As many of us are settling into our new normal during shelter-in-place protocols, it has become increasingly apparent how abnormal the scope and circumstances of our situation have become. While some of us are lucky enough to transition to a remote work environment, it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t a standard “work from home” situation. We are balancing work, homeschooling children, waiting in 3-hour grocery store lines, trying to stay healthy, and experiencing waves of anxiety during uncertain times. The usual work from home tips and tactics helped to get our teams set up during the initial transition, but how do we create a remote work environment that is sustainable and manageable for the foreseeable future?
Create work agreements; don’t rely on assumptions.
With employees working remotely and potentially taking on new responsibilities, you might need to take a few extra steps to “check-the-box", so to speak. Work assignments that are sent via email or announced in a meeting are more likely to slip through the cracks right now. Within Moovila, every time a task is assigned, that team member is required to accept the work assignment. That step might feel unnecessary if you are working side-by-side, but it’s crucial when teams are separated and working unusual hours. By creating these small agreements, managers can rest assured that their assignments have been acknowledged and are more likely to be completed by the given due date. This also gives contributors an opportunity to have a discussion if they are running out of capacity.
Set clear priorities and next steps.
Create a single system of record for your team so managers and contributors know exactly who is working on what and when. It might require more planning on the front-end than you are used to, but it will pay-off to keep your team moving efficiently in the long run. If someone on your team is getting up at early to crank out work, you don’t want them calling you at 4 am to ask what they should work on next! If you have a clearly documented plan, team members will know exactly what to pick up next. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have a backlog or pick-up bucket of items for team members to tackle if they hit a roadblock or are waiting on another team member to finish a preceding task.
Acknowledge that new 9-to-5 won’t be 9-to-5.
With trying to keep families fed, kids occupied, and loved ones taken care of, it’s understandable that keeping the same 8-hour block of work might not be realistic for everyone on your team. By making a few adjustments, you can keep your team on track even if their working hours might vary. Figure out a block of time throughout the day to schedule meetings that is most likely to work for everyone. This will help your team try to plan their quiet time in advance. Additionally, create a method for urgent or emergency communications. Whether it’s a text, phone call, or email flagged as high priority, establish an urgent message system for your team so they know it something is critical or timely. Just make sure to use it sparingly, to make sure people pay attention when it’s truly needed.
Take it one day at a time.
When it’s time for you to sit down and get to work, think in 24-hour timelines. Ask yourself, “What do I need to get done today?” and set short, manageable goals instead of a 20-item checklist. Also, when assigning work to your team, consider if an 8:00am deadline the next day might make more sense than a standard 5:00pm. Your team might need late night or early morning hours to make it work. With Moovila, the prioritization is done for you and your team, so everyone can start their day, whenever that might be, knowing exactly what to tackle.
And don’t forget, we are all new to this! Check-in on your coworkers, take a shower, hug a dog. If you and your team are struggling through this transition, we are here to help.