Here in the 21st Century, almost all managers have at least some of their workers who are working remotely some of the time. Our goal is to get the maximum productivity out of all of our team members including the remote workers. Since they are not in the office and we can’t see what they are doing, we may not be aware of just exactly how remote workers go about managing their day. What can a manager do in order to get the most out of their remote workers?
What Does It Take To Successfully Work Remotely?
Once upon a time managers were concerned that their remote workers wouldn’t actually be working. Over time we’ve all learned that people working from home actually struggle to stop working. So what do workers do when they are working from home? They often find themselves working constantly, neglecting to take breaks and working well into the evening. Managers need to realize that many remote workers enjoy working from home, even despite this pain-point. But if managers can help their team members fix this overworking issue, they can get better results for themselves, and their teams.
Find Ways To Separate Your Workspace
Managers need to understand that when workers are starting out working from home they may find themselves falling into work even during off-hours. If they can move to a home with a designated office, it can become easier to unplug from work – their office is a work environment, and the rest of the home is not. This is something that remote workers can relate to, especially those that may be working out of cramped apartments. If a team member is working in their living space, carrying their laptop to the sofa, the kitchen table, even to their bedroom to answer emails before bed, they will find themselves working more. They’ll also feel as though they are living at the office, rather than working from home.
It helps to physically separate a team member’s workspace. Even if they don’t have a home office, they can designate a desk in the corner of their living room as a workspace, or even reserve an “office chair” at their kitchen table that is exclusively for work. Then, they need to commit to only working in that space if at all possible – they should not take a Zoom call in the armchair where they relax, or skim email in bed. This will help them avoid falling into work during off-hours, and help them step out of “work mode” when their workday ends.
Attempt To Set A Schedule – And Stick To It
Every team member has demands on their time, especially as they climb the professional ladder. When people are working remotely, virtual meetings and digital communications are especially prevalent. It’s crucial to structure the time that they can control by setting a clear, consistent schedule with clear start and stop times for their day, similar to how an office might have standard hours for employees. If a team member jumps on email before they have gotten out of bed, it’s like they stepped into the office in their PJ’s. If they don’t pick a time to “leave work,” they’ll keep tackling their to-do list until they’ve worked past 9pm. The only way to avoid these traps is to set boundaries for themselves. Before they turn on their phone or computer in the morning, they need to start with a consistent morning routine that gets them started on the right foot. Then, decide when they’ll end your workday and stick to it. They can even create a virtual commute to unwind, rather than jumping right from work into dinner. These small changes will help them to avoid overworking.
Always Practice Self-CareSomething that every member of your team should do is to prioritize their well-being. Team members often feel an urge to go above and beyond the call of duty by working more, but doing this at the expense of their health will only hurt us in the long run. We must intentionally plan self-care to avoid this. A great start is to prioritize sleep. Team members need to learn how to set a bedtime for themselves and commit to putting electronics away for 30 to 60 minutes before that set time. It’s also helpful to prioritize a team member’s exercise. Setting a 30-to-60-minute exercise break is a great way to break up a remote worker’s workday. It’s not necessary to train for a marathon or become a bodybuilder – even a brisk walk or a yoga video during a lunch break can do wonders for a team member’s focus and energy.
What All Of This Means For You
Managers are responsible for every member of their team. Their goal is to find ways to get the most productivity out of each team member, even those who are working remotely. How to get the most out of our workers who are working remotely is a challenge that we are all facing. If we can do this successfully, then we can get the most out of our team.
We need to make the members of our team understand that if they want to be productive at home, they need to create a space that they can work in. This means that we need to encourage our remote workers to create separate spaces for them to work at home. Another important thing that remote workers need to do is to establish a schedule for their work. A key reason that this is so important is so that they can stop working when the day is done. Each worker needs to care for their physical health. There are many different ways that they can go about doing this, but the end result of good health is shared by all of the approaches.
Remote work can offer many rewards, and we can reap those benefits even more if we prevent remote work from spilling into our home life. These strategies won’t just make your team members happier and more effective, but they will set a good example for everyone you lead as well.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: How can a manager check on the status of their remote workers?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I don’t know about you, but I find job interviews to be fairly nerve racking. There are a lot of different things that we have to be aware of when we are interviewing for that next job. We have to dress correctly, be polite, show up on time, and a host of other things that are not directly related to our manager skills. It turns out that there might be something else that we need to do correctly. We need to bring the right, not the wrong, accessories along with us.