Virtual working has been steadily increasing over the past few years, namely due to the practical benefits for both businesses and employees alike. In 2017, over half (58%) of employees were offered flexible working, (1) demonstrating the need for solid employee engagement strategies. However, despite this rise, there continues to be issues surrounding the productivity and efficiency of those who work from home. In response to the recent Work From Home Week (15th – 21st January), experts came together to offer advice and tips on how to get the most out of working from home, for both employers and employees.
Don’t close off the communication lines
At the start of the virtual working process, managers and team members need to identify the best ways to communicate before going forward. Nigel Purse, Founder of The Oxford Group, (2) highlights how vital it is for both parties to be comfortable, making them more likely to ask questions and pass comment on subjects they would otherwise avoid. Frequent conversations about the employee’s progress and to provide support and advice are very effective.
Ensure you have clear aims
When in the office, tasks are likely to be backed up with explanation and meaning behind it; however when working virtually, this background information may be missed off. Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, (3) suggest that if the objective behind a task is unclear, you are more likely to become distracted and move focus on to something which you know you understand and enjoy. They suggest prior to starting something, make sure you have received the full brief and you understand your motivation behind completing it.
Keep a good work-life balance
One of the common traits of employees who work from home is the inability to retain a healthy work-life balance. A recent survey by London-based law firm Brookman Solicitors (4) revealed that 63% of individuals surveyed said they planned to change or improve an aspect of their life in 2018, including improving their work-life balance. Having a separate office and even remote working in cafés can provide a great way to separate work from home, as well as improving working habits, boosting concentration and leaving you feeling more productive at the end of the working day.
Retain your sense of purpose
When working from home, it is extremely easy to feel disconnected from the business and its overall aims and objectives, due to the decreased levels of communication. However, in order to remain productive in a virtual workforce, it’s crucial to retain a sense of purpose and belonging. Susanne Jacobs, author of Drivers (£14.99 Panoma Press), believes having purpose gives a reason for each of us to get up in the morning and strive to reach our goals and work for an output which supports a value close to our hearts.