In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, many of you may be considering establishing a telework/telecommute program to keep your staff out of harms way.
I have, fortunately, been participating in teleworking situations for the past decade. I am also grateful that most of the AMS platforms that I work with today are cloud-based and allows me to access and increase your system’s impact on your mission from the comfort of my home office! Here are some best practices from my teleworking experience.
Designate your Office Space
Not all homes have a place that you can easily designate as your “workplace”, so it may take a little creativity to create yours. You don’t have to have an elaborate set-up, but it is important to choose a place in your home that provides consistency and avoids distractions. First, whatever space you choose needs to become “your space.” Choose a place where you can store and easily access work-related material. Configure the space to heighten your effectiveness. Choose a quiet place that you can concentrate end and spread out if needed. Places that you should definitely avoid include your bed (too tempting), in front of the TV (also too tempting), and a family room (too loud). Lastly, once you choose your space, don’t change it! The consistency of your space leads to consistency in your work.
Set your work hours. The circumstances that lead to you teleworking should be taken into account when creating your work schedule. The traditional 9-5 schedule may not foster great results, given one’s home environment and other obligations. If you are in a situation where you can choose your hours and results are what matters most to your organization, choose hours that can peak your productivity while allowing space for communication with your team.
Schedule breaks. Scheduling breaks will help to combat the ever-tempting desire to slack off that is brought on by the voice inside your head, the vicinity to those distractions (especially your bed) and the lack of supervision being nearby. Communicate your break schedule to your team so that they will understand the best times to reach out to you and not excuse your break schedule as slacking off.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
In the previous post, Telework Best Practices for Organizations, I suggested that the organization and supervisors over-communicate a bit. For other staff. . . Over-communicate! There’s always a voice in the back of your supervisors’ minds that questions if teleworking staff are remaining productive. You can help mitigate this voice by over-assuring that work is getting done. Participate in your internal message boards. Be timely with your progress reports and prompt to any meetings. And please answer the phone if it rings! Take communicating to other internal and external constituents as serious as you take communicating to your supervisor. Know that if your communication standards dwindle for other staff members and, especially, your members and other stakeholders, word will get back to the boss, and teleworking will end.