Our work culture is changing on a global scale. But working from home doesn’t have to mean being apart.
The trick is to establish new routines for communication and collaboration. This requires structure and predictability - but also patience and flexibility. With the right practices in place, we can work efficiently and bring teams together at the same time.
Follow these seven best practices to turn ‘remote’ working into ‘connected’ working.
Put the right groundwork in place
Make sure you have the tools you need to communicate and collaborate effectively.
- Hardware (computer, microphone, camera) and necessary software
- High-speed internet
- Quiet and secure place to work
- Easy access to team collaboration groups and shared drives
- Create a one-to-one chat with your manager
- Document preferred working hours and share with your team and partners
- Document goals, deliverables and timelines
Discuss working preferences with your manager and team
Talk about communication preferences (email, chat, video), one-to-one frequency, decision making, and how/when to escalate. If you’re a manager, don’t forget to check in with your team regularly. Remote working can be isolating - even a quick ‘hi’ can go a long way.
Regularly communicate and share context
When teams are dispersed, it’s difficult to know who has been exposed to project information and updates, so reinforcing context in writing, one-to-ones and team meetings is important. Always start with the highest level of context in meetings and written documents, ensuring everyone is aware of goals, deliverables and status before going into the details. When in doubt, overcommunciate so everyone is in the loop.
Manage your meetings well
Well structured meetings and follow-ups are critical to helping people stay productive and connected when some or all of the team is working from home.
- Set meetings during times when people’s availability overlaps as much as possible. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid an early or late meeting across a remote team - in those instances, ensure that the inconvenience is distributed fairly.
- Make sure meetings have a clear goal and agenda, and pre-reads are sent out in advance. Adding this information to the meeting invite keeps it all in one, easy-to-access place.
- If you’re leading a fully remote meeting, assign a moderator and establish ground rules to ensure everyone is heard.
- Use video calls for meetings, including one-on-ones. Video helps establish presence and connection. Use video conference technology that works for your team (e.g. Workplace, Zoom, BlueJeans, Portal, Messenger Video, Facetime, etc).
- Consider using headphones for meetings to ensure you can hear well and to block out other distractions.
- When you’re not speaking during a remote meeting, be sure you’re on mute so everyone can hear the speaker.
- Be present. Stay focused in meetings and send non-verbal cues that you’re switched on. Small actions like head nods are effective in helping others gain confidence you’re engaged in the conversation.
- Be thoughtful of people who are working from home when the multiple people in the meeting are in different locations, such as in an office or on the field.
- Share detailed notes after the meeting. Create collaborative posts/documents for all meetings, and assign someone on the team to make sure notes, feedback, mocks, decisions, etc. are tracked and shared.
Pick up the phone when it makes sense
A quick call (during working hours) is often the fastest way to work through a one-to-one or small group issue. Set a team norm to use the phone to resolve issues quickly or if there are issues with connectivity.
Be thoughtful about hard conversations
Understand that some topics can be harder to talk about when people are remote (giving constructive feedback, for example). If you need to talk through something sensitive, start by asking how the person is feeling, and follow-up with them after the conversation to check-in again. Plan to have these conversations via video call, not on the phone.
Practice good self-care
- Build a routine that works for you and your team. Create a routine that helps you get your work done efficiently and effectively. For some people this is about rebuilding the structure of the office environment in their home office, while for others, it’s about establishing a new routine.
- Set reasonable boundaries. Working remotely on projects can lead to feeling ‘always-on’. Prioritize breaks in the day and be aware of potential signs of burnout in yourself and others. This is particularly important during times of crisis, when family members may be home from school or work.
- Stay connected. Connect with your social communities (on Workplace and Facebook) and, as it makes sense, meet for social chats or even just virtual ‘coffee chats’ to stay close to your coworkers and friends.
Make sure meetings have a clear goal and agenda, and pre-reads are set out in advance.
It’s never been more important to be a connected company.. With the right tools and planning, working from home doesn’t have to feel remote. For more resources on being apart together, visit our Work From Home Hub.