Some wins for distance working

As many start to work from home for the first time I have some suggestions from a successful experience with several Fortune 500 companies.

  1. Communication

This is key.  Regular online meetings for your projects is so important.  (Yes, even if you think it isn’t!)   Meeting online as a group for even 15 minutes can sometimes make one of your team members successful that you didn’t know was stumbling.

  • I highly recommend your meetings get MUCH more structured. If you are a fly by the seat of your pants company, you may need to rethink a bit.
  • Have ONE person in charge of the meeting agenda. Agenda items or topics should be sent to that person.  You can save time for emergency items if needed but don’t allow the meeting to be hijacked.
  • Agenda items should be available for all to see prior to the meeting. This will save time during the meeting.  If everyone understands what is to be discussed, they should come prepared.
  • Make it clear to everyone your preferred method of communication and then try to respect others’. Perhaps your needs will come first on occasion.  If it’s an emergency, your manager probably wants to know right away.  Otherwise, send an email if that’s what they want and wait in queue.
  1. Documentation
  • Consistent placement: this is a hard one. Many companies have multiple places they store documents.  (On a team member’s desktop, on the intranet, on the internet …)  Some companies have internal and external employees that can’t have access to content behind their security. Try to find the best solution for the team and avoid redundancies if possible.
  • USE the documentation! Try to take the time to search through your documents to find your answers instead of calling someone.  If they are where they are supposed to be you SHOULD be able to find them.
  • Create documentation: If you couldn’t find the answer create a document to help others.  If one person has the question, others probably will.
  1. Minimize disruptions

We’ve all seen the video of the kids coming into the online meeting.  It happens and you can’t stop it all.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Kids, and dogs and cats…oh my!  Yes, I have them all.  Yes, they will not leave you alone EVEN if you beg them.
    • Designate an office area and get a lock for the door.
    • Use the mute button liberally. Even if you don’t have kids and pets, your typing can get annoying for others.
    • Others in the household running streaming movies can cause you some traffic issues for your online meeting. You may have to restrict access during meetings.
  • Butt in the chair. If you haven’t worked from home, here is a bit of advice.  Go in your office and sit there.  Being with the kids and “working” will not get much done.  This doesn’t mean you can’t go throw in a load of laundry, (one great benefit from working at home) but take breaks from work only to do that.
  1. Track your work

Your manager can’t see you working.  Be sure to toot your horn more than before.  This is not JUST for your manager.  It will also help you to see that you are still being productive.  Daily take a few minutes to journal about what you got done and what still needs to be done.  Take a few minutes to schedule time for important items on your calendar.