Since the COVID pandemic employees now expect that they will have at least part of their week working from home. In the last few weeks, I have spoken to multiple recruiters who have said that working from home, at least some of the time, is now a minimum expectation. Not offering this option could therefore make attracting the best staff difficult.
But what happens when you are not confident your employees are going to do the right thing and be as productive as they could be?
If someone is hardworking, trustworthy, and does the right thing at the office, they should in theory do the same thing at home. If you do not trust your employees now, chances are there are other issues that need to be addressed. Working from home is likely to emphasise problems rather than cause them. Working from home may not be the key problem to be addressed.
Nevertheless, there are more distractions at home, and it is easy for anyone to get into bad habits. Here are some things you can do to keep your team productive whilst working from home:
1. Set Clear Targets/Performance Measures/KPIs
This is the easiest way to manage performance, both in the office and outside of it. Some managers prefer to judge performance based on gut feel. But this is not going to work when working from home. You will see your employee even less so having measurable targets will be even more important.
Your team want to know that you trust and care about them. The easiest way to do this is to have a transparent document that sets out clearly the expectations and goals.
2. Weekly Catch Ups
Getting the balance right between too many meetings and too little is important. A weekly zoom meeting works well. This gives you an opportunity to check everybody’s workloads and identify any pain points. Consistency is key. If things start to get out of control go back to the basics.
3. 3-4 Month Performance Reviews
Whether from home or in the office, a Performance Review done well can work wonders for managing team performance and keeping the team engaged. People like to have goals and targets. I’ve career coached lots of people and lack of clarity for their direction is one of their most common problems. Without ambitious goals your team can become bored, de-motivated or just overwhelmed.
You can have hundreds of processes, but this will never replace good communication. In the book The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey (2006) explains how trust can either speed up, or slow down progress of a company. Keeping trust levels high not only improves speed of performance, but it also leads to higher employee retention and engagement.
5. Choose to Trust Your Team
If you are not used to giving your team a long leashe, allowing them to work from home could feel like a huge step.
Unless your team have done something to mistrust them, it will be important to extend trust in the first instance. Any issues of mistrust in the past may need to addressed before putting a work from home plan in place.
6. Keep Things Fair and Reasonable
One of the most common complaints from team members is that decisions are not fair and reasonable. A working from home policy should therefore be fair and equal across the board otherwise people will start to feel hard done by. This will lead to lower trust levels, poor morale, and people leaving your business.
7. Measure Success Using the Right Metrics
I have often heard managers get stressed about their team popping out for a coffee or not being at their home desk when they expect them to be. Unless your team member is someone that is very unreliable, judging them too harshly could go against you.
The reality is that one of the major benefits of working from home is the flexibility. This does not mean that people should take advantage. It just means there is no point sweating the small stuff. Instead go back to the performance measures and measure your team’s performance based those rather than the little things. You and your team will feel much happier for it. Trust will go up, and so will performance.