Thoughts

How work from home can be productive

We’ve been working from home since Rocksauce began. We have our office, but a lot of our employees work in different cities. Why limit our talent pool when working from home can be just as productive – and is often more productive – than a traditional office setting?

Our work from home employees (well – that’s almost all of us right now, isn’t it?) actually work harder at home because they don’t realize they’re working. They often end up working more hours than if they were at the office. Plus they aren’t driving to and from the office every day so those hours aren’t wasted and they’re able to be more productive overall.

But to make work from home productive as a company, you need to have some work from home guidelines. At Rocksauce, we have 5 simple directives we follow to ensure our employees are productive, connected, and successful.

1) Maintain real-time communications

You need a real time chat system for everyone to communicate with each other. There are a lot of great solutions out there: Discord, Microsoft Teams, Slack (we use Slack), etc.

These message platforms are here for quick communications and brainstorming amongst your team. The goal here is to keep everyone connected just as if they were in the office, so you shouldn’t be messaging people at 10:30pm just because you can.

Q shared a pic of his son, Fox, in the #cute-things channel in Slack. The little 3-year-old can already spell his name!

Use these platforms to keep communication clear and focused. We like to have a lot of channels, each with their own purpose. One of our Slack channels is called “standup” and we use it to announce to each other when we’re working and available, when we go to lunch and get back, and when we’re done for the day. This way we know when everyone is at their desk and working.

We also have channels for fun and camaraderie. We have a “meme” room, a “random” room, a “tech” room, and a “cute things” room where people posts pics of dogs, cats, and babies. A team that enjoys communicating with each other is more likely to communicate in general. And by communicating like this in the message platform, it creates familiarity with the program so your employees are more likely to use it for work.

2) Define work hours

A traditional office setting provides parameters and clarity: you show up at a certain time, you leave at a certain time. Work is work and home is home. So placing parameters on your work from home employees helps facilitate a home environment that more closely resembles the office.

When are your employees expected to work? Should they clock in at 9am and out at 5pm? Do they need to check in for an 8 hour block between 7am and 7pm? At Rocksauce we do a rolling block of hours: we expect our full-time work from home employees to be working an 8 hour block in a day. We’ve built up the trust and routine to allow this kind of flexibility. And we use the “standup” channel to stay informed about when everyone has “arrived” to the start their day.

3) Get up and move

Keep your body moving! Even in the office, no one likes to sit stationary for 8 hours. You get up for a cup of a coffee or walk over to your neighbors desk for a quick word. You need to that at your home office, too. Keep the blood flowing with a 5 minute break to get some fresh air. Take your dog out for a potty break. Go to the kitchen to get a cup of a coffee. It’s okay to do these things; with occasional breaks, the time you spend at your desk is more focused and productive.

4) Actually work from home

Trust your employees to actually work from home. And, employees, recognize that your bosses have put faith in you to get your work done.

Don’t abuse the work from home policies. That’s what companies are worried about the most. When you say you are working, be working. It’s okay to have white noise in the background, but don’t get suckered into watching Netflix and take 30 minutes to write what should be a 2 minute email.

Be present. Be working. Don’t take advantage of the confidence your bosses have in you. Following through with this mutual trust engenders professional relationships that lead to better collaboration, improved performance, and a more positive company culture.

Part of the joy of working at Rocksauce and working from home: weekly Breaking Bread with the team. We share a meal from a distance while we share our successes from the week.

5) Communicate with family and friends

When you are working at home, it is important for your family and friends to know that that you are actually working from home. Some might think it’s a chance for you to slack off and play hooky, but you are getting paid to work, so you need to be working. Make it clear to your family and friends that they shouldn’t try to derail you from that focus.

Sometimes when we’re working from home, we need a change of scenery or a break from whatever is happening in the house. Maybe go to a coffee shop for a couple of hours. Or consider using a round robin system with your local colleagues: one day a week you might work at their home, helping everyone break from the home environment and reconnect with their colleagues (don’t do that right now, though – quarantine!).

To work from home, you need to communicate

The key to making a work from home company culture successful is to communicate. A lot. Bosses should communicate clearly with employees about needs and expectations. And employees should be communicating clearly with each other: when they’re online, what they’re working on, what road blockers they’ve encountered, where they’ve had success, etc.

If you communicate clearly and trust your team, then working from home can build a very positive and productive company. We’ve been doing it here at Rocksauce for a long time and we’ve seen exciting collaborations and amazing results.

If you want to collaborate with Rocksauce for some amazing results, give us a call 866.981.6847 or send us a message. At Rocksauce, we want to help you find the best solutions to your biggest problems.

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