Home Working – A Managing Director’s Perspective
March 24, 2020
Author: Paul Lynch
Moving from having a workforce that was predominately office-based working to 100% remote has presented a number of challenges.
Personally, I find that you need to apply the same disciplines at home as you would do in the office. Make sure you get up at your normal time, use your commute to do some exercise, shower and get ready for the day as per usual. Try and put into your calendar a break in the morning and afternoon and 30 minutes for lunch every day, to avoid people filling your entire diary with calls.
We use Microsoft Teams as our core communication tool, and I can utilise the status management to notify people of my availability. I set myself key objectives for the day and tick them off as I go. I ensure I touch base with my leadership team, and we engage on a regular basis.
As a team we need to be strong leaders at these moments; ensure we communicate accurately and avoid any speculation. As a company we get together every morning at 09:15 for a video update. It doesn’t take long – just 15 minutes – and the feedback has been positive. We cover relevant updates regarding the current global situation as well as a general business update and keep things positive and collaborative at what is a clearly a difficult time.
Make it fun
It’s important in these meetings to recreate some office fun, the kind of ‘coffee machine’ atmosphere you probably take for granted but will be missed over the coming weeks and months. Allow time for this to happen at the start of meetings whilst people join, as a natural segue as people join listen or join in the chatter, before we get down to business.
Every Friday we hold a themed company meeting, I select two people from the team to present on a topic and we top and tail the meeting with the usual updates. Our first meeting to get the camera’s turned on was done in wigs and hats, it was brilliant, and everyone seemed to join in. Other ideas include Christmas decorations, pets, and even drinks (I’d suggest doing this late on a Friday…)
We have created in Microsoft Teams a coffee chat room, a place where people can reach out to socialise as a team. This took some time to get momentum, and often needs stimulating with some fun topics, such as ‘name your top five albums’ to get some conversation flowing.
The key objective is to maintain the social elements of the working environment whilst the entire workforce is remote. Last week a team held a quiz and there are plans for themes every week on company calls.
Video conferencing is a new challenge for everyone, we have adopted it well and through some of the above initiatives we have engaged the majority of the team. Above all, we encourage everyone to turn on video at all times. Although one or two of us are probably wary of missing the odd shave or haircut now we’re working from home, it’s vital to continue face-to-face communication as we see out an extended time away from the office.
The benefits of keeping healthy are as vital at this time as any other, but it’s easy to slip into bad habits when working from home. We have engaged external companies to help us with employee wellbeing, and actively encourage the team and if they have children join the Joe Wicks fitness session every morning at 9am – in fact we moved the company update call to allow this. We are looking at other initiatives such as team step competitions and chair yoga to boost our wellness from the home.
As a business leader, now is the time to lead from the front, embrace all the tools available to you and fully join in with the fun elements. Ensure you understand your teams’ requirements, as a lot of staff may live alone and will now be missing out on that vital day-to-day work social. Make sure your staff know you are there for them and are aware of all of the support available during what is going to be a challenging time.
The message from me is: It’s business as usual… not quite as we know it, but we can be equally as successful.