When the Covid-19 pandemic took over the world in 2020 remote work skyrocketed. Gallup reports it took only three weeks for the percentage of people working remotely in the US to double — from 31% to 62%. In this post we’ll go over 7 top strategies to help employees adapt to working from home.
Today, working from home remains a rising trend in the business world — a Statista report shows 86% of employees believe remote work is the “future of work”. Moreover, a Gartner survey shows 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part-time.
This shift to remote work has merit. After all, such a work arrangement is often associated with better productivity. Namely, research shows people working remotely are 47% more productive.
However, working from home may also pose a challenge for employees who are just now adapting to the concept. They may have trouble striking a proper work-life balance, now that their offices are at their homes.
They may feel lonely without colleagues with whom they can chat with in person and go on lunch breaks. They may have difficulties communicating and collaborating with teammates remotely.
To help companies ease the transition and make the most of a working from home arrangement, here are 7 top strategies that will help employees adapt to working from home.
Provide the right equipment
First things first — to work remotely, people will need the right equipment. They will not only need the right hardware but the additional equipment — just like they did while they were working from the office.
But, they will also need some digital solutions they may never have used before.
Provide the hardware
The right hardware will definitely simplify the task of working from home.
When moving to a working from home arrangement, employers should allow their employees to take the hardware they are familiar with and used while working in the office.
This will include computers, laptops, monitors, keyboards, cell phones, printers, fax machines, and any other hardware they may need.
Provide the additional equipment
Once you’ve covered the hardware, it’s time you consider the additional equipment people normally have in the office to get their jobs done.
For example, chances are most people won’t have high-tech ergonomic chairs and proper office desks working from home.
And, you’ll want employees to be as comfortable working from home as they did in the office. So, if possible, and if they want to, employees should be allowed to order the proper equipment such as chairs, filing systems, or even a stand up desk to make working at home as comfortable as possible.
After all, people who don’t need to worry about comfort will have more mental energy to focus on work tasks.
Provide the software
Once you’ve covered the hardware and additional equipment, it’s time you cover the necessary software.
As expected, digital tools are useful for office-based workers. But, for people working from home, they are indispensable.
They enable remote teammates to collaborate with the same quality as if they were sitting desk to desk.
So, it’s important you incorporate the right digital tools into your team’s everyday workflows.
Now, these exact tools may depend on your industry, the size of your team, and the work routines you follow. But, the one tool you’ll definitely need while working remotely is a tool that enables virtual communication.
A substantial percentage of people working remotely already use such tools.
Namely, a study by the Pew Research Center shows 57% of adults who work from home at least part-time use instant messaging platforms to communicate with teammates.
So, to make the most of the concept of virtual communication, you’ll just need to find the right communication platforms.
For example, Pumble is a team communication app you can consider, as it fulfills the needs of remote communication and collaboration. You’ll get to message your teammates instantly, and enjoy synchronous and asynchronous communication via individual/group direct messages and topic-based private/public channels.
Introduce frequent check-ins
People who’ve just started working from home may be spared from their strenuous daily commutes. But, other aspects of work-from-home arrangements may seem less appealing.
For one, remote workers will no longer have in-person meetings on a daily basis. For some this is a huge time saver!
They will no longer be able to just walk up to a teammate’s desk to ask questions when they need urgent answers. I for one am extremely relieved about that. I remember not being able to get the work I needed to get done with the frequent interruptions from others.
However with some, this can lead people to feel disconnected from their companies.
In fact, one survey shows 54% of workers feel disconnected when working remotely. And, disconnected workers are less likely to feel motivated to perform their best work.
To help remote teammates feel connected, it’s crucial companies introduce a virtual check-in system. This system can include various levels: managers, members of the HR team, and peers.
Managers will need to organize check-ins with the teams they manage. These check-ins can be on a weekly basis and focus on the current progress of work.
Members of the HR team will need to organize wellness check-ins with groups and individuals. These check-ins can be on a bi-weekly basis. They can focus on the discussions around:
- teammates’ struggles while working from home;
- their daily life;
- overall well-being.
Peers can organize a buddy system, where remote teammates check in with their pairs. These check-ins should be fairly regular — at least once per day would be optimal. The remote buddy system should provide people with someone they can talk with about:
- their daily progress;
- their challenges;
- whatever else they need.
As a result of a well-adjusted check-in system, people will come to realize they are still a valuable part of a team.
Organize virtual events
Coffee/tea breaks, team lunches, and office game tournaments are a great way to help teammates adapting to working from home while also allowing them to socialize in a casual setting. This practice doesn’t need to stop when your team goes remote — it can just move to the virtual world.
Luckily, the types of virtual events you can organize are plenty.
For example, you can make it a habit to have virtual coffee/tea breaks every week. Just, have everyone schedule 15-30 minute “coffee/tea break” calls on a particular day of the week. These meetings should have no agenda — instead, you can talk about:
- the TV shows you’re watching;
- the books you’re reading
- the hobbies you’ve taken on;
- the trips you’re planning;
- anything else you want.
As another example, instead of a classic team lunch, you can organize a home-cooked lunch contest.
Simply, choose a day to host the contest, and pick the theme.
When the day arrives, people should make their meals at home and take pictures to post on a #food channel in your team chat app.
Now, teammates won’t be in the position to try the meals. But, you all can vote on the most mouth-watering photos and swap recipes.
You can also use apps to organize virtual pub quizzes, contests, game tournaments, and even karaoke parties.
Depending on the size of your company, the HR team can organize these virtual events for all employees, or arrange people in smaller teams.
Remember — socializing events only gain importance when teams start working remotely. They help individuals feel a part of a community, even when their chances of interacting with teammates in person are scarce.
Adapting to working from home can be a challenge for any employee. But, there are strategies companies can implement to help employees adapt to their new work arrangements.
As a reminder companies will need to provide the right hardware, software, and additional equipment. They will also need to organize frequent check-ins with their virtual teams.
Last, but not least, they will need to organize virtual events, to make remote individuals feel part of a community. As a result, you’ll be able to facilitate the transition to remote work and enjoy better productivity.
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About the author:
Marija Kojic is a researcher and writer specialized in team communication and collaboration. She enjoys helping people discover meaningful and effective ways to communicate and collaborate smarter.