How to keep teams thriving in the work-from-home age

 How to keep teams thriving in the work-from-home age

Now that work from home, aka, WFH, is an acronym that many people the world over are living with, your company or educational organization may still be figuring out the best way to accomplish your missions.

So, we thought we’d share what we’ve learned here at Foxit, from one organization to another. Keep in mind that these tips are broken down into teams and IT infrastructure categories. While they focus on business organizations, many of the recommendations apply to education institutions as well.

Best practices we’ve developed for working from home

  • Stick to your daily routines.
    • Before you had to work from home, you had a daily routine which included personal activities such as family time, exercise, entertainment and administrations tasks, and work activities like project time, meetings and reviews. Don’t change it! Follow the same routines that have worked so well for you in the past and savor the extra time you now have without the daily commute.
  • Set up recurring meetings with your team.
    • Don’t drop the meetings you normally schedule. Instead, retool them around the virtual world. If you normally go around the room to chat a bit about your part of a project, choose a conference system that enables gallery views where each person can see everyone else. Be sure to run an agenda to keep things moving and hold chaos at bay.
    • Build in time for the kinds of meetings that happen casually, like check-ins that occur when you run into team members in the hallway. Set up time to track everyone’s progress—they’ll appreciate it and so will you.
    • Lack of in-person connection with others can be really hard on your team, so choose a remote conferencing solution with video. Yes, we may not all look our best when working from home, but it’s a nice morale booster to make yourself look presentable and see everyone’s smiling, tooth-brushed, hair-combed faces. I can’t stress the importance of these kinds of regularly scheduled interactions.
  • Set clear expectations and deadlines to keep everyone focused and on track.
    • Yes, we should be doing this anyway, but we all know things get busy and this sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Trust your team, but also implement tracking to measure productivity. Troubleshoot and remediate if you determine that productivity falls below desired requirements. Remember that time saved from no commuting? Suggest that this is a good way to spend it.
  • Set up chat software so teammates can communicate real-time.
    • When team members have quick questions that need quick responses, chat comes to the rescue. Have everyone logged into chat software during business hours so quick questions and conversations can easily occur. If your organization is like most, you’ll soon see people taking advantage of check-ins, conversations and maybe even passing a few jokes and memes along for fun. It helps make employees feel less “remote.”
  • Set up meetings with the whole organization so everyone understands the big picture.
    • Similar to #2, these bigger full organization meetings should happen less frequently, but have additional importance. They allow everyone to feel part of the larger organization, not just the smaller team. In these times of economic uncertainty, it’s a great opportunity to share company information, plans, and performance, plus stop anyone who goes to that “no news isn’t good news” place from assuming the worst.
  • Do periodic reviews to see how team members are coping.
    • Some folks handle sudden remote working better than others. Some will be affected more by the news. Some have additional distractions like homeschooling children. Do periodic reviews to get a read on all employees and provide help with coping when required so they know you’re on their team.

From an IT perspective, with the suddenness of worldwide changes, you may have been caught off-guard and not fully prepared to run the business with home based employees.

While it may be tricky to implement some of these suggestions now, it’s not too late for others. And it’s a good time to think about implementing any or all of them when things return to normal to be better prepared for the next unexpected situation.

  • Set up IT infrastructure so everyone has access to the resources they need.
    • This includes technologies such as VPNs, remote terminal access, remote access to computer storage, remote access to enterprise applications, etc.
  • Consider better utilization of the cloud
    • Like everything in life, cloud based solutions have pros and cons. One of their biggest advantages is that they’re accessible from anywhere and can be safely accessed through VPNs. Employees now have easy access to their applications, data, and files whether they’re at the office, home, or during business travel.
  • Get gains from compressing files
    • Working at home typically means employees have to check files out and download them many times a day. Yet with many areas experiencing network bandwidth issues, file download times have become unwieldy. Compressing files can speed download times up to 50%, and you’ll find that, even when your workforce returns to normal, you’ll use less storage, increase employee satisfaction, and save in intranet costs as well. It’s not too late to take advantage of this. By prioritizing frequently accessed files for compression, you can score some “quick wins” right now.
  • Think about standardizing on portable devices
    • Laptop costs have dropped so the price difference between laptops and desktop systems have narrowed. In times like this, bringing home your laptop is much more convenient. The keyboards and screens are big enough for short term use, and can be expanded to support full keyboards, mice, and multiple large screens.

What’s the number one takeaway? Remind your staff—and yourself—that we’re all in this together. Every business, every organization, every team is made up of the people within it. Keep thriving, stay healthy, and let us at Foxit know if there’s any way we can help.

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