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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #66

Working "Remote" Doesn't Have to Mean "Far Apart" ...

Over this past week, I've had a number of people reach out and ask for tips on how to best manage a workforce that's been temporarily directed to work from home. While the concept of telecommuting and digital nomadism is certainly not new, for many workers this will be a brand-new experience that necessitates—albeit temporary—changes in how they approach their work.

Initially, this work-from-home directive may result in employees thinking "Cool, I get to work in my pajamas all day." While this viewpoint is both predictable and understandable, what needs to be conveyed is that these pajamas are—at a minimum—'business casual' and that productive work is still expected (and possible) during this interim arrangement.

As a general rule, I've found that effective managers have always tailored coaching to the individual employee. However, doing this for remote workers will require greater intentionality ... and a shift in our own mindsets about elements such as trust, communications, collaboration, feedback, and performance expectations.

To help facilitate this mind shift—and create a foundation for the HVAs listed below—let's first look at some relevant etymology. The word remote comes from the Latin word remotus which (loosely) means "far apart." But while many miles may separate a home-based worker from your center of operations, this physical distancing shouldn't equate to engagement distancing. A few proactive steps can make all the difference ...

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

The HVAs listed below include proven methods to acclimate individual employees to a temporary work-from-home arrangement that is both productive and engaging:

  • Determine What Work Can Be Done Remotely: While some work requires in-person contact with customers or the public, or access to materials that can't be removed from the worksite, many types of work can be performed remotely on a temporary basis—with a little bit of creativity (and technology)—and not adversely affect performance. Work aspects that should be considered include whether job tasks are easily quantifiable or primarily project oriented (with a focus on outcomes/results not activities); whether technology, high-speed Internet, and other equipment needed to perform the job remotely are available (and practical); and whether safety and security of data, information, and equipment can be assured (and not cost prohibitive).
  • Individualized Attention: A one-size-fits-all work-from-home deployment plan will be inadequate to cover the complex needs and unique home environments that may exist. Ask each team member to describe the conditions under which they perform best (while looking for nuggets that may help when they are working remotely). Solicit any concerns they may have about their workflow and offer support for those areas where they anticipate challenges. It's also critical to discuss a favorable workspace within this temporary home office (a workspace free from distractions).
  • Establish the "Daily Routine": Many employees who are new to working remotely struggle to get going because of the change in routine. Encourage your employees to simulate—as close as possible—their normal routine to keep them on track. If that means a 'specialty coffee' in the morning, suggest that could be done in their own kitchen; if that means hair, makeup, and business attire, encourage them to do so. Also, and it's surprising how frequently this gets missed, encourage small breaks throughout the day as well as a block of time for lunch away from the computer screen.
  • Communicate ... A Lot ... (and continue the social chit-chat): One of the more challenging aspects of working from home—especially if someone is used to an office environment—is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can occur. While email and text messages might satisfy the need in a normal office environment, use additional technology to provide your temporary remote workers with one-on-one and full-team face-to-face video conferencing to keep the human connection. At minimum, establish a Daily Check-In with a simple agenda—to provide the feedback and resources your team members need to accomplish their work.
  • Embrace the Need: Occasionally, I run into managers who are not willing to embrace a remote workforce because there's a lack of trust and an uncertainty about whether or not the work will get completed at the same level as if they were in the office. Set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating the objectives and expectations you have during this temporary time period, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success (by focusing in on their outcomes/results and not their activities).

If you follow these proactive steps, your people can enjoy working in their 'business casual' pajamas while still being productive and engaged ... and part of the team!

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill, and the traditional office culture doesn't give us any reason to do that."

— Alex Turnbull —