Before the pandemic, working from home was something that a few people did and a lot more were interested in trying out. Now it’s rather suddenly become a fact of life for entire workplaces and teams, and many of us are still working to adapt. If you’re finding it difficult to manage some elements of working with your team or even staying on top of your own workflow and habits in this new normal, here’s some great advice compiled from my clients who are experienced in successfully working and leading from home
For Your Team:
Overcommunicate, especially when things are uncertain. Provide additional detail and context to make up for the information people can no longer pick up organically in casual conversations. Be as clear and consistent as possible to keep everyone moving in the same direction.
Raise the flag if something looks off. It’s important to speak up, because it’s harder to spot things that have gone awry when everyone is working separately. If you have a concern, check in to see if what others think . And if you’re spinning your wheels on a project, let your colleagues know. Identify problems early so you can start working toward solutions.
Create inner circles of collaboration. If you do your best work in collaboration with a work partner or small group, block a few hours to share a virtual room. Use technology to see each other, view each other’s screens and set up a virtual whiteboard to share ideas and work through problems.
Check in with others. Find the structure that works best for maintaining open channels with each member of your team, making sure you check in regularly. It’s more important than ever that you ask lots of questions and listen to the answers.
Recognize effort as well as accomplishments. There are fewer opportunities for recognition when everyone is working separately, so make an extra effort. In addition to celebrating wins, recognize those who are contributing extra effort and longer hours, those who are working through stressful situations, and those who have taken a risk or tried something new—even if it didn’t work out.
Start and end the work day at a specific time. Those who are new to working from home often experience burnout because they feel they never leave work. Set a schedule for the beginning and end of every work day. Of course there will be some nights you work late, but make them the exception, not the rule.
Work with your peak hours and low-energy moments. We all have times when we’re more focused and productive and times when our energy is lower and we’re more prone to distraction. An advantage of working from home is that it’s easier to balance your time, energy and productivity around your individual rhythm.
Remove as many distractions as possible. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to realize you’ve just spent an hour on social media or down an internet rabbit hole. Take social media off your work computer. Leave your phone in another room and get rid of any distractions that you know will get in the way of your productivity.
Create breaks during the day. No one can sit at a desk for 12 hours straight and do their best work. Even 15 to 30 minutes a couple of times a day can make a big difference in your focus and clarity. Treat it like a meeting and make yourself unavailable.
Exercise or do something vigorous at least four days a week. Aside from the physical benefits, exercise increases mental sharpness and makes you better at handling stress. It’s harder to fit exercise in, especially if you’re used to the routine of going to a gym, but your productivity and mental attitude—not to mention your health—depend on it.
Pay attention to your mindset. Working from home makes it extra important that you stay on top of your thoughts and mental attitude. It can be harder to find ways to clear your head, and there are fewer interactions with others to keep you grounded. Find things that nourish you—take your laptop out on the porch, play some music, read an author whose work inspires you.
Fight loneliness and isolation. Working from home, you miss out on camaraderie, companionship and interacting with others. But you don’t have to feel you’re on an island. Set up a virtual lunch date or happy hour, or create chat channels for topics of interest. Spend a bit of time every day connecting with co-workers about nonwork topics- think of it as the online version of stopping by their desk to chat.
Lead from within: Successfully working from home is a skill; it takes time and commitment and dedication to develop that skill. But with a great leader at the helm, people and teams can find their way and be as successful as ever.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- How Great Leadership is Generated in Significant Crisis
- How to Lead Your Team When The Future Is Uncertain
- The One Aspect Of Crisis Management That No One Talks About
- How The Best Leaders Are Already Planning Past The Crisis
- How to Engage Employees During Uncertain Times
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.