Work From Home: Navigating the Transition to Remote Work
Article by Cassie Kaddatz
When COVID-19 hit Australian shores, our workplaces changed dramatically within a matter of weeks. Gone were our daily commutes, grabbing a quick coffee with colleagues and the ability to turn around in your chair to ask someone a question.
These everyday normalities were replaced by thoughts, questions and concerns of how team members would effectively transition to remote work.
“Will they work as productively from home?”
“How can we replicate the office environment without physical contact?”
“How can we maintain solid communication when needed?”
For team members, these questions were similar.
“How can I reach out to colleagues to chat or ask a quick question?”
“Does working from home change my employers’ expectations?”
“Do I need to be more available to teammates than in the office?”
And most importantly, “if I wear tracksuit pants will anyone see them?”
Home: The New Workplace
There was no doubt a whirlwind of questions and uncertainties when the proposition of transitioning to remote work was raised. Working from home (WFH) is now the new workplace for many employees and a change that may have come about very quickly. Leaving little (or no!) time for the team to become accustomed to the new ‘normal’. This change may have presented challenges but with those challenges’ opportunities can be found. The key for employers is to be open & honest with team members – be clear with your expectations, encourage questions to be asked & keep lines of communication open.
Tips for an Effective Transition to Remote Work
Here are some considerations for working remotely and key areas that may assist your team to become more easily settled in their new reality.
1. Maintain Communication
Communication is the most important factor to get right for your team and the biggest loss they may feel WFM. Your team needs to feel that they can still easily contact you. The options for online communication tools is huge and a business needs to assess and evaluate these against current software and apps they are using. At SRJWW we are using a combination of Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook & Zoom to keep our team communication levels high .
2. Consider Remote Work Capabilities
Do your employees need additional equipment or software to be able to effectively work from home? It’s important that priority is given to this in the early days of WFH (or prior if possible). There’s nothing more frustrating (and less productive) than not being able to make a relatively easy transition to remote work. There’s also the possibility that what works in the office may not work when the team access work from home. If this occurs, how quickly can a change be made?
3. Ensure a Dedicated Workspace
Ensure your team have a dedicated workspace at home including a reliable internet connection and are briefed on good posture etc.
4. Maintain Normality
Try to maintain a similar routine for your team as if they were in the office. This may include daily huddles to discuss to-do lists using video conference software. We’ve adopted a new app to help our team track daily work – Jell Standup – making it easier for everyone to know what each other is working on and feel connected.
5. Encourage Socialisation
Transitioning to telecommuting can be hard. Don’t forget that employees will still need the social interaction that work provides. While team members will organise this themselves, encourage one or two quick social catch-ups each day or week for everyone to discuss non-work topics.
6. Support Mental Health
The mental health of your team is extremely important when transitioning to working from home. Ensure that they have regular breaks, are aware of your expectations and are still able to separate working at home versus being at home. They may feel compelled to work additional hours as their workstation is easily accessible in the next room.
Be mindful that this crisis may have affected others close to them, for example their partner may have been stood down or their children may require homeschooling. Encourage open and honest conversations around this so everyone is on the same page and expectations are clear.
Your team may love WFH or they may not like it all! During these challenging times, it’s important to ensure that all lines of communication remain open and if enough feedback is given on specific issues, that quick action is taken.
Returning to the Office
Also start to consider when COVID-19 is behind us and our work can revert to the office, your team may need time to adjust back to the ‘old normal’. Should everything go back to pre-COVID19 times or have some of the process and software introduced for remote work been successful and should remain? Some team members may also request to continue to work from home, so it’s important to consider if your policies and employment agreements need to be updated.
Get in Touch
If you would like to discuss the transition to remote work, your business WFH processes and software apps, or need assistance in implementing these please contact SRJ Walker Wayland on 07 3490 9988.