Your first question upon landing on this article may be about my credentials for writing on this topic.
I have been working from my Kansas City home office continuously for a year and a half and also have throughout my 25+ year career worked from home on several occasions.
Secondly, I have had the opportunity to study how people work as a talent management consultant in a variety of situations. I understand and appreciate the dynamics of working remotely.
Working from home presents a unique challenge to the organization and employees alike. The organization must retain productivity and results, while the employee who has been asked to now work from home must transition and adapt to a new working paradigm.
I have personally found that by focusing on three principles of work-life – Communication, Performance, and Routine (CPR) – the dynamic of working from home has been mostly a smooth and effective one for my fellow CMP team members and me. It is my sincere desire that these concepts will help you as well.
Ensuring that you are actively communicating with your key stakeholders and clients is an area that needs special attention when shifting to a work-from-home scenario. Staying connected and engaged when working remotely is critical.
You want to keep yourself “top of mind” and “present” within your team and department and make yourself available at a moment’s notice (akin to your boss stopping by your office to help with a project or attend to a need).
Managers will want to virtually check-in with their employees on an even more regular basis to maintain that mutual connection.
For executives, many boardrooms and key stakeholder/shareholder meetings are now virtual but no less critical. Below is a helpful resource for making your virtual meetings as effective and productive as possible:
Focusing your energy on measurable outcomes is always an imperative for a conscientious worker, but having clear goals and performance expectations as a “guidepost” when working remotely is especially essential.
As an example, I came up with the idea for this article, which aligns with one of my performance expectations to produce timely and relevant thought leadership for our friends and clients. An effective performance management process travels anywhere.
Employees, managers, and executives should have more frequent performance discussions during stressful times and when working dynamics change, such as a good portion of the workforce needing to, at least for now, work from home.
Creating a daily schedule and prioritizing your time to fit this “new normal” of working from home helps keep you on track and sane.
I asked a friend of mine, who had just begun working remotely from his home office after many years of going into his office at a local, large healthcare provider, what his biggest concerns were about this transition. Without hesitation, he said: “Not being distracted is my #1 concern (he has a wife, two teenage boys and two dogs at home with him) – when I am in the office, I think I am more focused. I have to learn how to focus from home. (As a Director and people manager of several) I am not evaluated on my own production but rather ensuring that the job gets done.”
Setting boundaries to create a routine that works for each of us individually in our unique home environment is often the necessary path to take. There will time to work, time to interact with the kids, spouse, significant others, pets, etc., and then time to return to the work schedule based on priorities that align with performance goals and expectations. As an example, my friend understands the relationship between a routine that will help him focus and how his performance is being measured.
To wrap up, this is an unprecedented time that will challenge all of us. We all need to adapt to the change happening so quickly and be creative in managing the transitions we are making uniquely at this time when so many employees are being asked to work from home.
I hope that our CPR Key Principles – Communication, Performance, and Routine, will help you survive and thrive during these world-changing events and what for many of you is a “new normal.” Stay connected, focus your time on performance-related activities, and create a routine that works uniquely for you to make your transition to working from home easier, quicker, and more productive.
About the Author
Scott McTague is the Senior Vice President of Talent Fit Solutions for CMP.