It stills feels like madness that only 9 weeks ago we were all forced to retreat to the safety of our homes and establish a new model for working. This new working from home shift has created a major change for both employers and employees and we’re all being called on to exhibit autonomy, trust and discipline.
There are plenty of polls and posts popping up online asking everyone’s thoughts on the overall ‘working from home movement’ and I for one strongly encourage it. I’ve always worked better from home without the distractions in the office however, collaboration and interaction with people is also a key part of what we do in recruitment (and many other businesses). That human element is what drives us in many ways and we’ve all had to adapt to being “socially distant” while being in #iso.
On the positive side of things, there is no denying that we all have more time on our hands. Without the twice-daily commute there is more time to focus on exercise, hobbies and spending time with children.
Working from home is not for everyone and every business. But it looks like working from home is going to be our new normal for a while yet and even once we are all encouraged to return to our offices full time, there will be many employees who put their hand up to make working from home more permanent. But how do we get there?
Working from home requires trust:
Employers need to trust that their staff will deliver on what they say they will, and when they say they will. Employees require trust so that they are not being dismissed or their input devalued because they are not in the office.
So how can employers establish a strong working from home foundation?
Employers need to have clear expectations and stick to them. Performance is not going to be judged by how much time is spent at your desk (cause who really knows) but it will be judged on output and delivery. Not everyone can self-motivate. But a good employee can deliver on a task and if they can’t, well…
Make sure your employees know what they are expected to deliver on and how their performance will be measured.
Keep the communication and transparency open. We’ve found that running our zoom team meetings through the day while we are all logged in, has kept the team together, but also means we are all still seeing each other and engaging with each other consistently. Even though we all mute ourselves for much of the day, it means we all still feel like one team and we are all able to communicate throughout the day. Without spelling it out, there is a transparency that we all relate to.
What can employees do to build a strong working from home foundation?
As an employee, if you are working from home at the moment, now is your time to shine. You have been given an opportunity to build a solid foundation of trust and discipline. Show your manager or employer what you are made of.
If your work is a little slower or lighter than normal, put your hand up to help. Ask if there are projects you can support them with, or to tweak back office systems. Jump onto a few of the million free online courses, show your employer that you are ready to develop and come out of this time stronger than ever. Many companies are tight on money at the moment but they are doing their best to keep their staff on. They want to keep you. So show them that they made an excellent choice by keeping you on. Look at the quieter days as an opportunity to grow your knowledge of the company.
Build the trust now so that there is an opportunity to work from home later on, once we are all back to business as usual. Working from home does not mean long lunches, running errands during the day, Netflix running in the background. Remember, that once trust is gone, it’s gone forever.
Focus on the outcome. While there might be a few more (or perhaps a few less) distractions working from home, you need to focus on delivering what is expected of you (and more). It might mean having to log on later in the evening to finish something, or jumping in earlier to a conference but you need to do whatever is required to deliver what you said you would.
Working from home requires trust but the rewards will be huge
Working from home means no commute, more autonomy, increased efficiency and productivity. There are plenty of surveys circulating at the moment proving the fact that productivity has increased from staff working from home. But for this to happen long term, there needs to be a solid foundation of trust. Trust needs to be established by both the employer and employee.
Play this card right, establish the trust now and we will see this shift of working from home become more and more normal, even once this virus is in our history.