As I write this article, the coronavirus pandemic is spreading around the world and many companies are starting to roll out the home office.
The problem is that, in many ways, a certain degree of ignorance prevails around the subject. Knowing the basics and good implementation practices will help you keep your company running successfully and, above all, so that your collaborators can get the most out of remote work.
What is the Home Office or Telework?
It is a type of job whereby a professional can carry out his work activities from his home or a different location to the company office.
This term is also used, in some countries, to refer to the work of independent professionals whose personal and business management is the same.
Today, we commonly refer to this activity as home office, remote work, or telecommuting.
It is possible thanks to modern technology, since many business activities can be carried out with access to a computer and a good internet connection.
This brings advantages for companies and their collaborators, which I will discuss below.
Advantages of remote work
There are two ways to approach it, from the collaborator perspective and from the company perspective, and although they are closely related, I want to share the two sides of the coin with you.
5 Benefits of the home office for the company
- Lower electric cost, services and even equipment: depending on the specific modality and the days in which remote work is applied, your company will reduce its energy expenditure by having fewer computer equipment, heating or cooling and services such as water on drinkable and purified.
- Greater job retention: teleworking offers numerous benefits to staff and this will be reflected in the time they want to stay in your company. Having less staff turnover always implies lower cost and stable growth. This is one of the ways in which SMEs can compete with large companies and balance the balance, since in salaries and other benefits, they may not be equated.
- Access to a greater range of professional resumes: By having home office vacancies, your company can access professionals with better resumes, more prepared and even lower cost than you could find in the geographical area where your business is located.
- Increased productivity: the benefits that remote work offers people influence the level of productivity that they can offer to the companies they work for. Imagine that your collaborators can save an hour or two of traffic, which will give them more personal time and a fuller life , studies show that these indicators improve productivity and work concentration by 10 to 15%.
- Each member of your team will have their space to work better: not all people react the same to the same stimuli, this implies that a serene atmosphere may not be as useful for some collaborators who require more stimulating environments to work. From home, they can arrange their environments to recreate what they feel they need most: serenity, calm, concentration, liveliness, among others.
5 Benefits of teleworking for workers
- They can stay close to older people and children who require their care : in situations where there are vulnerable people in the family and there is no one at home to take care of them, working from home represents a great opportunity, since it allows your collaborators to focus their Attention at work without fear that something will happen while you are gone. The peace of mind of having your loved ones safe is a great boost to productivity.
- More free time: Many people confuse this benefit and believe that they will work less time, which is far from reality. Having more time available is related to savings in meal times away from home and travel, which can range from an hour to two a day, even more in highly populated cities. This implies, more time to carry out more activities that your staff enjoy.
- A fuller and happier life: Having more free spaces during the day will allow your employees to spend more time on hobbies, distractions and personal interests. These factors are closely related to lower stress rates, healthier personal relationships and, of course, happier people. Additionally, the absence of policies related to office work can free them from distractions that, at a certain moment, can make them feel overwhelmed.
- More health: By having more free time, your employees will be able to carry out physical activities and eat healthier at home. Isn’t that one of the best advantages?
- Fewer expenses: By not having to commute to work, people can save what they would spend on transportation or gas. In addition to this, they can also reduce expenses related to eating out.
Lower environmental impact
I could not help it, I already had five benefits of each, but for me, this could not be missing because it benefits not only companies or collaborators, but the global community.
As there is less displacement and consumption outside the home, the environmental impact of remote work is less, since there are less emissions of gas and waste.
Seeing it this way, makes me think that all companies should implement it, at least a few days or with those collaborators who benefit the most from this modality.
5 Tips to implement the Home Office in your company
Depending on the sector and policies of your company, it is likely that you need to take some factors into account, I share five tips that can be applied in almost any sector.
Check that the personnel have the necessary technology
In order for your team of collaborators to work from home, it is necessary to have a reliable and stable internet and telephone system.
It is common that, in some sectors, “home office” is the same as an internet cafeteria, however, it does not guarantee an optimal level in the speed of navigation and much less in the concentration and focus that, in some areas, are necessary.
Talk to your team to make sure that everyone has the necessary elements to carry out their tasks successfully from home, if not, create a plan together that allows both parties to benefit from remote work.
On the other hand, it is important that they are prepared and there is an emerging plan in case the technology begins to fail.
If so, minimize your data transfer needs:
- In telecalls or conferences, participants can turn off their cameras if they are not strictly necessary, this will make a huge difference in audio quality.
- Disable microphones, those people who do not require speaking.
- Close browser windows that are not being used.
- Limit screen sharing as much as possible.
- Close group or individual conversation apps that are not necessary.
Use applications that make working remotely easier
These days, there are countless of them:
- Zoom for calls and video conferences
- Hangouts or Google Meetings
- Slack for individual or group messages
- Asana or Monday for shared project management
- GSuite that offers a wide variety of tools such as cloud space, individual and shared documents and spreadsheets, calendar, among many others.
- Loom or Vidyard to make short videos that facilitate explaining or sharing things that, in writing, could be much more complex.
Keep in mind that communication is the key to success
It is recommended that you create communication processes that facilitate the flow of information and allow everyone to feel comfortable with individual and group tasks.
In an office, if you have a question or comment you can go to the other person’s desk and discuss it, but in teleworking the same does not happen.
However, it is easily solvable: if you need to communicate something, you can send an email and if you need more speed in replying, a message in Slack or Skype. If it’s urgent, just pick up the phone and make a call, it would be the equivalent of going to someone’s office or desk.
It is essential that people feel part of the group and stay in touch. So, it generates processes that allow us to be in communication beyond fundamental and basic things.
Having a Slack channel or Skype group can make life easier for your collaborators. They could also use WhatsApp, but it could be a bit intrusive to use personal communication channels for work, so I do not recommend it.
It is important that communication allows to carry out work tasks efficiently but also to maintain a pleasant human environment. Your team should not feel that they are alone in front of a computer as if it were just another electronic device, because it is not.
There are things for which your collaborators will need to conduct online meetings, either for presentations or to explain things that, by other means, could hinder mutual understanding. Make sure you give them the tools they need to do it successfully.
Provide tips and recommendations to your collaborators
Vital part for remote work to work in your company, is to help all team members to easily integrate it into their spaces, offer them ideas that allow them to take advantage of this modality. Some of them can be:
People may or may not forget that someone is working at home, so it’s best to report it. Let your family know what hours you will be working and ask for their help so as not to interrupt your work.
You can also put a small sign on the door of your apartment or house requesting that they do not ring the bell because you are on business hours, taking work calls.
On the other hand, it will help you to have on hand everything you will need to work, including water and a snack in case you feel hungry so you don’t have to get up and interrupt your concentration.
Have a specific space to work
You need a place where you feel comfortable, equipped with everything you need for your office tasks and, preferably, only used for work.
This is not to have a “fashionable” or elegant space to carry out home office, but so that you can achieve a state of mind in which you feel efficient, focused and productive.
On the other hand, avoid working in your room or recreation area, because your mind could associate this space with work and prevent you from later sleeping or having fun in those areas.
Make sure the background looks professional
If your activity requires online meetings, arrange your space and computer in such a way that the background is free from distraction, the easiest thing is to be the wall.
This way, even if the entire room is a complete mess, when you talk to your colleagues and prospects, you will look professional.
Bathing and dressing for work
When working from home you are likely to be tempted to even stay in your pajamas. But, don’t do that! You will feel more efficient and professional if you dress as if you were in the office, that will allow you to create the right mental state.
The dress code still applies.
Set limits if children are home
It can be one of the most complex scenarios of teleworking, because if your children are there, you will want to dedicate attention and time to them. Also, they will make sure to interrupt you and remind you that they are still there.
You may feel guilty about “being” physically but not actually being present. So it is a good time to show your family a bit of your day to day and teach them how to get a good job.
Point out limits where they cannot enter your workspace or allow them to be while they play quietly. Start teaching them about discipline or just … ignore them 😛
Be sure to explain well how you need them to behave, the reasons why it is important for you to do so, and how working at home benefits your family.
Keep activities as if they were in the office
In reality things do not have to be different, however, it is still not so common to know how to do home office and it can end up causing wrong ideas.
Therefore, it is important that you help your collaborators stay professional from home.
- Keep the same business hours as the office. For remote work, consistency is a key factor, so it is important that your collaborators implement routines similar to those that exist when working in an office. Of course, “arriving” on time is one of them.
- Ask them to create a plan to manage their activities. Just as it is done in the office, your team will need to organize their time. Setting aside space for calls or online meetings, others for emails, another for simple specific tasks and others where it requires more concentration, will allow them to stay productive.
- Request to respect meal times and small spaces for rest. In this way, you will ensure that your collaborators maintain healthy work practices that allow them to stay healthy, focused and with controlled levels of stress.
Working remotely actually involves working as if you were in any office, as if nothing were different. Make sure that your entire team shares the same perspective and vision in this regard.
Is your company ready to implement the Home Office?
Not all companies can implement this type of work, at least not in all its areas. Imagine an office of architects and civil engineers. Sure they can telecommute but they definitely cannot build a house remotely.
There are sectors in which remote work is not an option yet, despite the technology that we have today, so value how far your collaborators can, or cannot, perform from home.
What do you think? Is there any other good practice that you can recommend us to do Home Office?
Did you like the content? Help us by rating