As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge and social distancing becomes the new normal, working from home has become more relevant than ever before. Remote work can feel overwhelming, isolating, and chaotic – but it doesn’t have to. 

There’s no single method for being a productive remote worker, but there are ways you can follow to help you and your company’s employees adapt to this newfound flexibility. In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of best practices HR professionals can use to help their workforce thrive during these uncertain times.

Make Communication a Priority

In an office, it’s easy to quickly check in with your team about progress, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues, managers need to be nimble to help employees adjust to the new world of work. 

To help ease the transition to working remotely, set aside time to ask what your team needs and how you can support them by providing the flexibility they need to stay focused. Be clear about how telework will affect their day-to-day, and maintain open and honest communications to foster trust and promote productivity.

Use Video Conferencing

Working from home can make it tempting to turn off your computer camera. As an HR manager and business leader, it’s important for you to resist this urge. Face-to-face conversations are important, even if they can’t be in person. Lead by example by using your video functionality, and encouraging your workforce to do the same. 

Stay Connected

Establish Weekly Goals

A dramatic shift in environment can cause people to lose focus, or become unsure of task priorities. Curb this by scheduling time to discuss specific goals and set clear deadlines. 

Help employees stay engaged by scheduling regular meetings to replace the informal face-to-face communications that regularly occur at the office. Further, review team reporting structure and clarify roles and responsibilities so people know when to reach out to leadership or collaborate with their peers.

Schedule One-to-One Daily Check-Ins

Working remotely can make you feel just that – remote. Organize an informal fifteen minute check-in to stay in contact with your team and make yourself available to them. This will give employees the chance  to connect and communicate any unforeseen challenges they may be having. 

Create a Morning Stand-Up Meeting

Social distancing doesn’t need to mean having a breakdown in communication or team brainstorming. Utilize digital tools like Zoom or GoToMeeting to start your day face-to-face. Schedule a 5 to 10 minute morning meeting for your team to share project updates, discuss roadblocks, and problem solve together.

Experiment with your Home Office Setup

Choose the Right Spot

Working from home presents a new set of challenges, so finding a quiet, comfortable spot where you can concentrate is essential. Keep in mind that a ‘home office’ can be a desk, a table, or even your couch. The flexibility to move around gives you the chance to find the best place for you. Encourage employees to try out new areas and setups during this time of transition.

Create a Schedule 

Structure is important. Working remotely is often challenging because it’s easy to feel like you always have to be ‘on’. This isn’t sustainable. It’s critical to create boundaries between your work and the rest of your life. As an HR manager, you can help first-time teleworkers by sharing availability, responsiveness, and performance expectations. 

Emphasize that working from home does not mean you are always working. Establish clear company-wide office hours – and stick to them. Doing this will make it much easier to unplug at the designated time without feeling guilty while ensuring that remote workers avoid burnout. When the day is done, encourage employees to turn off notifications for work-related tasks and set their Slack to ‘do not disturb’.

Embrace Flexibility

Working from home doesn’t mean that you are chained to your desk (or your couch.) Take breaks throughout the day, the same way you would in an office. If you find yourself stuck, throw in a load of laundry or take your dog for a short walk. Give yourself permission to step away for a moment, the same way that you would in an office, just be sure to communicate it to your coworkers and let them know when you will be back.

Breaking up the monotony of working remotely is crucial to staying productive. Sharing these tips across your organization will help your company stay on track to achieve business objectives, ease anxieties, and help employees adjust and succeed in their new working environment. 

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