3 Tips for Work from Home in 2021 & Beyond
Work From Home (WFH) is here to stay – even as COVID-19 cases worldwide begin to plateau and vaccines become more readily available, this shift in workplace culture is not likely to reverse itself. By 2025, 22% of the American workforce is expected to work remotely, underscoring the multifaceted motivations behind such a drastic change that run far deeper than last year’s global pandemic. Increased productivity, environmental consciousness, and improved mental health, among other reasons, have contributed to the rise in popularity of remote work. However, additional factors must be considered when seeking to preserve a vibrant, accountable workplace culture in spite of physical separation.
Why is Remote Work Challenging?
When working from home, corporate lines become blurred that were previously made clear, while transparency becomes less of a priority and company morale finds itself limited to prolonged Zoom calls. Combating these challenges tactfully and with effective leadership can seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Winning in the WFH era, or in any moment of change, demands a fresh approach that introduces simple habits aimed at building team spirit and stability in the face of inevitable transformation.
- Respecting Established Hours of Operation & Company Norms
As WFH gained footing, adhering to an expected schedule deteriorated for many organizations. Bosses no longer hesitated to call employees after hours or schedule video conferences late into the night, with the excuse being that employees were home already, so the difference was null. This attitude devalues any sense of organization or dedicated working hours, signaling to employees that time is relative, and anything can be done with it. By reinforcing established company norms that existed pre-WFH, team members will not only feel respected, but will have reason to place value on existing hours of operation as time dedicated for work and work alone.
- Daily Check-ins via A Chat Platform
When collaborating in an office setting, relying on a chat feature is convenient, but not terribly necessary. This completely changes when going virtual. Sending a concise message for quick communication is essential when working alongside a remote colleague. Text messaging can provide the instantaneous function of a chat platform but doesn’t meet the cut when simply wanting to check in on a team member’s status without sending a message. Using a chat platform with a snooze feature such as Slack provides enough transparency for both bosses and employees to know whether someone is available or taking a break, allowing for accountability without being invasive. Additionally, checking in every morning and evening, especially if employees have varying schedules, also allows for a better sense of when someone is in “office” or out, all while keeping track of employee working hours without having to micro-manage.
- Engaging in Difficult Conversations
Change naturally produces challenges, some of which can be prepared for, while others may provoke far more questions than answers. Working from home can quickly amplify pre-existing frustrations or unresolved problems that would only be exacerbated by physical distance and poor relationship building. Instead, actively engaging team members with varying personality types, whether they be averse to change or open to it, can instead ease tensions and calm fears. Having the hard conversations about industry shifts, such as a transition to more tech-reliant work methods, would not only prepare employees for unfamiliar working habits, but increase a sense of trust and teamwork when exploring new frontiers as a company. Approaching employees as individuals and re-orienting them as members of a single, unifying team, even in a virtual setting, greatly capitalizes on their unique talents for the benefit of the entire company while building resilience in the face of change.
2021 has introduced itself with an equal amount of defiance as 2020, solidifying unexpected change and upending previously unquestionable norms. Building a flexible yet efficient workplace culture that can swiftly tackle challenges brought on by WFH is essential to pivoting successfully in a fast-paced world. Digital transformation and a reliance on ever-evolving business practices will test the limits of any well-trained team, requiring firms to develop a pragmatic, strategic workplace ethos that can withstand any global crisis, medical or otherwise.