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Making remote work arrangements: Tips for team members

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to reassess many aspects of how we live and how we work. There is now an ongoing conversation on working remotely and its place in the ‘new normal’ of life. Working remotely may not be the desired choice for everyone. However for many, the flexibility to work in a different space for the day is beneficial and increases productivity, well-being and overall job satisfaction.

When thinking about working remotely, it may be useful to consider the areas below and discuss them with your leader. For those who already have the option to work from home, thinking through the different areas may help to avoid any potential pitfalls. These points can prove useful when attempting to identify a work-from-home approach that works for you, your line manager and your team.

Consider your work responsibilities

The first sense-check needed to assess work-from-home options is to consider your role. Doing our jobs well is our first responsibility as employees and if being physically present is required to conduct specific tasks then that must be the priority. However there are roles or specific tasks within roles that could possibly be carried out remotely. When making a request to work-from-home consider:

  • Am I needed to complete any physical tasks that require my presence?
  • How will I/my team ensure that there is enough coverage within the department to assist internal or external customers if they want in-person assistance?
  • What kind of a schedule might be best to start to test working-from-home occasionally?

Consider your work relationships

Another critical consideration is the relationship with your line manager/supervisor and your team. While some managers will be familiar with remote working arrangements and are very comfortable with it, others will be more cautious. Trust is core to an effective remote working relationship. An employee hoping to work remotely will be more persuasive if they already have a strong reputation as a performer and a track record of success. If that does not already exist, be sure to build it before considering working-from-home.

 

Consideration must also be given for effective communication within the team. It may be important for team members to have the opportunity to see each other, discuss projects both formally and informally and work on building relationships within and across departments. Additional questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my line manager trust me to carry out my tasks independently? How can I build trust?
  • How can I maintain open and appropriate communication on tasks even as I aim to be less physically present?
  • How can my department set-up schedules to allow for some remote working while still facilitating regular interactions if needed?

Consider your ongoing performance

One of the number one reasons organisations are cautious about working from home is the concern that employees will be distracted and fail to complete the required tasks. It is imperative that employees working remotely ensure that they are able to deliver on time and in full.

  • How will I align on priorities and communicate performance progress with my line manager?
  • How will I create a working environment at home that allows for focus, data security and quiet working time as necessary?
  • How will I safely access needed data and respond to requests via appropriate mediums?
  • How will I ensure accessibility so that leaders and team members can still reach you easily and quickly if necessary?

For all of us, taking the time to consider our ideal working arrangements and collaborating with our leaders and team members to find effective solutions can be beneficial. Whatever the outcome, reassessing and where possible, optimising our ways of working may allow us to work smarter as we all strive to make the lives of those we serve better.

For more recommendations on working remotely, check out the courses below on Linkedin Learning:

To be or not to be working from home?

To misquote Shakespeare, this is a question that is being asked on management training courses at the Civil Service College and I am sure by other managers across the civil service.

Managers are asking how do we manage our staff if we cannot see them in the office?

The benefits of home working to the employee are fairly obvious, better work life balance, flexibility of work hours, avoidance of traffic congestion, not having to dress up for work or put on makeup etc.

There are three basic questions the manager needs to ask before making the decision:-

  1. Can the work be physically done at home?
  2. Will customer service suffer?
  3. Will the office team performance/culture/dynamics be adversely affected?

If the answer to the above questions are yes, no and no then remote working can be considered a good option for both the employer and employee.

The question is how are we going to choose which staff member to work remotely and how do we manage them?

Knowing your staff is critical in making this decision and how will the management style you adopt change whether they are working from home or in the office.

If a member of staff Y is happy to work, wants to exert themselves, self-motivated to pursue objectives, no need for the system that involves rewards and punishment, prepared to take responsibility for everything they do and want to use their creativity, this staff member may be the best candidate for remote working.

On the other hand a member of staff X who is, a poor performer, wants to avoid work, avoids responsibility, has no ambition, has to be continually monitored, coerced and controlled, this staff member may be not the best candidate for remote working.

The choice of whether to choose a participative style of leadership or an authoritarian management style does not depend on the physical location of a staff member, but on the type of work being performed and whether the staff member is of the X or Y type.

However, there are a number of things that may need more of a focus to get the best out of a remote worker:-

  • Remote workers need to have the right equipment and conditions to be able to perform effectively in their home environment.
  • Remote workers need to be communicated with on a regular basis not just by the manager but also by other team members to make them continually feel part of the team.
  • Remote workers need to be set the same performance objectives as those who work in the office. However, there needs to be a greater emphasis on results and regular reporting.
  • Managers need to randomly check in with remote workers to monitor work progress
  • Remote workers can feel isolated, so it is important that they come into the office on a regular basis and be invited to any team social events

With the pandemic a number of persons worldwide that are now working from home. There are number helpful tips and advice available on Linkedin Learning.

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