Top Experts on Work From Home
Expert opinions by seasoned entrepreneurs and founders.
Startup Insider asked the experts:
Remote work is here to stay: How to work-from-home and manage teams successfully?
The recent global pandemic has caused massive disruption in working practices. Prior to this, working mostly from offices was the norm.
The onset of the internet and enabling technologies, a few decades ago, has gradually led to a shift in thinking about how and where we work. This change accelerated when COVID 19 hit and tech became a transformational enabler. It is now hard to imagine a world without WIFI, augmented by 4G & 5G cellular services, Zoom and Stream Yard. Freelancers, professionals, and startups are flourishing with their use, and traditional businesses have experienced the value and difficulties of remote working.
Every new opportunity brings with it, challenges. Without greater levels of trust, empowerment and accountability, organizations will fail to leverage the immense benefits of remote working. In-person encounters are vital for a healthy corporate culture. Collaboration tools like Zoom, Google Meet facilitate human connection, but if not managed wisely, can lead to video fatigue and stress due to work overload. In addition, not everyone has a discrete space at home that allows for distraction free work.
To meet some of the challenges of remote working, consider the following suggestions:
Focus on results, productivity standards and clear deadlines: Avoid micromanaging. This will only be possible when you have competent and committed people, in given tasks, in your team.
Train. Those working from home need far more self-discipline, than traditional work environments need. Therefore, equip your team members in self-management skills.
Demonstrate empathy. Limit the frequency of meetings. Just because people can be reached at any time, doesn’t mean you violate their private/family time. Set norms for frequency and duration of virtual interactions and keep all communications, whether via email or WhatsApp, within agreed working hours.
Remote working is a convenience, but not a complete substitute for face-to-face interactions. Meet with your team members periodically, whether monthly or quarterly, to catch up and share in social and pleasurable activities.
Working from home can be a rewarding and flexible option, but it also requires discipline and effective strategies to stay productive. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your work-from-home experience:
Set clear boundaries: Communicate with your family members or roommates about your work hours and let them know when you need uninterrupted time. Establish boundaries to minimize distractions and interruptions during your designated working hours.
Dress for success: While you might be tempted to work in your pajamas, getting dressed as if you were going to the office can help shift your mindset into work mode. Dressing professionally can improve your focus and productivity.
Minimize distractions: Identify potential distractions in your home environment and take steps to minimize them. This could mean turning off television and notifications on your phone, using website blockers to limit time on social media, or using noise-cancelling headphones to create a quiet work environment.
Eliminate multitasking: While it may seem tempting to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, it can actually hinder your productivity. Focus on one task at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next. This allows you to maintain focus, deliver better results, and minimize errors.
Working from home and managing remote teams effectively require careful planning, strong communication, and the right tools and strategies. Here are 11 tips to help you work from home and manage remote teams successfully:
Establish clear expectations: Clearly define work hours, availability, and expected outcomes. Set specific goals and deadlines to keep everyone accountable. Ensure team members under-stand their roles and responsibilities.
Communicate regularly: Foster open and transparent communication. Schedule regular check-ins, team meetings, and one-on-one discussions to stay connected. Use video conferencing tools to enhance virtual interactions and build stronger relationships.
Leverage technology and tools: Utilize collaboration tools, project management software, and communication platforms to facilitate teamwork and streamline processes. Examples include Slack, Trello, Asana, Microsoft Teams, or Google Workspace.
Set up a dedicated workspace: Create a designated work area at home that is free from distractions. Ensure team members have the necessary equipment and resources to perform their tasks effectively.
Encourage work-life balance: Remote work can blur the boundaries between work and personal life. Promote work-life balance by encouraging breaks, setting realistic expectations, and supporting flexible schedules when feasible.
Trust and empower your team: Focus on outcomes rather than micromanaging. Trust your team members to deliver their work and provide support when needed. Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of their tasks.
Foster a sense of connection and culture: Create opportunities for virtual team building activities, such as virtual coffee breaks, team lunches, or online games. Encourage informal communication channels for social interactions.
Provide clear guidelines and resources: Ensure your team has access to clear guidelines, standard operating procedures, and resources to perform their work effectively. Document processes and make them easily accessible to all team members.
Encourage feedback and collaboration: Foster an environment where team members feel comfortable providing feedback and sharing ideas. Encourage collaboration and create opportunities for cross-functional interactions.
Prioritize well-being and support: Remote work can be isolating and challenging. Pay attention to your team's well-being and provide support when needed. Offer resources for mental health, promote work-life balance, and recognize accomplishments.
Continuously improve and adapt: Regularly assess what's working and what can be improved. Seek feedback from your team and make necessary adjustments to optimize remote work processes.
Remember, successful remote work and team management require adaptability, flexibility, and a commitment to continuous improvement. By implementing these strategies and staying connected with your team, you can effectively navigate the remote work landscape.
One of the major challenges of working from home is maintaining a proper work-life balance. With no clear separation between work and personal life, it can be difficult to establish boundaries. Solutions to this challenge include setting designated work hours, creating a dedicated workspace, and taking regular breaks to refresh the mind.
Communication and collaboration can also be more challenging in a remote work environment. Without face-to-face interactions, miscommunication and feelings of isolation can arise. Employing various communication tools, such as video conferencing and instant messaging platforms, can help bridge the gap and foster effective collaboration.
Maintaining mental and physical well-being can be tougher when working from home. The lack of physical activity and social interactions can lead to increased stress and decreased productivity. To address this, individuals should prioritize regular exercise, practice self-care, and seek opportunities for social interaction, whether through virtual gatherings or outdoor activities.
Dr. Abdul Wahab
In the past few years, the idea of remote work has gone from being a niche concept to becoming the norm. Although it was primarily considered a temporary measure, many corporations have realized that remote work is here to stay.
There are many merits to working remotely, however, it's not without its challenges. Here are some recommendations for working from home and managing teams successfully.
Set a routine
One of the challenges of working from home is the lack of structure. To combat this, it's important to set a routine. This will support you stay productive and focused.
Set up a dedicated workspace that's free from distractions. Keep your workspace organized and tidy, and make sure you have everything you need to do your job efficiently.
Establish clear goals
When managing remote teams, it's vital to set clear goals with deadlines. Make sure your team knows their objectives, and how their work will be measured.
Communication is key when working remotely. To stay connected use video conferencing tools to hold meetings. Use email, chat apps, or project management tools to keep everyone on the same page.
Maintain a work-life balance
Establish clear boundaries between work and home, and make sure you're taking time for yourself. Schedule breaks throughout the day, and make sure you're logging off at the end of the day.
In conclusion, With the right mindset and tools, remote work can be just as productive and rewarding as working in an office.
Fortunately like many things in life Remote Working isn’t one size fits all either. My personal experience is a mix bag, so we have to be extremely judicious in our approach as to what’s most relevant to your work environment.
No doubt Remote Working is here to stay but then it’s not only due to COVID or post COVID that we keep trying to find the best work regime but many organizations especially within Europe tried experimenting most efficient work output models. And the reasons for those were less pollution in the air, and most effective way to optimize energy and other resources.
Even outsourcing to offshore and freelancing is mostly WFH and that model has been practiced for decades. Thanks to work outsourced to Indian shores during 90’s. Precision tech tools were custom developed initially, and now many industry-recognized ones such as Slack to measure efficiency and syncing of shared work are available on pay as you go. For virtual meetings; Teams, Zoom and other tools are available.
The biggest challenge for getting optimum output with WFH is the absence of competitiveness and the spirit of collaboration. Human beings have been so used to waking up at the right time, getting ready to go out to work and thinking while commuting, and finally working with real team spirit at the place of work.
Human beings are social animals, you can’t replace the feeling of getting up in the morning with a purpose in mind and then returning at the end of day with sense of achievement.
On the other hand relationships within couples ended up in all kinds of psychological problems of constantly seeing your partner around you 24/7 with no sense of break from the normal.
My take is break down teams in various groups and constantly shuffle them with one group on at WFO one week, and the other WFH, and keep repeating the opposite only if you must send people to WFH.