Ian Cowley, Managing Director from Cartridge Save, shares his tips on how to motivate yourself and your workforce when working from home
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to create a schedule so you know exactly what time you’re starting work and what tasks need to be completed. I think it’s really important to be disciplined and have an idea of what you need to do and when you need to do it by. A schedule also helps the people around you understand when it’s ‘work time’, so they won’t distract you with the little household chore requests. I also make sure I get the little nagging jobs, like emptying the dishwasher, done before I start, so I don’t use them as a distraction.
Also, I also recommend setting clear expectations based on ‘what would I have done in the office?’. I think a lot of people will find they’re more productive when they work from home, because the office is filled with interruptions. What people often find is that something that would normally take them two days, will take them two hours at home, because they are given the space to focus.
Making sure you can work as efficiently and as effectively as possible when working from home
Set up file sharing tools: We use things like Dropbox and Office 365. The latter is brilliant for helping Accounts share large spreadsheets.
Use collaboration tools: Google Docs is great for helping your team work together in real time. Edits can be made on live documents, saving you from continually making draft copies, which could lead to error or something important being missed.
Introduce video chat to help reduce isolation: For a few years, my business partner and I worked remotely from one another but often had Google Hangouts running in the background. It meant we could chat as we worked on a project together. So it was like being in the same office space. Facetime and Whatsapp are equally as good if you only have a phone. They just lack the screen sharing options of Google Hangouts, which is really important.
Invest in good quality office consumables: If you’re using a laptop, invest in a good quality keyboard and mouse as they will help maintain a good posture and prevent repetitive stress injuries. When we renovated our home I installed a standing desk, so I feel like I’m ready to go!
Buy a printer: A printer is an essential part of any office set up, whether you’re at HQ or working remotely. I’d recommend a multifunctional printer with a scanner and a small footprint so it doesn’t take up too much space. You can get a great model for around £60 that won’t cost a fortune to run and that has Wi-Fi connectivity. Not all printers do and it’s unlikely you’ll want to plug your in your printer right next to your router.
How to keep your business operational with employees working from home
Keep communication going: In reality, over the next few weeks or months you’ll be doing everything you already do, just remotely. So continue to ensure team leaders talk to staff every day. Make sure weekly meetings happen. Successful remote working is all about having good habits and tools in place. If you don’t have them, now’s the time to get them sorted.
It’s important to set expectations: People still want to do the work. They just need to know what’s expected of them and the core hours they are expected to work. That said, don’t lay it on too thick. Be considerate. Good team members will always try to do their best and they’ll feel guilty if you place too many demands when they’re also juggling with childcare or sick partners. Also, bear in mind that no-one does a full eight hours when they work in the office. They’re constantly distracted. So, instead of setting expectations based on hours in front of a screen, set expectations based on the quality of their outputs.
Work on trust: Just because you can’t see staff working, it doesn’t mean they’re not. However, continue to measure outputs using the same suite of KPIs you’ve always had in place. For example, in our call centre we look at response times, number of calls taken and customer feedback, and ensure they’re in-line with normal working days.