Whether you are a remote worker or are managing a group of remote workers, keeping everyone busy without requiring them to spend their whole life working or leaving some folks stranded and bored can be extremely challenging. Staying flexible is important, but the whole crew needs some time each working day as a team.
Keep a Schedule
The whole group will need to be working simultaneously for at least part of each working day. Therefore, please do your best to ensure that this schedule is at least consistent daily or posted in a shared space where everyone can check it.
If you manage employees in different time zones, you may need to move this joint time around a bit, or you may need to shorten the required attendance schedule. For example, if you have workers in New York and Los Angeles, four hours in the middle of the day could be an ideal schedule to allow for remote workers to be at work together.
Use Tools That Allow Lots of Input
Use shared electronic whiteboards for everyone to have some input, especially if you are doing some shared problem-solving. This whiteboard should also give access to
- shared project lists
- shared to-do lists
- a shared list of deadlines
With the right tools, everyone can grab the tasks that suit their skills best to get to the point where projects get at least mostly completed before you need to connect as a team to put on the finishing touches.
You will have workers who need to step away in the middle of the day. You will also have workers who come up with great fixes for challenging problems while exercising early in the morning. It would be best if you had those ideas. They need the flexibility, so make sure you allow enough autonomy that everyone can step away, care for family, get some exercise, and do whatever else it takes to make their lives work.
Set a minimum time that everyone needs to put in over the course of the day and the shared hours. Ensure that folks know what their tasks are at the end of the group or shared hours and allow time to check-in at the beginning of the shared time.
Be Generous With Gear
Ensure that everyone working from home has great gear, easy access to tech support, and the ability to add on apps for focus and timing tools. For most workers, the best wireless office headset is critical to make it possible to connect when working but away from their desks. These tools can also make it much easier to end contact at the end of a conversation without having to dash back to the desktop.
Don’t Over-Zoom Your Team
Not everything needs a meeting. Whether you are attending a meeting or presenting at a meeting, the Zoom experience feels like a television gig. There is no downtime when putting together a Zoom meeting.
- sending out a video, presentation or a chat with a “respond by” time
- use your email notifications to know when emails get read
- send out a list of points to consider and ask for a video response instead of a joint video conference
The knowledge that you as a worker are on screen can be daunting for many workers. Add to that the pressure for a quick response, and you likely will not be getting the best information back. If you want to send out a quick query for information on several points, doing so via video meeting will not result in a well-thought-out response.
Block Out Socialization Time
If your team is only building a working relationship over problem-solving, chances are pretty good that they will have problem relationships. So encourage your remote workers to share images of family, pets, trips, and other personal events that give them joy daily.
It can be tough to build a healthy work-life balance when you work from home. To foster great work, wonderful ideas, and healthy working relationships, you will need to invite the whole person to work on those shared screens.