How to improve your work-from-home policy

Jul 21, 2016 7:30:00 AM


Working from home is a great option to have at your company. There are benefits for both parties. For employees, it’s greater flexibility, more autonomy, less distractions, and limited commutes. For employers, it’s a smaller real estate footprint, happier and more productive employees, and the ability to attract and retain new talent.

However, as the employer, you must put forth the effort to make remote working work. You can’t simply send your employees out into the universe and hope for the best. Setting clear guidelines and expectations and providing your teams with the right tools and resources will set them up for success.

Measure results, not hours

With remote work comes a new—and better—way of measuring employee productivity. Gone are the days of measuring productivity based on the number of hours employees sit at their desks. You've arrived at a turning point—measuring results. For this, you must set very clear guidelines and goals. Motivate individuals and teams by defining goals and expectations, and give them the autonomy and your trust to reach them.

How do you measure productivity? Check out our post on the topic here.

Set communication standards and guidelines

There are many ways to communicate on a distributed team—email, messaging apps, video chat platforms, cloud-based file sharing, project management tools, and more. Be sure to select the ones that work for your teams, and ensure everyone knows the ‘best practices’ in using each. Ensure everyone knows the expectations around availability and responding to messages. Are employees are required to be online at certain parts of the day? Or do they have complete flexibility?

Cultivate culture

This is one of the most challenging aspects of a remote team, but it’s not impossible. There are a few simple tricks that you can use to cultivate a company culture with remote employees.

Meet in person. If there are 2+ employees in a city, have them meet in-person once in awhile. Get them memberships to a local shared workspace or have them meet over a cup of coffee. Even if they don’t work on the same team, it’s always nice to meet up with a colleague for a beer every now and then.

Start calls 5 minutes early. Starting meetings on time is important – no one likes to waste time in meeting after meeting after meeting. But if you have the chance, invite anyone who is available to hop on calls a few minutes early. Spend that time talking about your weekend or upcoming vacation plans. This naturally occurs in office settings, but effort has to be made with a remote team.

Be transparent

Information spreads like wildfire in an office. You overhear things happening in the cube next door, you sit in on meetings you don’t actually need to attend, and you see meetings happen and immediately ask around for intel. This simply doesn’t happen with remote employees. Instead, sharing information has to be strategic. Send out a weekly update with input from every department. Use a Slack channel to share company updates.

Trello and Asana are great project management tools to keep your team in the loop. Learn which one may work for you here.

I love how Groove’s team shares a daily update—every teammate is required to post in Slack with what [s]he accomplished the day before and what [s]he is working on today. Not only does it give everyone insight into what individuals do on a day-to-day basis, but it opens the door for acknowledging accomplishments and seeing where potential issues may arise.

Be proactive

Management and employees have to be proactive. You’re not going to be able to walk by your employees to see if they are hiding under their desks, drinking wine straight from the bottle. Instead you need to set aside time to check in on your employees, both formally and not. Message them regularly to make sure they are doing OK. Check in on projects and looming deadlines. Ask them if they feel valued and productive.

Want more tips on working on a distributed team? Read cove’s productivity tips for distributed teams here.

At cove, we believe remote working is the future of work. There are companies already doing it and doing it well. If your company is in the DC area or you have employees in this region, reach out to us. We’ll show you how we can help you implement a work-from-home policy that makes everyone a winner.

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Erin Gifford

Written by Erin Gifford

Erin started with cove in January 2014 and has been enjoying the adventure ever since. Outside of her role as marketing director with cove, she loves the performing arts, memoirs, and UNC.