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by | Mar 13, 2018

Home Away from Work

See if you recognize yourself in one of these two work-from-home types:

Sarah is highly productive, gets a dozen things checked off the to-do list, is focused and energized. She is organized, has a comfortable work space.
Jack means well to start the day, but ends up raiding the fridge every twenty minutes, tunes in to Ellen – maybe even a bit of Judge Judy on a bad day – and generally feels a bit meh.

What does Sarah have that Jack doesn’t? Maybe some natural extra self-motivation, sure. Or maybe she just doesn’t have cable. But we’re willing to bet that there’s also some home office TLC that would make a big difference in Jack’s life.

Design of the Times

For any company today, workplace design needs to factor in telecommuting, for at least some if not most of its workforce. Stats from all corners of the world show that working from home is better for productivity and the company’s bottom line, better for the environment, better for stress levels, and so on. Some quick figures:

  • The Royal Society for Public Health in the UK found that 55% of people felt more stressed as a result of their commute.
  • American Express reported savings of $10-15 million annually thanks to its telecommuting policies.
  • Dell’s telecommuting program – from several years ago already – reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 6,700 metric tons, or the equivalent of not driving 16 million miles.

While people like Jack might simply be lazy, it’s more likely they also feel disconnected when they’re on their own – from the greater team, from the larger purpose of the company. Then there’s the issue of not having a proper workspace away from work, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Luckily, there’s a trick or two to keeping people like Jack on track when they work from home. Creating engaged, inspired remote employees is all about putting work into cultivating the relationship:

  • Touch base daily: a video call, a few text messages, even (gasp) an old school phone call is an easy and effective way to ensure people stay engaged and connected to the greater team.
  • Go deep: While daily contact is fine, it’s important to understand the person on a more personal level. Remember, the small jokes and human, face-to-face moments in the office are mostly missing from the telecommuting experience, so scheduling monthly or quarterly discussions that mix work and life discussions is key.
  • There’s an app for that: Of course there is. Technology is key to any remote working solution. Apps like Slack and TimeCamp are great for re-creating that office connection feeling, and as a bonus they help employers understand just how much the employee is connected and working.
  • Get physical: Don’t leave Jack to fend for himself with regards to office furniture, making the kitchen table or the sofa do double-duty. People still need to feel that it’s time for work, and creating a separate space between work and home is key. Setting workers up with a sit-stand desk, or with some office furniture that helps to simulate the actual office feel will put people in a work frame of mind. (Oh – btw, there’s a company for that).

Have any work from home tips that help you or your team stay connected? Feel free to leave a comment below – we’d be happy to hear from you.