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Homeworking through the pandemic

We have been a remote working organisation for over a decade. Here we share tips, advice and experience

We imagine that under such extreme circumstances your business is looking to keep calm, carry on and keep your head above water. Rest assured you’re not alone, we’re all in this together.

At Capability Jane, we’re highly experienced when it comes to remote working. For 13 years, the team has largely been home or co-working-space based, so we thought this would be an opportune time to look at what the experience has taught us and how we’ve made it work.

We could talk you through all the free tech and comms platforms that are available, such as Skype, Zoom, Webex or Slack, but there are many resources out there explaining that already.

In reality, what’s important for your business is making sure remote working actually works well for your business, and why we’re sharing our tips and advice from what we’ve learnt.

Manage the immediate ‘reply’ pressure

The great thing about platforms such as Skype and Slack is that you can message whenever you want, but this is also a drawback as instant messaging can also imply instant response. Before you know it, a colleague or a whole team has spent the whole day reacting, responding and not getting anything actually done.

It’s so easy to ping messages freely and easily, which does make it feel like your team is communicating on a regular basis but is does create information ‘silos’ and undue pressure, so our first tip is to manage mindsets and recommend standard approaches.

Ensuring managers arrange daily or weekly calls to allocate tasks or actions more clearly will be essential. Although messaging is still crucial, scheduled calls will reduce response time pressure and will help teams focus more clearly.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t get an immediate response, it doesn’t mean that person has their feet-up watching a box-set, it may mean they’re focused on a particular task, as they would be in the office.

Which leads us to the next point…

Trust, trust, trust

…We know that this period of time could be make or break for your business and that you’re under pressure, but your employees will know this and will want to give you their best. We’re all in the same boat and we all want the best outcomes.

This is when trust has to kick in. In simplistic terms, if an employee is not delivering it will soon become very clear. Instead, what you will find is your team will be more productive, but it will be on their terms, and, again, you will have to trust this.

If a team member needs or chooses to work in the evening or earlier in the morning, and are just as effective, if not more so, then let them do this. Homeworking style is unique to each person, and if it’s getting you great results, then let them crack on!

Ramp-up team meetings

Every Monday morning at 9.30am, we all login to GoToMeeting and have a team catch-up. It’s a great start to the week and makes us all feel more part of the company, as well as the Capability Jane community.

We start with a bit of informal chat and then move on to our respective updates and leave the call energised and upbeat. It’s a really valuable time for us as we don’t have the usual Monday morning ‘water cooler’ chat that we would if were in an office.

As your business is not currently office-based, it’s important to remember that it’s these little actions that keep teams connected, engaged and motivated.

Do check-in on employees. Homeworking is not as easy as it sounds

We can guarantee that the first week or two of homeworking will be an exciting and liberating time for your employees, but take note, home working is not for everybody and it’s really important to bear this in mind throughout the Covid isolation and lockdown period.

Home working can be lonely and can impact mental health, which will be particularly heightened at this time – for everybody – as the ability to work in a café or meet with colleagues based locally has been restricted.

As an employer, it will be important to hold one-to-one check-in calls with employees to catch up and check on their well-being. We’re all vulnerable at the moment, so showing you’ve got your employee’s back is vital.

It also helps to make it clear that you don’t expect your team to be available 24×7. Your employees still need to take breaks and these will be different from in the office; for example, putting a wash on, walking the dog, or simply go for a stroll. Create a remote working culture that enables this to happen. We can’t be at maximum productivity for a full working day and this is also the case at home; people do need to be made aware of this point.

We’ve lived by these rules for many years and to great effect. As one of the most established flexible recruitment specialists, we’ve learnt how to get the best out of our remote working team through learnings and experience.

We hope these prove just as invaluable to you as they have been for us.

Good luck, keep well and remember that we’re all in this together.