Danny Star, CEO and Founder of Website Depot Digital Marketing Agency, has helped hundreds of small businesses grow and expand.
Even if your office has opened up, do you still have much of your staff working remotely? Are you looking to get more out of them (without burning them out)?
That’s what we’re doing. It’s what plenty of our clients as well as our competitors are doing, too.
Remote work in the summer and fall of 2021 is not exactly like remote work in March 2020. Back then, so many of us were forced into it. We had to adjust immediately, on the fly, under pressure.
In the last year, we’ve all learned so much about what does and doesn’t work in regards to working remotely.
You likely already know to have frank discussions with those you live with, to have a space in your home for your office, to keep a schedule, have a set time when you stop working, etc. Those are the basics.
Below are some of the tips that my company has learned after more than a year of working remotely. We’ve been more successful than ever during that time, so we’re sticking with it.
Don’t feel guilty about taking much-needed breaks.
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I know I have a great team. That said, when we all had to work remotely, I, like just about every other CEO who suddenly had their team working not from an office but from home, worried: What if this throws them off their schedule and they don’t work as much?
As time went on, it became clear that wasn’t at all a concern. However, the opposite was true. Some folks work too much. They’re always available, day or night, 24/7. That’s not good either. Sure, I and their teammates appreciate their availability. But, inevitably, the quality of their work goes down. No one is meant to work that much. It takes a toll on their work as well as on their mental health.
I’m proud to run a company that takes mental health seriously. That’s one major reason we have so many rehab and treatment facility clients.
So, one thing every CEO should do: Make it clear that folks shouldn’t feel guilty for stopping work at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean “slack off” or anything. But it does mean when you take a break, actually take a break. Don’t just look at your phone. Get up. Go out. Go for a walk, at the minimum. Exercise.
Treat a remote work break the same way you’d treat an in-office break. During a break in an office, odds are you wouldn’t just sit at your desk and on your phone till it was time to go back to work.
You have to step away from work when it’s done or you won’t be able to do your best work. That’s true for employees and CEOs alike.
Adapt, adapt, adapt.
It took a while for many of us to figure out the best remote work routine.
That said, it’s important to continue adjusting as circumstances change. For example, one of my team members works while lying down. Is that what the experts recommend? No. In fact, they don’t think it’s a good idea at all. However, it’s what works for him. When it stops working or circumstances change in some way, he’ll adjust.
The same should go for every aspect of it. If you’re stumped thinking of ways to adjust your remote work schedule, there is one question you should ask yourself that we’ve found beneficial: What would I do if I was in an office?
One place that’s helped many team members’ productivity and quality of life is through meal prep. No, really. Meal prep.
Think about it: If you were working in an office, before you got to work you’d probably figure out what you were going to eat for lunch, right? You’d pack a lunch or plan out where you were going to go for lunch/have lunch delivered from. Do the same for when you’re working remotely. It saves you plenty of time (as you aren’t doing a lot of cooking when you’re on the clock). Moreover, it can help you eat that much healthier.
You’re less likely to just “graze” and eat too much if you’ve made a plan ahead of time. This is just one adjustment that can help your workload as well as your health and quality of life.
Make it easy to communicate, and make it count when you have to.
I have a global team. So, they have to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other quickly.
Even before the pandemic, I made sure that all of my team members had access to Basecamp, HubSpot, Trello and Slack. These tools were invaluable before the pandemic. They’re even more so now. Like everything else, their roles have changed over time.
Now, at our company, I tell my team that Basecamp is something that can be seen by team members as well as clients. Trello is more for the individual employee, as it can only be seen by the higher-ups here. To use an analogy from a physical, in-person office, Basecamp is like a bulletin board and Trello is like a personal notebook.
Between Slack, Facebook Messenger and similar platforms, we’re able to keep in contact with each other. That said, if something has to be done right away, we make phone calls. That’s how someone knows something is serious — and has to be done right now.
At the start of the pandemic, we held daily Zoom meetings during the week. This kept us in touch, kept us going forward and even helped morale. From a self-care standpoint, it lets us know that we’re all in this together. Over time, that evolved into doing them once a week. We get even more done than ever before.
Adapting your remote work protocols as circumstances change, and searching for the best way to work right now, can pay lasting dividends for you and your team.
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Author: Danny Star, Forbes Councils Member