This guide will help you and your employees work remotely, outlining recommended policies, communication tools, and best practices for getting the most out of working from home.
Telecommuting is a viable, flexible work option when both the employee and their responsibilities are suited to such an arrangement.
At a high-level, some suggested policies include:
- Employees must be available by phone and email during core hours that are defined by the employee handbook
- Employees must be available for all internal or client meetings, and other meetings deemed necessary by management
- The amount of time an employee is expected to work per day or pay period does not change from the initially agreed-upon terms
Consistent with the information security expectations for employees in the office, employees working from home should be expected to ensure the protection of proprietary company and customer information accessible from their home office.
- Regular password maintenance
- Locking computers when not in immediate use
- Avoid public WiFi
Employees must have the necessary technology and hardware in place to be able to work from home effectively.
- Messaging tool(s)
- Phone system, preferably with web-based softphones
- Video conferencing tool with screen sharing
- High-speed internet access or mobile hotspot
Utilizing a multitude of communication channels is critical for employees to be productive when working remotely. It’s also important to make sure all communication channels serve the right purposes.
Here’s an overview of when to use each channel:
- Relationship building
- Discuss important topics
- Need a quick answer
- Social connecting with peers
- Need help and seeking guidance
- Team meetings
- Client meetings
- Workshops and training
- Team talks or standups
- Sharing content
- Showcasing work
- Collaborating on a project
- Updates for large groups
- Formal communication for an internal or external audience
When it comes to working from home, there are technical, environmental, and behavioral best practices to consider.
- Whenever possible, use a wired connection: Since WiFi can sometimes have issues with range, interference, etc., you should use a wired connection whenever possible. If you must use WiFi, make sure you have appropriate coverage and use Audio Test Service to validate connectivity.
- If your bandwidth is limited, consider device control: If you begin to have issues with sufficient bandwidth to complete your daily tasks, you should reduce the number of bandwidth-hogging devices connected to the network. With schools closing for child safety, be sure to consider all the devices that may be active in your household. Consider that the use of streaming services, screen share, or video calling all take a significant amount of bandwidth.
- Make sure you have the right hardware to keep voice quality up: Avoid echo, background noise, or screeching sounds during calls by using noise-canceling headsets. When possible, use DECT or wired headsets over Bluetooth. If you use a Bluetooth headset, be mindful of ranges. A standard Bluetooth headset can handle 5-15ft versus DECT which can allow 50ft to 200ft. If you prefer to use an IP phone over your softphone, you’ll need a POE switch or power supply.
- Confirm you have the necessary software applications: For nVX users, you simply need to make sure you have Google Chrome available. If you are using applications like WebEx, Zoom, Skype for Business, or Teams, you’ll need to make sure your PC, Mac, or mobile devices are capable of supporting the plugin and that all necessary software updates have been downloaded. Also, be sure when using these applications that you close unnecessary tools to keep system resources optimized.
- Be mindful of your screen resolution: Having a large, high-resolution monitor is great but if you are presenting your screen to others in a web conference, it will result in poor experience due to higher bandwidth utilization.
- Have a dedicated, distraction-free workspace if possible: Not everyone has a home office but it is important to find a space that you can dedicate to work hours.
- Plan for your surroundings: Plan for who else will be home while you are home whether that be spouse, roommates, or children, and consider how that might impact your ability to focus, deal with background noise, etc.
- Make yourself accessible to others on your team: Work from home requires employees to be focused yet easily be available to other co-workers. Learn to manage multiple communication channels including voice, message, and text.
- Be aware of other interruptions you may experience: Other normal interruptions to be aware of can include noise from garbage trucks, lawnmowers, and trimmers, deliveries, pets, and doorbells ringing. This is part of life however planning your workspace with these in mind will help limit noise pollution.
- Be considerate of your mental health: Working from home or “self-quarantine” can sometimes have a psychological impact. It’s important to stay connected with others and check in with teammates you would normally socialize with throughout your day.
- Find a way to separate your work from your home: When it comes to working from home, the lines can blur between personal time and work hours. It’s important to find a way to separate the two. For those with families, come up with a creative way to disconnect from your computer and engage in family time via dinner, games, or group activities.
- Develop a daily schedule and stick to it: Experiment ways on what makes you productive – is it early in the morning, working under deadlines, etc.
- Be mindful of your calendar: Make sure you’re prepared to be isolated for meetings and that any other home responsibilities such as children or pets are cared for
- Communication with your team weekly, if not daily: Define your teams’ responsibilities and make sure to stay engaged with those working closest with you; also make sure to engage socially, staying connected with your colleagues
- Read & respond to communications daily: Its important to ensure that communications via chat and email are responded to in a timely manner. Set aside time each day to manage your inboxes
- Ask for help if you need it: Sometimes, not having someone to physically turn to keeps us from reaching out when in need of help. Make sure to use the many communication channels available to you to ask questions and keep progress moving forward
- Practice good meeting etiquette: Remain on mute if you have background noise, don’t hog the microphone, take turns to speak, be polite, keep an eye on chat for team members raising points to discuss
- Make health a priority: Be sure to take breaks, and make time for physical exercise, yoga, walks, mediation, etc.
Last but not least, it’s important to consider the social aspects that we lose when we’re not collocated with our teammates. Be empathetic and consider that for many, this is a significant change in life and work. Recognize and acknowledge that change and be patient as everyone adjusts to the new ‘normal.’ Understand that many will be in challenging situations, including children to care for, limited quiet or privacy, or maybe in conditions of total social isolation.
- Stay connected: Make a point to connect personally and inquire about others’ well-being. Connectedness is critical.
- Keep your culture: Make sure to stand true to the values that make up your corporate culture. That’s different for each organization, so do what works for you. Consider team-wide happy hours over a video conference, or potentially a ‘lunch on us’ day where the company picks up the tab and teammates eat lunch together virtually.
- Embrace flexibility: Teams spread across global time zones must work harder to remain connected and will often need to work early or late in the day to connect with colleagues. Take this into account and try to build working groups who are time zone aligned where possible.
For more information on working from home and what tools can support your team, visit www.tetravx.com/work-from-home/