Moving folks home is challenging for many employers, but don't forget how disruptive and unsettling it may be for your workers. Preparing your workers for the change will be your best chance to reap maximum productivity and quell team anxiety.
Here are some tips to ease the transition.
Home Workstation Plan
What will folks be taking home from their work environment? Does everyone have an ergonomic setup at home? Does everyone have a space to work at home? If not, what other options can be offered? If they will be setting up a computer station, be sure to supply them with written instructions and pictures if possible.
In the taking a computer home scenario, if you don't already use a Chat application, we strongly recommend you select one and get it installed on all computers before sending them home. If they don't already, help them use the Status feature of the chat application to indicate when they are available or away.
Strengthen your online collaboration plan. Already using Office 365 or Google Docs for business? Great. Make sure everyone is truly using it/knows how to use it, and will be engaged.
Do you share Calendars? Outlook or Gmail? Encourage folks to set their working hours, lunch break and other breaks so everyone on the team (especially you) knows when to expect to be able to reach each other.
Much of the uneasiness or anxiety around working from home can stem from uncertainty around expectations. What will be different? Do they expect me to check in all the time? What if my kids won't leave me alone, will I get in trouble?
Assure your team that you know this arrangement will be different and will require adjustment, on everyone's part. Be clear about your expectations. You may need to translate your normal routine to fit a distributed model. That will likely take more trust and flexibility. For many of us, it will be more important to help workers feel successful and hang in there, than try to squeeze every drop of productivity out of the team and end up losing half of them.
What is your normal team meeting schedule? Will you have daily team meetings? When do you meet with each person individually? If you don't usually schedule those meetings and rely on dropping in, consider scheduling them so workers know when they will have your undivided attention. Do you plan to hold meetings online? Check out this article: Guide to Facilitating Online Meetings.
Communications & Comradery
How often do you expect to hear from your workers? Do they collaborate with each other now? If not, how could collaboration increase their work productivity? We know collaboration will support their health and reduce the feelings of isolation.
Do you normally have potlucks? Have them virtually! Do folks go out for drinks after work? Hold a cocktail party virtually! Share recipes of their favorite dishes/drinks/desserts. Do you typically decorate for special occasions? Consider the MTV Cribs "Office" edition and have folks showcase their home office. Have a contest for the most creative workspace. Encourage connection that keeps the team comradery going, even though they are not physically together.
Do you want to give your workers some more support? We wrote this article just for you: Worker's Guide to Being Productive at Home.