Benchmark Business Group

Working From Home

July 28, 2020

The key to making remote work successful is to set employees up for success in the very beginning.

However, due to COVID-19, what was initially considered to be a short-term need to work from home, has for many employees turned into an ongoing work from home situation without a clear end date.

For many employers it’s time to hit the reset button and have conversations with employees that re-frame expectations and explore the best solutions for working at home, given their individual situations.

Technology has made it easier to get many tasks done even if you don’t set foot in the office. Yet we hear from many business owners that some employees working remotely are not as efficient or effective as they need to be. Given the difficult dynamics for many employees working at home, owners and managers have been reluctant to discuss inefficiency issues with employees. Quite simply, they realize times are tough for employees and they don’t want to add to their stress.

So, how do you address the need for an employee to get better results while working from home?

The answer is remote work can work, if you design it to work with your employee. It can be a collaborative conversation. We recommend the following tips to ensure that remote work is successful:

Understand the situation - It’s important to know why the employee is working from home and how the situation might impact work. For instance, if an employee is needing to work from home because their child’s school is closed they will have different barriers than if they are staying home because they have a medical reason that doesn’t allow them in the office. Knowing the situation helps you ask better questions. You should know:

  • How will this situation impact an employee’s work schedule and hours worked?
    • Is there any flexibility around number of hours worked?
    • Can changing their schedule be adapted to this situation?
       
  • What activities are they responsible for that are time sensitive?
    • Will they be able to perform them on time?
    • What does their schedule need to look like to ensure they meet deadlines?
       
  • What are barriers they might encounter and what is their plan to overcome these barriers?

Discuss their home office setup - Asking questions about how their workspace is set up will allow them - and you - to be proactive in handling frustrations. Ask questions such as: What is the noise level? Are there distractions? Do they have the tools they need? How will they handle interruptions? Are they comfortable?

Set Clear Expectations and Results - Even if you already have clear expectations and results for their position, it’s a good time to review them. Does working remotely change the expectations and results? Which expectations and results may be more difficult for them to accomplish? How can that be worked around? Be sure to identify the barriers and be creative and collaborative with the employee in solving any potential issues. 

Implement Upside Down Meetings - We highly encourage the use of weekly meetings that are led by the employee to focus on the results of their position. Typical meetings are led by the manager, but by flipping the meeting to be led by the employee you change the energy of the meeting. Through an agreed-upon agenda, based on their position, the employee is enabled to take ownership of their work and their results. This way, each and every week there is communication about their work and a time to discuss issues as they arise.

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