The new rules of working from home

Your home office can be just as productive as a traditional work environment when your team follows these four rules.
By aha insurance - May 20, 2020

At aha insurance we continually explore ways to stay in control of all aspects of life – because we know life is about more than insurance. In our Work Matters series we talk about staying in control of your life and reaching your #careergoals. Control feels great!

The ability to work from home is a privilege that requires you and your coworkers to follow through with accountability and productivity. You’ve probably already carved out a dedicated home workspace and set up the basic technology you need to communicate with your team from home. Now it’s time to tailor your time management, communication, and work reporting skills for your remote work routine.

Flexible hours are a must

The 9-5, Monday-Friday work week has been standard since the Ford Motor Company implemented it as a response to labour union demands in the 1920s. The rise of new technologies like cloud-based project management tools and video conference services have made telecommuting and adopting flexible work schedules accessible to many Canadian workers. For these reasons, it’s essential that employers offer their remote employees the opportunity to modify their work schedules to suit their needs.

Research also shows that flexible work arrangements are popular among both Canadian employees and employers. A 2018 study conducted by The Conference Board of Canada found that 86% of Canadian companies are offering flexible work options to their employees. Another survey conducted by Statistics Canada found that 79% of employees who work flexible hours are satisfied with their work versus 73% of workers who don’t have flexible work schedules.

In addition to increased job satisfaction, other benefits of flextime include:

  • Improved efficiency: employees can choose to work when they’re most productive and least likely to be distracted.
  • Teams can become more tech-savvy as they leverage technology to reduce time-wasting activities like unnecessary meetings and long back-and-forth email discussions.
  • The increased wellness that comes from improving your work-life balance. Employees who work from home with children can especially benefit from more flexible work hours to balance the demands of their work and family lives.

Employers who offer flextime are also more likely to attract and retain their top employees. All workers value the perks that come from having increased control over when they work. Don’t just create your work schedule without consulting your team, though; communication with your coworkers is key to working from home successfully.

Up the communication game (for everyone’s sake)

Working from home is excellent until somebody on your team misses a deadline because of a miscommunication that stems from a long and winding chain of emails. Remote work isn’t inherently less productive or more confusing for employees. Still, your team needs to put new systems in place that ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to setting project priorities, deliverables, and goals.

Project management software can be a lifesaver because it helps you track the progress and completion of every task that’s assigned to each member of your team. Our favourite project management tools are: Freedcamp, Basecamp, Asana and Collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, also let you chat with your team in real-time, call, and even video chat with coworkers.

Organizing your communication tools with different channels to facilitate focused discussions about each project and between every team in your organization is crucial. Consider creating a dedicated communication channel for your coworkers to socialize with each other. Casual communication spaces help to maintain positive relationships among coworkers, even when they can’t see each other in person daily.

Nobody should be shirking their work responsibilities to overshare about their personal life, or posting an endless stream of “The Office” memes. However, fostering a workplace culture in which coworkers can engage in casual conversation is key to team building. Building rapport and discovering new things you have in common with coworkers can boost job satisfaction, employee retention, and productivity.

Video coffee chats (but stay focused)

Project Management tools and the old-reliable business communication standard–email–are essential. Your team will also benefit from regular voice-to-voice and face-to-face communications to catch up on both work matters and “water cooler chat.”

Video chats are often the most efficient way to gauge your conversation partner’s feedback, including body language and facial expressions. Sometimes it’s also lovely to see your coworkers and engage in a conversation that allows you to make a more human connection.

Scheduling one-on-one coffee chats between employees and their managers is one of the best ways for busy individuals to discuss ongoing projects, professional wins and challenges, career coaching, and performance evaluation sessions.

Fortunately, we’re living in the golden age of affordable and convenient video call services. Zoom is the service on everyone’s radar recently, but there are a wealth of options:

Just like with text-based chats, casual video chats shouldn’t derail anyone’s ability to focus on their workday. If you have regular team stand-ups, you can plan an extra 10 minutes at the beginning, where teammates can chat about life outside of work. You can also schedule catch-up time at the end of the workweek, where coworkers can share their weekend plans and maybe even exchange their favourite TGIF memes.

Document everything

No matter what field you work in, documenting everything you do (and know) is beneficial for everyone, including yourself!

  • When a coworker emails you questions about the new company software you set up, you’ll want to have a detailed, user-friendly document that is ready to share.
  • If your boss calls for a performance review, you’ll want to have a list of your accomplishments, including how you contributed to all of your team’s recent projects.
  • During team meetings, it’s always helpful to have your list of questions regarding current and upcoming projects. It’s also a significant stress-saver to have documentation that can help you answer any coworkers in-meeting questions on short notice.

You probably already have the digital tools you need to effectively document all of the tasks you pour your energy into every day. If you don’t, then the project management tools we mentioned above are a great place to start! Smart documentation tools that track each team members’ progress help ensure nobody’s hard work goes unnoticed or wasted.

With the right tools and systems in place, documenting your work doesn’t have to be tedious or time-consuming. It will likely save you and your team from the headaches that can be caused by misplacing important documentation.

Your team can document everything with traditional Microsoft Office programs, project management software like Asana, cloud storage services like Google Drive or DropBox, or a combination of these tools. Everyone will be more efficient and confident when they can easily access and document their work and how it contributes to your organization’s success.

The most successful organizations are able to leverage cutting-edge technology and their valuable human resources to achieve their goals. When your team becomes experts at following the new rules of working and communicating from home, you’ll be unstoppable with your ability to work effectively from virtually anywhere!

aha insurance is Canada’s first car and home insurance brokerage to offer a fully online customer experience. Customers can purchase and manage their car and home insurance online in minutes from the convenience of wherever they are. This puts customers in complete control, and control feels great.