With the current Coronavirus outbreak, there are more and more businesses instructing staff to work from home. For example, both Google and Twitter have told staff to not come into the office. But how can business leaders still ensure their workers are working effectively?
Working from home is often a recurring conundrum around our TAB board tables. The question being whether to allow staff to work from home, and if so, how to ensure we do it right. As business leaders, our members feel a duty and a desire to demonstrate flexibility, and everyone tends to want the best for their employees. By the same token though, we also want the best for our businesses, so finding that balance can be a little tricky.
Zapier, an automation app, whose the majority of their employees work remotely, published a report asking: ‘will the office be obsolete by 2030?’ Here’s a summary of a few key points:
- 42% of workers say they’re most productive when working at home
- Nearly 3 in 5 workers say they that working from home is one of the benefits they’d prefer to be offered by an employer.
- 44% of workers say they’d like to work from home so they can spend more time with their family
- Two-thirds of works believe the office will disappear by 2030
Despite these statistics implying that working from home will increase staff retention, it still polarises opinion. Some people think it’s brilliant but an equal number think it’s a disaster. But if the outbreak means your employees have to work from home, here are our five ways you can ensure they are still working effectively.
1. Have a designated working from home space
Tell your employees to try and find a designated working space: the kitchen table isn’t the answer. It’s hard to believe anyone could work successfully from a kitchen table. They are just too many distractions. Ideally, encourage your staff to convert a spare room into a specific ‘home office’. Admittedly, this might be difficult given the current circumstances but it can still be encouraged.
2. Be flexible with home working hours
One of the great plusses of working from home in general is that it really allows your staff to work when they work best. So be flexible about it. As long as they do their hours and attend required meetings, allow them to when suits them and they’re likely to be more productive.
3. Make sure at home technology is good enough
Ask your staff if their technology is up to speed. If the office computers and broadband zip around the internet at the speed of light, but their at home equipment is painfully slow – work will suffer. And if you’re investing in new laptops, don’t forget the built-in webcam, for those all-important Skype calls. If they don’t have the equipment, maybe consider investing in some webcams and sending them over by post.
4. Make use of technology for increased productivity
It’s worth making use of technology. There are so many options out there to increase team collaborations even when you’re not all in the same office. Think about software such as Google Docs and Dropbox. Here’s an article on suggested collaboration tools for productive teams.
5. Trust yourself and your employees
Even without a reason like the Coronavirus, allowing your staff to work from home does come with a certain level of trust. Similarly, if you work from home, you’ve got to trust yourself. There should be no 40-minute breaks to watch your favourite Netflix show or to read a section of your current crime novel. So maybe keep an eye on employees’ deadlines and workload just to make sure they’re still being productive.
Try and keep these ideas in mind during this challenging time for business. Why not read more about Coronavirus and the Impact on Our Businesses?
Are you looking for some extra guidance for your business? TAB cares about business owners – find out more about TAB’s business support and advice.