Working from Home During a Time of Change

Alliance News |

Unless you have been under a rock (which actually might be to your benefit as you read on) you’ve seen the global impact of Covid-19 also known as the Coronavirus.  New Hampshire, unfortunately, has not been absolved from the virus’s impact which has disrupted everything from schools to elderly care.  However, there is a unique opportunity for businesses to shift, iterate and place their go to market in employees’ hands to deliver results remotely at home.  After all, we do have the mentality of our State Motto, Live Free or Die!

I’ve led remote teams for the majority of my career with individuals at other offices or specifically in their home.  When you take the plunge to work remotely, there is quite a bit to understand outside of firing up a Video Conference service for employees.  Before we cover that challenge, let’s look at the trend we’re seeing in the industry.

Workplace Analytics has provided so much data on this topic you could spend time really understanding how technology has driven the shift to remote work.  The question many are asking are we truly prepared for this cultural shift and if so, can we deliver a positive global economic impact?  Here is their site with data and you can be the judge.

Most agree, nothing replaces the ability to be in the office or at a customer site to build in-person relationships.  However, we have been dealt with a horrific pandemic situation and forced to be remote so how can you adapt?  Here’s a brief list of a few areas that work for me:

Tools to invest if you can find them now:

–       Headset with a microphone.  The Audio will sound more professional vs. using the mic on your PC plus the headphones will block out other potential distractions.  If you have headphones/earbuds from a phone, try calls on that device first, the quality will be better.

–       If you use a Video Conferencing Tool, try to find an area of your house with a blank wall.  Why?  It removes distracting the person on the other end to look at other items in your home.  Curiosity diminished and 100% focus on the call’s agenda!

–       If your video conferencing is “choppy” shut off video and use audio-only.

–       $10/Month you can order DocuSign for electronic signatures/faxing.

–       If you have a VOIP provider at work, forward your desk phone to your mobile device.

–       If you are distracted with Social Media or other non-work-related sites (you know who you are) most service providers or wireless routers you own offer blocked site lists.  Put them in during business hours to police yourself.  Alternatively there are browser plugins that give you many flexible options such as StayFocused.

Cadence for Employees:

–       Maintain the SAME routine as if going to the office.  If you hit the gym in the morning, work out at home or change up the routine and go for a run or walk.  This helps you with mental toughness otherwise it will feel like you’re in limbo or on PTO.

–       Dress & be ready to work when you would normally begin your commute.  It’s easy to slide into a home office now in your sweatpants etc. but remember, this is to maintain your stride and you wouldn’t do this at work.

–       Set a schedule for Breaks.  It seems obvious, but place 15 min slots in your calendar for the next 5 days.  This forces you to have a bio break, grab a snack, step outdoors which you are now replacing walking the halls of your company.

–       Reach out to (1) former peer in your industry daily.  Send a Text, place a call or drop a message on LinkedIn to check in on someone.  Often this can be a breath of fresh air to catch-up with someone and I promise you it will make their day as it’s probably been a while since you’ve connected.   They may have tips for you too!

Cadence for Managers:

–       Set the mission of working remotely.  It’s ok if a dog barks, kids scream or there is an echo during a call.  For many, childcare just changed so try to work with the team and their situation as their partner might need to be on calls as well.

–       Don’t belabor the Virus with your team or customers.  Everyone is aware, try your best to move past it but don’t ignore it.  A fine balance to maintain normalcy here.

–       Give each team member a remote assignment to update the group.  For example, if a product update is coming, marketing programs changing or a customer escalation process is underway, assign someone to be the lead communicator for all things on that project.  Why? It spreads the load and teams want to make an impact, there is no need for a Hero Manager at the moment.

–       Practice what you preach – if you have set expectations or cadences, don’t be the one who is lapsing.  Show up 1-2 minutes before a call commences, check-in with teams but don’t try to be overbearing every hour as it’s a fine balance so just be aware of your surroundings with individuals.

Lastly, the State of NH has provided an excellent site for all of your Covid-19 resources including links to the CDC, DHHS, WHO and more.  Additionally, you can find updated information, instructions and recent executive orders from Governor Sununu and I encourage everyone in the state to bookmark this page.

Let’s crush this virus remotely, show the resolve of how we can conduct business, support our customers and above all be safe with our family or friends.  Good luck and feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if I can help you with other ideas….equally, I’d love to hear yours.

Best, Gary Sloper, NHTA Board Member