new website or product packaging. Once the project is completed, the freelancer will no longer be needed, and they will move on to their next project.
Contractors are similar to freelancers in that they also set their hours and work independently from home. However, contractors often have an ongoing relationship with one company rather than moving from job to job, as freelancers do. They may also get paid more than freelance workers because they have been hired as full-time employees rather than independent contractors (although this is not always the case). Some examples of contractors include accountants, software developers, and engineers who work remotely for one company at a time while doing their jobs full-time.
Telecommuters work out of their homes but still have some sort of working relationship with their company. They may be given a set schedule and required to work certain hours, or they may be able to work whenever they want as long as they get their work done. Telecommuters usually have an office set up in their home that allows them to feel like they are working in an office rather than at home. Some examples of telecommuters include administrative assistants, call center workers, and customer service representatives who work from home full-time or part-time.
History of Remote Working
The concept of remote working is not a new one. There are records of people working from home in the United States as far back as the late 1800s. In 1876, a group of people started the first company that was run entirely by remote workers.
At that time, it was illegal for women to work outside of their homes, so all of these women worked from home doing needlework and other domestic tasks. They were paid by the piece and not by the hour or day, so they could do their work at their own pace without worrying about being watched or supervised.
Over time, more and more companies began to hire remote workers because it saved them money on office space and allowed them to hire highly skilled professionals who might not have been able to get an office job due to age or location restrictions.
Today, many different jobs can be done remotely, including customer service jobs, writing assignments, programming jobs, and sales jobs. For example, a person looking for a job in customer service may be hired for a position with Amazon to answer calls from customers while working from home rather than being hired for an office job where they would need to go into the office every day.
Given that every household has a computer and an Internet connection, more and more companies are hiring remote workers. Even some of the world’s largest companies, such as Google, Yahoo, and Apple, have remote employees.
Furthermore, many of the available jobs to remote workers are not ones that people typically think of remotely. Some of the most common jobs for remote workers include writing, customer service, web design, and programming.
People who want to work from home typically choose a job based on their interests and skills, rather than on what they think they can get paid to do.
Myths about WFH
There are several myths about working from home that people believe is true. These myths are based on outdated information or misunderstandings about WFH. The truth is most of the things people say about WFH are simply false.
Myth 1: Working from home will make me lonely and isolated
Many people believe that working from home means being alone for eight hours a day and not having anyone to talk to. In reality, many WFH employees say they have more time to socialize with friends and family than they did as an employee in an office.
Working from home allows employees to spend more time with their families and friends, and it also gives them a chance to meet new people. The key is the time saved on commuting etc allows for more time to socialize and engage in other activities.
Myth 2: Working from home is expensive
While some people may believe that working from home is more expensive than an office job, this isn’t true for all workers. For example, if you work for yourself, you will have to purchase your equipment and pay for your insurance and supplies.
However, many WFH employees can set up their offices in the same room where they sleep or in an unused bedroom. This means they don’t have to pay additional rent/costs for an additional formal office.
For example, a graphic designer may set up their office in their living room instead of paying for office space elsewhere. They can use the same computer for work and personal tasks without paying any extra because it’s already located at home instead of at the office. The same is true for other workers; many telecommuters can set up their offices in spare rooms or the garage instead of paying for separate office space elsewhere.
Myth 3: Working from home means work stays with you
There is a general perception that when working from home you’re more or less always ‘at work’ and available. This can be the case for those that do not create clear boundaries between work and personal lives; they may start work early, go run a few household errands, return home to restart work and this cycle of work/personal lives interchanging is not ideal in the long term. This is therefore overcome by setting clear schedules and finishing work when work time is finished (as we will discuss in later sections).
Myth 4: Working from home means you don’t get to socialize with coworkers
Some people believe that WFH workers never get to talk to their coworkers which isn’t necessarily true. For example, if a worker has a full-time job but works from home one day a week, they may still be able to talk to coworkers on the days they go into the office.
Other employers allow workers who work from home to go into the office for meetings or training sessions to feel like part of the team and get to know other employees. Also, many WFH workers can communicate with their colleagues through email or instant messaging programs without having any trouble communicating.
Furthermore, more recently employers are placing more emphasis on work social gatherings to increase opportunities for those WFH to engage in social activities with colleagues.
Benefits of WFH for Employees
There are some significant benefits to working from home that make it a popular option for many people. Some of these benefits include:
1. Lower Commuting Expenses
Commuting can take a lot out of a person. It is often stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. If a person can work from home, they won’t have to deal with this.
Another major benefit of working from home is saving precious time. Many people spend 40 minutes to an hour just getting to and from work every day. If they can do their job without going into an office every day physically, they can save this time.
2. More Flexibility
Working from home allows a person the flexibility to set their schedule and stick to it. They can decide when they want to start work and when they want to finish work on any given day. This makes it easier for them to get their job done while still having time for other obligations throughout the week.
For example, if they have errands, they need to run every week, they can do them on a day that works best. If they have children, they can arrange their work schedule around naptime and bedtime. They can also choose the week’s days to start work earlier or finish work later to fit better with their family life.
3. Quieter Work Environment
In general, if a person works in an office, there will often be many distractions around them. This may include loud co-workers, phones ringing, music playing, and people walking around in the hallway outside their door. People who work from home won’t have to deal with these distractions because they will do their work in a more quieter work environment.
4. Less Pressure
In general, working from home is often a lot less stressful than working in an office. This is undoubtedly true for introverted people who may feel uncomfortable working in an office setting. There will be less office politics, people looking at you in the office and other things associated with needing to be in a physical office. Working from home allows people to simply get their work done without having to worry about what other people think of them.
5. More Family Time
Those people who WFH spend more time with family which is a benefit of removing commuting time from the daily schedule.
For example, they can arrange their work schedule to go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early in the morning. This will allow them more time in the morning and evening to have breakfast with the kids or take them to school.
6. Better Work-Life Balance
Saving the best till last…working from home allows a person to better work-life balance than if they worked in an office setting. People who work from home can set their schedule to fit better into their lives instead of having someone else decide when it works best for them. This means that they will have more flexibility in choosing when they start, and finish work each day to fit their lives better.
You will find those that WFH highly value this better work-life balance and the vast majority simply want to retain this as part of the post-Covid working world.
Benefits of WFH for Employers
In addition to the benefits of working from home for employees, there are some significant benefits to WFH for employers. Often, these benefits are overlooked by the company as they focus on the needs of their employees. However, WFH can benefit companies in the long run too:
1. Reduced Turnover
While it may seem like employees who work from home are more likely to quit their jobs because they have the opportunity to be at home all day, the opposite is true. Studies show that employees who work from home are less likely to leave their jobs than those who don’t. A FlexJobs survey found 81% say they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.
This is because employees get to enjoy the flexibility of working from home without facing the adverse side effects of it. For example, when employers work at home, they are most often closer to the things they love and care about, such as their family or pets. Therefore, they are much more likely to feel passionate about their jobs because they aren’t just sitting in a cubicle all day.
2. Reduced Office Costs
In addition to having employees who are more likely to stay with the company, employers also save money because they don’t have to pay for their travel-related expenses. For example, suppose you own a small business with multiple offices spread across the country or various states. In that case, it can get costly to have employees traveling back and forth between each office.
When employers allow their employees to work from home, it eliminates this travel cost because they can work from anywhere in the world. Therefore, this means that they are saving money on airline tickets, gas, and hotel stay. Even if some businesses do not reduce the office space and save on office rental expenses, employers will save on the maintenance costs such as cleaning and security staff etc.
3. Higher Productivity
This is a big one. Ultimately, business owners need to prioritize the bottom line and if WFH increases productivity it is a real plus and why so many companies are transitioning to the ‘new normal’ of full/partial remote working. According to FlexJobs’ survey, 51% report being more productive when working remotely. Main reasons for increased productivity include: fewer distractions, more focused time and quieter work environment. Read our post on 5 Tips For Regaining Control and Getting Things Done.
4. WFH is Better for Mental Health
A survey with Mental Health America, found that respondents with flexible work options (including remote work) report better mental health. In fact, employees without access to flexible work are nearly two times more likely to have poor or very poor mental health. This is supported by a lot of what we’ve previously said in this guide – better work-life balance, more time to spend on exercise/socializing lead to better wellbeing and mental health. This is a real plus for employers as mental health at work has increasingly become a hot topic.
5. Remote Work is Environmentally Friendly
One very notable consequence of the pandemic was the human behavioral changes that have led to slowed deforestation rates, reduced air pollution, and improved water quality all over the world. This positive environmental impact is due, in part, to the millions of people who transitioned to working from home, thereby reducing traffic congestion and air pollution from commuting.
With employers becoming increasingly environmental conscious this a good benefit of employees working from home (in some capacity).
The Downsides of WFH
We have covered both the benefits for employees and the benefits for employers, but what about the drawbacks?
While employers can save on office space and overhead costs, employees are dealing with higher stress levels, less sleep, and an increased risk of burnout.
It makes sense that these issues would arise, as employees have to wear multiple hats when working from home. This is especially true if they work for themselves. They have to worry about their productivity and output, but they also have to worry about their entire team’s productivity and production. The result is more work than they would be doing in the office setting—plus the worry over whether or not everyone else is up to the task as well.
Employees also report that working from home tends to be very lonely at times. This may be because other people in a similar situation do not surround them—or because their family members are nearby. Whatever the case may be, this isolation can lead to anxiety and a feeling of being disconnected from others in a way that simply does not exist in an office setting.
Let’s take a look at some of the downsides, which are sometimes an unintended consequence of working from home and predominantly apply to those that don’t follow ‘WFH best practices’:
1. Lower Productivity
Although working from home can lead to increased productivity levels, paradoxical it can also lead to lower productivity. The reason for this is simple: if employees work from home, they are more likely to procrastinate and more likely to waste time which are more common for employees with active members of the family at home while they are working.
2. Less Motivation
Many people working from home feel like they are working on their terms—and this is true. However, this also means that many people working from home are not as motivated to work as people in an office setting as some employees may live alone at home. The result is a lack of productivity and a lack of dedication to the job.
3. More Stress
Working from home can often lead to higher stress levels because employees are dealing with many more situations than otherwise. Since they are at home, there may be children running around and disrupting their work, there may be spouses or significant others who want to spend time with them, and there may be family members who want to watch television or hang out.
The best way that employees can deal with this is to set up boundaries for themselves. They need to set up times when they are working and times when they are not. When they are working, they should be in a “work mode”—and nothing else should distract them from their work. We discuss this more in the next section ‘Blueprint for WFH Success’.
4. More Burnout Risk for Employees with Families
If employees are working from home while raising children at home, there is a much higher risk of burnout. This is especially true if employees are working for themselves and have no boss to report to. The pressure to get things done promptly can be very high—and when employees have no boss, they may feel like they are the only person capable of getting things done.
Since there is no one else to blame when things go wrong, this can lead to a higher level of stress and a higher risk for burnout in the long run. Many people working from home will quit after weeks or months because they feel like they cannot handle the workload and the stress levels associated with it.
5. Less Opportunities for Networking
There was a principle that was highlighted amongst those studying the pros and cons of remote working: remote working us more suited to those that are in the middle or tail end of their careers. They have already established themselves, have families and all the benefits of WFH apply to them. However, for those at the start of their careers they yearn physical interaction and opportunities for networking and increasing their network. WFH generally means less opportunities to run into people across the company and form meaningly professional relationships.
6. Poor Quality of Work Life
Finally, if employees are working from home, then there is a higher risk that they will have a poor quality of work life, specifically for those living alone. This can be due to loneliness and isolation—or it can be due to highly stressful situations. The result is that employees are not as productive or as dedicated as they would be in other cases—and this leads to less output and lower productivity overall.
Blueprint for WFH Success
Now that we have identified some of the problems and challenges let’s talk about solutions to achieve work-from-home success.
Each individual working from home will have different characteristics. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others feel most productive at night. Some people need silence to concentrate, while others enjoy working with background noise.
What is important is that you identify your needs and preferences and then create an environment that enables you to work successfully from home by taking several simple steps.
1. Know the Ground Rules (what your employer requires/expects)
Firstly, it is essential to know what your employer expects of you working from home. When you know the ground rules, you are more likely to be successful. Some employers may or may not have a problem with employees working from home. However, some employers may not approve of WFH and are only doing it out of necessity, so you’ll maybe need to tread more carefully.
Some employers may have policies that must be followed, such as a particular dress code or time spent at the company business office (this is most common at senior levels). You must follow these rules so that management can trust you with the work from home privilege. If your employer has a written policy for telecommuters, I suggest that you read it carefully and follow it to the letter.
Others may not have a policy, but they may have a preference or requirements that will make your work environment more successful and productive. For example, if your employer prefers to work in the office, they may wzant you to be there at least one day per week.
If your employer does not have any policies or preferences, it is up to you to make sure that you don’t get carried away and spend all of your time working from home. Post Covid a lot of companies are going with Hybrid models and so the important thing is to be conscious and aware of your employer’s stance.
2. Design Your Workspace (Better Gear)
You no longer have an allocated space like you do in an office, where you sit in the same seat and work at the same desk every day just like everyone else. Working from home means you have to get creative with your workspace.
Wherever you choose to set up your office, make sure it fits your personality and brand. If you’re a photographer, maybe you have a home studio. If you’re a writer, maybe your office is in the corner of your dining room. The point is, make sure you love where you work and it fits with your professional brand.
Designing your workspace is more than just picking the right desk or chair. You’ll need to create a space that reflects your professional brand, and that inspires you to work hard and be productive.
But a good place to start is by picking the right gear. You might start with your desk, a comfortable chair, and a great computer/monitor setup. Our editorial team have gone to great lengths to create a set of buyer guides for the key components of a home office.
Try to find a space where you can separate yourself from the rest of the house. Working from home can mean you’re never truly ‘off duty’ so having a dedicated space which you leave when work is finished can alleviate this issue.
3. Create Work Boundaries
Many people who work from home get so caught up in the work that they don’t take time off to do things with friends and family. It’s easy for a home worker to get sucked into doing work because the office is so close by. That’s why it’s important to create boundaries for yourself.
Having boundaries will help you set the expectation that you are working and that you need to be left alone. If you’re in a shared office, set your boundaries by telling everyone else that you need to focus for a few hours and will be available later if they have questions or need help.
A great way to create boundaries is to create a schedule for yourself (so important we’ve discussed below). You can schedule your work and the time you have to do work. This way, you can set aside specific time for work and specific time to do things with friends or family.
Also, boundaries will help you to prevent burn out. When you’re working from home, you’re susceptible to burn out since you’re not around other people who can help you to get away from it all.
4. Set and Follow a Schedule
Unlike in an office environment where there are environmental cues and peer pressure that keep you on the clock, you are in charge of your own time and environment when working from home. Therefore, you should be disciplined in setting a schedule that works for you to get the job done. You should also stick to it!
At home, you have fewer of the environmental cues that keep you on track. Often, people feel like they can work when they “feel” like it. Done this way, you end up working in spurts and not getting much done. Instead, set a schedule to follow and stick to it until the job is done or you are satisfied with your progress.
Setting a schedule for everyone is different. Some people are more disciplined than others. It is important to realize that working from home is the perfect environment to get the job done quickly. You don’t have employer time limits or vacations to worry about.
You will have to get started by setting deadlines for yourself. Make sure that you get your work done by the time that you set for yourself. Keep in mind that your schedule should be realistic. Don’t set it up to be a challenge that you will fail.
Sometimes it is hard to keep on schedule, especially when you are working on a big project or working with people who are uncooperative. In this instance, you have the option of breaking your schedule down into sections and working on one section at a time. This way, you will get something done every day and still stick to your plan.
When you are working from home, it is easy to put off the work that needs to be done and play around with other things instead. For this reason, it is important that you allow yourself breaks, but stick around the office or your home office as much as possible. Remember that when you leave your work unattended, not only does it become more difficult for you to get back to it but also the quality of your work suffers greatly!
5. Motivate Yourself (Better Mindset)
Sometimes working from home can be isolating and somewhat boring. Because you are not surrounded by your co-workers, it can be easy to feel like you are in a rut. However, it is important to get out of that rut and work on motivating yourself. Below are some tips:
- Dress the part. Even if you are working from home, you need to be professional. Wear a nice pair of jeans or fun slacks, and a nice top. You can mix it up with some nice shoes, or fun socks. This also helps you not to get too comfortable so that you won’t end up gravitating to the comfort of your bed when you feel tired during the day.
- Work on your mindset. In particular, creating accountability for yourself when working from home. The easiest way to do this is to get a co-worker, or someone you trust, to be your accountability partner. This person can be someone who works in the same field, or a friend you trust to hold you accountable. This gives you an extra support system during your day when you feel unproductive.
- Set a goal. This can be a goal for the end of the month, or even a milestone for the year. Working towards this will give you motivation to work hard during your day, and also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete your goals.
6. How to Stay Productive (Better Productivity)
After some time, you may start to get a little less productive. Sometimes this can come in the form of lethargy or procrastination. It’s perfectly normal for most people, but you can fight it with these simple tips.
- Keep your workspace clean and organized. This will keep your mind free from clutter and allow you to focus better.
- Have a comfortable desk. This can help you from feeling lethargic and make it easier to sit at your desk for long periods of time. Find a desk that is ergonomic, since this can help relieve pressure on your body while standing or sitting at your desk.
- Working in short bursts with breaks in between. This will allow you to work hard and maximize productivity during the day and give you a change of pace as well.
- Minimize the distractions in your environment. This is especially important when you are working from home. Using a tool to block certain sites on the internet, such as social media and email during certain times of the day is a great way to stay focused during your workday, and it may even help you push through the procrastination.
7. Communicate Like Never Before
You need to make sure that you are set up with the right communication tools at home. This will ensure that you are able to communicate with your team members and clients as easily as possible. Since most meetings will be virtual, having a good high-speed internet connection is a must. If you don’t have a great internet, set up video calls with your clients. Ensure that you also invest in a good microphone and headphone set to improve your audio quality. Choose a headset that has noise cancelling capabilities to ensure that you are heard clearly.
Here are the most common software and tools:
This is the most common software used to run virtual meetings. You can download this software from the Zoom website. This application will allow you to have video calls, share screens, and record your calls. The recording feature is one of the best features because it allows you to record your call and then share it with other team members or clients.
This tool is another great communication tool that will allow you to run meetings online. It is a great tool for video calling and screen sharing because its interface is easy to use and very user-friendly. This is a great alternative to Skype because it also offers screen sharing and also video calls.
This is a great tool that will allow you to organize your team and also run your meetings. The Microsoft Teams application will help you to have real-time communication with your team members. It is also very easy to use and intuitive, which means that even if you are not tech-savvy, you can still use it easily.
This is another communication tool that will allow you to share files and also conduct meetings online. The best thing about Slack is that it is very simple to use. This means that you can use it even if you are not tech-savvy.
This is another great communication tool that will allow you to organize your team and also run virtual meetings. The Google Docs application will help you to have real-time communication with your team members. It is also very easy to use and intuitive, which means that even if you are not tech-savvy, you can still use it easily.
In addition to having the right gear, you should also start talking with your team more frequently online to ensure that your relationships are strong. This will make it easier to work together and develop a schedule that works for everyone. The elements that make a team’s spirit strong are different when working in the office vs. working from home. It’s even more critical to have a strong team in place when working from home to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
8. Hold Effective Meetings
The importance of holding effective meetings when working from home cannot be stressed enough. Everyone knows that there are limitations given the nature of virtual meetings. An effective meeting online is dependent on the level of preparation, engagement of participants and how well the agenda is set.
As an employee or employer working from home, you should set aside time to make sure that you are prepared for all types of meetings. It’s important to set an agenda that everyone can follow and to make sure that all participants have access to the necessary information.
It’s also important to set the duration of each online meeting so that it doesn’t make the workday longer than what is necessary, and to set a buffer time to resolve any technical issues or to address any issues that may arise during the meeting. As a rule of thumb, you should set the duration of online meetings unconventionally, such as setting the meeting duration to 50 minutes, from an hour – or 20 minutes, from 30 minutes.
Another thing to keep in mind when working from home is to not let your computer or any other device become the focus of the meeting. The same rule applies for people who have dual monitors or are primarily using a laptop for their work. It’s important to keep your focus on the discussion at hand and make sure that you don’t get distracted by other things in your environment.
Finally, it’s important to make sure that you practice good online etiquettes. Ensure that you mute your microphone when it’s not your turn to speak and that you don’t type unnecessary or distracting things when it’s not your turn to contribute. Ensure that your environment at home is free of noise and distractions that will make it hard for you to focus on the discussion. It’s also important not to interrupt the speaker or to jump in before the speaker is done and provide feedback or suggestions.
9. Be Visible and Make Yourself Known
During online team meetings, keep your camera on to appear engaged. Videoconferencing allows you to share your screen and/or show others what you’re doing.
If you’re working on a project and need help from someone else in the room, let them know so they can see what’s happening. If you’re having trouble with a problem or are looking for feedback on how to proceed, ask for help. This will make people feel like they are in the room with you and give them a chance to jump in and take part. This will also help build trust if they know that if something is going wrong that they will have an opportunity to jump in and help out.
I’ve found that this doesn’t just apply when you’re collaborating with others, but also when you’re working solo. If you’re stuck, take a moment to explain your thought process and the problem you’re having. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but it becomes second nature and will provide you with great feedback and input from your teammates.
10. Switching Off Means Switching Off
It is very important to set boundaries with your work. When it’s time to work, you work, and when it’s time to play, you play. That may sound obvious to you, but some people find that easier said than done especially when there is no longer the divide in the environment between work and home.
It’s not a crime to check your phone or computer, but it is a crime to check them all the time. If you need to know what’s going on back at the office, don’t let it interfere with you doing your job. If you find that you are getting distracted by other things, turn off as many notifications as possible or remove yourself from the situation entirely.
Tips for Managing a Remote Team
Here we will look at the top tips for employers to manage a remote team in a way that will make it successful and allow team members to be as productive as possible.
Plan and Set Clear Expectations
There is nothing worse than starting a project and not knowing exactly what is expected of you. Communication is key to keeping a team on the same page. While you may be able to communicate with your team in person, a remote team member can’t be as forthcoming. Without communicating clearly, you run the risk of misunderstandings.
Set clear expectations up front to avoid issues in the future. Be clear with your expectations for deliverables and timelines, while also including what are considered “best practices” for how your team will communicate (such as using email versus Skype). Be sure to define the best way that you can be contacted and any required updates that should be provided at certain points throughout the project.
Protect the 1:1 time – Getting the most out of 1-1s
One-on-one time with your team is a key component of a successful remote team. This is the time that you can have a direct conversation about goals, expectations, and performance. One-on-one time is also a great opportunity to plan for future projects, set goals, and build rapport.
Where possible, it is important to protect this time from interruptions. The temptation to get caught up in other tasks can be overwhelming and can quickly squander the one-on-one time that you have with your team. If you don’t have access to this type of meeting space, consider scheduling your meetings at a specific time each week or month—or when it is convenient for both parties.
The best way to ensure that your 1:1s are effective is by having clear expectations on what will be discussed during this meeting in addition to the schedule and length of the meeting itself. It’s also helpful if you set up an agenda ahead of time so that team members know what will be discussed before they join the meeting.
Work on Team Bonding
Remote teams often struggle with building relationships, which can create a lack of team cohesion. With a lack of direct human contact, it can be difficult to build rapport, trust, and teamwork.
While there is no replacement for being able to see your coworkers in person on a regular basis, there are a few things that you can do to increase team bonding for remote workers:
- Organize team outings/events – Organizing an outing or event allows everyone to spend time together outside of the office. This will help build rapport and improve team morale. Plan this activity at least quarterly (if possible) and be sure to budget for it! Bonus points if the event involves food or drink!
- Create fun company culture – Make sure that your culture is fun and engaging. Remote teams often work long hours together so it’s important that they enjoy their time spent working together. Consider introducing some fun team activities and/or events for employees such as happy hour meetups or cross-functional game nights. The more fun your team has together the more productive they will be!
Give Help When Needed
Being remote can be tough, especially when you are in a new environment. Make sure that your team is supported when they need it and that you are setting them up for success.
Here are some ways to provide support when needed:
- Be supportive – Make sure that your team feels comfortable reaching out to you if there are any problems or issues that need to be resolved. Answer emails quickly (or schedule time to respond), check in on your team frequently, and keep an open line of communication. Remember, remote employees may feel more alone since they don’t have immediate access to coworkers in the same office.
- Set up tech support – In an ideal world, everyone would be able to set up their own technology and troubleshoot without any help or support. This is rarely the case though. If you are in a remote environment, you will want to make sure that your team has access to tech support when needed. This doesn’t mean that you have to have someone on your team with tech skills, but it does mean that you should be providing the resources for your team members to get help when they need it.
- Provide training – Since many remote workers are new to running a remote business, it is important to provide ongoing training and education for employees. This can take many forms including webinars and 1:1 coaching (or both).
Feedback and Appraisal
Regular feedback and appraisal is an essential part of managing a remote team. Make sure that you are giving regular feedback to your team on a variety of factors including their work, personal development, and performance.
It’s also important to balance this with regular appraisal from your end. Make sure that you are taking time to set goals and review performance on a regular basis. This will not only keep your employees accountable but will also help you stay organized and on track throughout the year.
While managing a remote team can be challenging, it can also be extremely rewarding! If managed correctly, a remote team can be just as productive as an in-house team. Just make sure that you include these tips into your management strategy for the best experience possible!
Health & Wellbeing When WFH
Working from home can be demanding and taxing on your health and wellbeing if general best practices are not followed. Employers and employees have a responsibility to look after our health and wellbeing and in this section we will look how this be done.
1. Learn to Take Effective Breaks
Workaholics are not necessarily productive. If you work long hours and do not have a healthy work/life balance, your health and wellbeing are at risk.
We work with the brain by focusing on one thing for a long time, eg. computer coding, which means that we cannot take in new information or deal with different issues or problems. We tend to get stuck in our ways and become less flexible, creative, empathetic and resilient as a result of too much time spent in front of the computer.
If your goal is to be a productive employee, you can maintain your wellbeing and health by working for no more than eight hours a day. You should also take a break every hour to walk around, stretch, drink some water and talk to people. Ensure that you take weekends off completely.
If we are stressed our brains cannot think clearly and we may react in an unhelpful way to situations. We may be overwhelmed by all the things we have to do, resulting in high levels of stress.
If we are exhausted it is difficult for us to concentrate and be effective at work and at home. If this goes on for long periods of time, it can affect our health as well as other areas of our lives including our relationships with family members, friends and co-workers.
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2. Get Away from The Desk
When sitting at your desk for long periods it is important to make sure that you stand up regularly so that your circulation does not get blocked due to poor circulation if your blood flow is too slow and stagnant over a period of time this can lead to varicose veins and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
We need to move our bodies regularly. Sitting for long periods of time can affect the health of your back, neck and shoulders. You may also experience a loss of flexibility and strength if you do not exercise on a regular basis.
If you are an employee at home it is still important to take regular breaks from your work so that you can have time-out from the computer screen during the day. This helps prevent eye strain and fatigue as well as preventing you from becoming isolated.
Time-out from your work can also help you to be more productive. You may not be as stressed and your thinking may be clearer if you take regular breaks from your work.
3. Stay Away from Junk Food
Eating healthily and well is very important for everyone, but it is especially important for people who work at home as they are more likely to eat poor food and junk food. The temptation to eat junk food when you are working at home is high as it is really easy to over-indulge if you do not have healthier foods in the house.
Junk food is high in fat, sugar and salt and can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obviously, it is generally ok to have the odd takeaway, but it shouldn’t become the norm – steering clear of the temptation to order junk food from the likes of Deliveroo/Uber Eats.
4. Pay Attention to Burn-Out
It’s important to take regular breaks and pay attention to your wellbeing. Working from home can be stressful and time consuming.
If you work from home you may find yourself working long hours, with no other people around and no set breaks. You may not have a manager or supervisor to help you manage your workload.
This can lead to burn-out, which is where you are so tired, stressed or over-stressed that you feel unable to work effectively or even think straight anymore.
If you find this is happening to you, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to reduce the stress in your life. You need to actively look after yourself so that you don’t burn out. This will also keep your employer happy too! Read our dedicated blog post on How to Take Effective Breaks at Work.
5. Exercise and Diet
It’s important to make time for physical activity and healthy food.
Take regular breaks from your work and go for a walk, do some stretches at your desk. If you have a dog, go for walks with them. If you have a pet, let them out in the fresh air every now and again!
If you don’t have any pets or it’s a particularly bad day where you just can’t get out of the house, then try to find some exercise videos on YouTube or other places online that are available for free. You could also try getting out to the park with friends at lunchtime, or even better if there is a gym nearby – join up!
We’ve talked about avoiding junk food and importance of eating healthy. Keep a fridge full of healthy snacks that you can grab when you need them. Fruit and vegetables are great as they contain lots of vitamins and energy.
Here are some other ways of maintaining a healthy balance in your life:
- Exercise regularly: It’s important to keep on top of your exercise routine. This helps to release endorphins which help us to feel relaxed and happy. It also helps us sleep better at night too. If you are feeling stressed or tired, a good brisk walk can help to relieve stress and make you feel better. There are many apps available that can help you track your progress.
- Drink enough water: Even though working from home does not mean that you are sitting at your desk all the time, it’s still important to drink enough water throughout the day. It’s healthy for us, and it helps us to feel more awake and less tired as well as having a positive effect on our moods too.
- Get sound sleep: You know how important sleep is when it comes to being healthy but it’s still easy to overlook this if we do not get enough quality sleep. Sleep helps us to keep our bodies healthy and keeps our brains alert and focused.
- Take notice of your body: Be aware of how you feel when you start work in the morning. If you feel tired, sluggish or still tired after going to bed early then there’s probably something wrong with your sleeping habits. If you can, try changing the times that you go to bed and get up so that it suits your natural sleep patterns better.
- Practice Relaxation Exercises: Try deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation or yoga to help you relax. Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that can help clear your mind, reduce stress and improve your focus and concentration. It’s a great way to help you switch off from work for the day.
6. Make time for socializing (plan extra social interactions)
It’s important to make time for socializing not just because it helps you feel happy and positive, but also because it will help you maintain good relationships with your family and friends.
If you work from home, you may be tempted to spend all your time working and neglect your family. This can lead to problems in the long run. Try to make plans with friends regularly outside of work hours so that you get a break from work and have time for them as well as yourself. Go for lunch or coffee etc or arrange a get together at someone’s house.
Try to make sure that your family knows how much you value them and want to spend time with them – don’t let work take over all of your life!
7. Tackling loneliness
Loneliness can be an issue for people who work from home. It’s easy to feel isolated, especially if you live in a small town or rural area. Sometimes it can be hard to meet up with people because you are working all the time and have no set schedule.
It’s important to try to build a social network outside of work. If you are working from home it’s often easier to stay home, so make an effort to get out and meet other people. You might like to work a day or two a week at a local co-working space, coffee shop or library.
The Bottom Line
Working from home is becoming the ‘new normal’ for both employers and employees. The trend is on the rise and so we believe it’s important to embrace the change and create a better work from home experience.
There are many considerations and for those that are new to remote working it can be daunting. This guide was written for those new and familiar to working from home with the aim of helping people develop a:
- Better Mindset
- Better Productivity
- Better Wellbeing
There are numerous advantages (as well as some disadvantages) to WFH but regardless of the type of work you do, working from home can be a good way to achieve your career goals. The freedom, flexibility, money and time savings are worth it.
Hopefully this guide has given you a 360 view of remote working – equipping you with the knowledge to improve your own experience. As with all things, it’s all about finding your balance.