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To reduce the spread of COVID-19, and ensure that clients’ needs are met, many companies now have employees working remotely from home.

For some businesses, remote work is part of their business continuity plan, and they have practiced a few drills to ensure the technology would work properly. For others, this is a brand-new proposition and they are learning as they go.

In either case, here we are with a large percentage of the U.S. workforce doing their jobs from home and it isn’t a drill, nor is it a matter of simply relocating workers and going back to business as usual.

As more employers consider remote work as a permanent businesses practice, we need to provide guidance to remote workers so they can navigate this world successfully. These are our top five reality checks and tips for working remotely.


No. 1:  It’s OK to Have the Feels

Remote work can feel lonely and isolating on the best of days, and let’s not kid ourselves, these are still not the best of days. As we deal with the ongoing challenges of social distancing and remote working, employees might start to feel anxious or depressed. These feelings are normal, and we will all function better if we acknowledge it and create a supportive environment to talk about it.

If you have an employee assistance program (EAP), encourage workers to make use of the over-the-phone counseling sessions. If your health plan includes tele-health options for behavioral health, encourage workers to talk to mental health providers.

No. 2. Everybody’s Gotta Put on Pants

It’s so tempting to catch a few more zzz’s and skip the shower for that 8 a.m. meeting, but nothing will kill productivity faster (and add to feelings of depression) than abandoning a workday routine, including hygiene habits. Encourage employees to maintain their morning routines—get up, eat breakfast, walk the dog, shower, get dressed for their day and go to “work.”

Help employees set up their workspace in a designated area in their home that will serve as the “office” so they can mentally separate working space from living space. This makes it easier to stay focused throughout the day and helps employees unplug and go “home” when the workday is over. You can further encourage routines by maintaining regular business office hours, including scheduled breaks and lunch periods.

No. 3: There is No Such Thing as Over-communicating

Communication will be the key to survival as your team works remotely. If you thought work silos were a problem in the office, just imagine when your team is dispersed all over. You might start a quick chat with another person and think you have ironed out an issue, only to discover that two other teammates were just doing the same thing.

As a team, you will want to establish agreed upon communication rules—When do we write emails vs. when do we send chat messages? Who needs to be included in the conversation and who is an FYI? Does a conversation need to be a video call or will a voice call work? How will workers let other team members know when they are working on a project and can’t respond to questions immediately? What is the expected time frame for responding to messages?

It might feel like over-communicating while you are establishing your rules, but it is always better than making assumptions.

RiskMAP RESULTS: An HR Success Story

No. 4: Prioritizing and Planning Will Help Ease Stress

People often think that working from home means they will have the ability to focus on just one task at a time until it’s complete. “It will be so lovely with no interruptions or distractions…” but the reality is that home is full of distractions, especially if workers have kids or pets.

Employees will need to prioritize work (even more faithfully than they do in the office), or their to-do lists might become a swirling, stressed out mass where everything is important, so nothing gets done. You can help encourage prioritizing tasks as you assign them: “I need this Task 5 for an 8 a.m. meeting, so please do this first before you finish Task 4.”

You might consider starting the day with quick one-on-one chats to review the day’s to-do list or provide employees with a routine for ending the day that allows them to get a leg up on tomorrow. The goal isn’t to micromanage, but rather give employees tools so they can learn to be more effective self-monitors during the workday.

No. 5: Managers Needs New Lessons in Leadership

Workers will be looking to managers for steady leadership now more than ever, and managing remote workers includes a few different challenges. Support your supervisors and managers by providing guidance as they, too, transition into uncharted waters.

Cheer them on and let them know they’ve got this. The same skills that make them great leaders in person will work remotely—they will just need some tweaking.

Need Help Developing HR Best Practices?

Life and work are changing at lightning speeds these days and business ideas that once seemed novel or cutting edge are becoming standard operating procedures in need of best practices. 

Our Checklist for HR Best Practices can help! We’ve outlined the most important elements of a solid HR strategy to help you stay organized and not miss a step. Download your copy today!

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.