Working from home used to sound like a dream for many office-dwellers before the COVID-19 pandemic made it a reality. Sure, the idea of rolling out of bed and checking emails in your pajamas with a coffee sounded great, but the reality has many people wanting to return to the structured days of working from the office. As the pandemic continues to change the way we do business, many people are maintaining their work from home set up with no clear end date in sight.
As HR professionals, it’s our job to ensure that our client’s employees are not only able to work effectively from their homes, but that their teams are being led in a compassionate and realistic manner. These are our top tips for being a great Work From Home boss.
Start by Managing Your Expectations
Most people have gotten into the groove of things in this new working environment, but that doesn’t mean you can start increasing what you expect of your employees. It’s still critical to be flexible and work with your employees as their schedules may change. “You’re not going to get the traditional 40 hours within that 9 am to 5 pm timeframe during this time,” HR Consultant Ashley Sorrells says. “Understanding that employees are potentially going to be working early morning hours or late evening hours when they can is a good thing to remember.”
Keep in (Virtual) Contact
While watercooler talk may feel like a thing of the past, it’s still important to keep your team together. The format may be different, but the impact is still the same. One on one conversations between team leaders and their subordinates makes sure that everyone has a chance to be heard and to continue positive interpersonal communication.
As we all become more and more used to video conferencing, it is important to have some fun with it! Have a day-end wrap up call with cocktails, or start the day by chit-chatting over coffee. Although you’re not in the same location, making sure your team is still able to communicate and have fun together is helpful in keeping up morale at this time.
Set Clear Deadlines
Without being able to pop your head into someone’s cube and ask for an update on their project, you may need to practice a little bit of restraint to prevent micromanaging. We highly recommend setting abundantly clear expectations of your team with deadlines for their work.
“If you have certain things you need by certain times, make sure your staff is aware of it,” Ashley says. This way if someone needs to work odd-hours while they keep an eye on their kids, they’ll know what is due and when so they can plan accordingly.
Always Avoid Micromanaging
Nobody likes micromanaging in the office, and it feels even worse out of the office. It’s tempting to check in with your staff on every little thing that they’re doing but you’ll need to avoid micromanaging at all costs. This not only sets your people on edge, which isn’t helpful during an already stressful time, but it makes you more stressed out too!
You’ve spent the time creating an awesome team, now is the time to trust them!
Support Homeschooling Parents
With schools across the country closed until next school year, many parents are now in charge of ensuring their children’s education. If you have staff with school-aged children they’ll need your support now more than ever.
Make sure to keep lines of communication open and understand that these parents now have two full-time jobs to juggle. This includes allowing your employees to have time when they are and are not available during working hours. While they may be able to work while overseeing homework, they probably aren’t able to take a phone call during that time.
Find out more about being a good WFH boss from our new video with Ashley, below: