Preparing for Telework
Some proven practices from resilient teleworkers.
The Coronavirus news is penetrating every aspect of our culture from the ancient liturgical customs of the common cup of communion to avoiding crowds. I tend to agree with the medical professionals who are realistic but calm. To be resilient citizens and workers, we need to do the things we can to control the spread of this virus. As a life-saving measure, your company or agency may choose to allow teleworking.
So with the numbers increasing every day, there is a reasonably good chance, at least in some parts of the country that businesses and governmental agencies will move to more teleworking, at least for some time.
With that in mind, I took some time to do some research on good teleworking habits. My goal is to help you become a more resilient worker and manager.
These are from multiple sources as well as from my own work as a Worklife Consultant with numerous governmental agencies.
This article will focus on both employees and managers.
12 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE TELEWORKING
- Dress for work. This helps you get prepared for your regular business hours physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Set normal business hours. Be clear with family and friends that you have certain periods during the day that you cannot be disturbed. One friend actually has a home office in an open space in her home has a homemade sign that says, “DO NOT DISTURB!’ And on the other side, “COME ON IN!” This helps her be able to focus and get work tasks done.
- Try “Chunking!” Our human brain works best when we break up a task or day by chunking. Chunking is a process where you take 25 minutes and drill in and focus on your task or project and then walkway for five minutes. This system helps you lower your distraction and really dig into the task at hand, and it has a built-in break of 5 minutes every half an hour. Now you may be tempted to go for fifty minutes and take a ten-minute break. Still, many time management experts feel that the break every thirty minutes actually makes you more productive and increases your personal sense of accomplishment.
- Zone In and focus on the tasks at hand. For me, that sometimes means turning off my iPhone and turning off any notifications for messages and emails. It is amazing, when I do this, I can get tasks done quickly and usually ahead of schedule.
- Maximize your use of technology. If this is an area that needs improvement, teleworking is a great way to enhance your skills and use of technology. Skype, Facetime, Zoom, and other virtual meeting places can keep you and your coworkers both connected and on task.
- Stay out of the kitchen, laundry room, and bedroom. Work in your home office, or designated space. Who knows, you can do chores if you finish early.
- Purchase some inexpensive noise-canceling headphones, if you are easily distracted by noise.
- Manage your workload. Many times, we can complete tasks in a more timely manner when we telework because of fewer work-related distractions.
- Be intentional about staying in touch with your manager/supervisor and coworkers.
- Avoid going to non-work appointments during working hours.
- This one is a little weird, but I have been told it works. Take the time that it usually takes you to get to work, and use that time to help you prepare for your teleworking. For example, if you leave the house at 7:30 and arrive at work at 8:00, use that time to prepare yourself for work. Try not to use if for chores.
- Move around when you take your breaks.
5 Tips for Leaders and Managers
- Use NATO for a way of leading team meetings. Nature, Agenda, Time, and Outcomes. This helps you stay on time, keep your focus, and helps all participants feel that the meeting was timely and productive.
- When holding team meetings, rotate facilitators. This not only maintains individual and group accountability but gives everybody’s voice a chance to be heard and is an excellent way for emerging leaders to develop.
- Schedule regular one-on-one meetings, This is a great way to have direct, personal contact with your team members.
- Be creative in finding ways for team members to connect, while teleworking. If feasible and practical, try to have some gathering while teleworking. That is if it is safe and appropriate.
- Don’t forget the importance of appropriate praise and recognition for the team. Whether texting, messaging, or on team calls, make sure you acknowledge the work of your organization. This is an excellent way towards building morale and can go a long way in keeping the team connected and concerned for each other.