Five Simple Ideas for Telework Week

The government’s Telework Week starts March 5. That’s right. The federal government is pushing telework. Are you really going to let the federal government be more cutting-edge than you are? Of course not. Join the effort!

Already doing the remote thing? Make next week about improving the remote experience. Survey your people, both in the office and at home. What’s working well about your telework processes? What problems do they encounter regularly? What do they wish was different that would help them be more effective working from home? Prioritize the feedback and commit to improving 2-3 things. Identify some project teams, set some deadlines. Don’t forget to plan for the post-survey to make sure you’ve achieved solutions.

Just starting out? Next week is a great time to start experimenting. Pick a day and send everyone home. Regardless of where you are in the telework spectrum, one day with everyone working somewhere other than the office will teach you more than any amount of reading and planning. Choose one or two of these simple ideas for your one-day event.

  1. Start the conversation. Spend a few minutes and build a list of your biggest concerns about teleworking. Share it with your team and help them build mini-experiments to test your concerns. Worried about how to get in touch with them when you need them? Let them know you’ll be doing some random calls to evaluate how tough it really is. Worried they won’t really work? Have them identify what they’ll accomplish and then talk to them the next day to see how it went. Just having the conversation will raise your team’s trust to a new level.
  2. Schedule a team check-in meeting. The biggest hurdle to telework is sometimes the manager’s fear of technology. Force yourself to push through it. Even a 10-minute roll call will force you to learn how to set-up a conference call, how to manage multiple people on the phone, how to listen without seeing someone’s face.
  3. Pick a project. One of the benefits of working remotely is an increased level of focus. Identify that one project that you never seem to make any progress on, the one that always gets pushed off for other priorities. Make that your team’s priority for the day. The day after, have a meeting to collate and collaborate on what was accomplished. Having a single focus for the day will not only move that strategic project along, but it might just prove to you that people can actually be more productive working from home.
  4. Find solutions. Make sure the team knows to keep a list of what went well and what went poorly. Compile the lists when you return to the office. Prioritize based on the cumulative impact to productivity. Give the list back to the team and identify what options you have to overcome the most problematic items. This kind of work flexibility is very attractive to most employees. It’s very likely they’ll work with you to find solutions you can both live with.
  5. Reward your best team. Not ready to send everyone home? What about your best team? Not only are they most likely to effectively work around any issues and maintain high levels of productivity, but the message that the team with the best results gets to try teleworking is a powerful motivator.
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