Our lives have been upended in all aspects, from work to home to travel to staying connected with others. This month we will endeavor to assist you in finding some balance and structure as we continue our remote work.
Frankly, it is amazing and impressive how quickly so many across the nation and the world transitioned from working in the office to working from home (WFH). We really had no choice, but it still wasn’t easy. It wasn’t and often isn’t. We all faced obstacles, some unique and some universal. Many of us have found comfort in the very true fact that we weren’t alone in this.
Most of us have received and read articles on the transition to WFH, the ups and downs, pros and cons, and finding a good work-life balance. One piece that did the most to “inspire” this post was written by Charlie Warzel at The New York Times titled You Are Not Working From Home.
Charlie’s article talks about his transition to WFH and how it affected his own personal life and work-life balance. It took him some time to work through it and for now, it works for him.
Other articles highlight the amazing flexibility that WFH can give employees and well as those articles that talk about the exact opposite, how it blurs the lines of work and home and any hope of balance. Many discuss options and suggestions for making it work from the employer’s perspective and some from the employee’s point of view.
First, here is some straight forward advice for the employee, gathered from multiple individuals who virtually give the same advice (beyond the basics of having the right equipment):
- Create a designated work area.
- Never work in your bed and if possible, never in your bedroom. (separation of work/life).
- Dress for work in “work” clothes. (mindset trick).
- Plan your day, calendar in breaks (set goals and stick to the schedule).
- Develop work hours and stick to them (does not necessarily need to be 8-5).
- Set clear expectations regarding your work hours and needs with roommates or family members.
- Meet coworkers/colleagues for lunch (even virtually).
- Don’t be afraid to change locations to spark creativity (if at all possible).
- Develop and cultivate a network of other colleagues who WFH. Meet weekly.
- Work hard to keep separation of work and play. Change into your comfy clothes, turn off your laptop and unplug each day.
Here is some advice for the employer who may continue to allow and perhaps even encourage employees to WFH:
- Provide the right equipment for the employee to be successful.
- Develop workable realistic WFH policies (for example this sample policy).
- First and foremost, set clear expectations with guidance on what is expected (give examples).
- Communicate often and provide support and encouragement (schedule time).
- Monitor progress with built in target dates.
- Micromanagement and trust don’t go together. Make sure you trust your employees to meet their goals and targets and hold them accountable.
- Employee engagement is more important than ever.
- If you have nonexempt employees WFH, ensure that you pay attention to the FLSA and your state wage and hour laws.
- Make certain your nonexempt staff record all hours worked (see number 8).
- Don’t forget about employee safety, ergonomics and OSHA.
- Work hard to not infringe on your employee’s nonwork time. Respect the “regular” workday.
- Incorporate fun and connection with your remote workers with other remote workers.
- Build in flexibility with your expectations…life happens and so do pandemics.
If you have questions on this or any other HR related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact HR Services for assistance. Call or email us at (800) 358-2163 and HRServices@501c.com.