WFH: Tips for Employees and Leaders to Have Successful, Productive Remote Work Days

As more and more companies are enforcing WFH policies, here's how employees and leaders can collaborate and stay engaged.                                            

Carter Liebscher|
March 17, 2020

As more and more companies are (responsibly) enforcing employees to work from home—”WFH” for seasoned remote workers—employees and leaders used to heading to the office are showing some apprehension.

Employees might be worried they’ll be distracted (even though Forrester found that an office environment is also distracting), and company leaders are worried about lost productivity (even though Airtasker found that telecommuters work more 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees).

Despite evidence proving the validity and effectiveness of remote work, some employees are leaders are looking for reassurance and guidance.

Here are some recommendations from other organizations that promote remote work—like the Ideawake Innovation team—on staying productive while WFH.

You have a routine for your “normal” work day, so why shouldn’t develop another one for your “new normal” workday?

The unstructured nature of remote work gives at first gives employees a jolt of excitement, but then the reality sets in: There’s no commute to account for, your daily lunch or walk times are obliterated, and you there’s no dress code.

Overcome the disruption in your rhythm by coming up with a new one. Write your ideal remote work day early in the week, and try to meet that schedule as the week progresses.

Holding yourself to the same standards you do at the office will help you stay on track for a productive day.

Mentally, physically—whatever gives you a moment of relief and ensures you’re ready for the next task.

While you don’t have built-in break periods, such as grabbing a coffee from the kitchen or eating out for lunch, scheduling breaks at home in, say, five-minute increments can help clear your mind.

As mentioned above, remote work doesn’t have the built-in socialization as office work does. Whereas the break room is a valuable place to connect there aren’t any coworkers to connect with, there aren’t any managers stopping by your space to provide direction.

While you’re likely keeping your peers in the loop on work-related matters via online messaging platforms, such as Slack, you should also use it to recreate some of your not-so-work-related conversations.

Ask people how their days are going, how their weekends went, what things they’re looking forward to, etc. These kinds of conversations happen all the time in an office, but often get left behind while working from home. If you’re managing people remotely, these kinds of conversations remind your team that you’re looking out for them and can help prevent people from feeling like they’re just wheels on a conveyor belt.

“Our 6 Secrets for Work-from-Home Success,” Adam Benjamin, Reviews.com

Of course, you shouldn’t abuse the group chat, but staying in touch can really boost morale.

Employee engagement is easier said than done, and it’s hard enough to boost engagement rates in-person at the office.

The novelty of working from home, however, might actually help employees become more engaged.

Jim Harter, chief scientist at Gallup, stated in an article from Washington Post that the best predictor of employee engagement is,

When workers have a significant amount of time where they get absorbed in their work and time passes quickly. And when you work remotely, you certainly have more of a chance to get absorbed in your work.

“Want to work from home more often? New data from Gallup could help convince your boss,” Jena McGregor, Washington Post

Of course, all of these tips are considering you have a platform that encourages effective, real-time communication and engagement. Email and spreadsheets may not be as helpful during this transition in workplace policies.

What WFH tips do you have? How do you remain productive while working in your home office—whether it’s a secluded room or your kitchen?

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