Holding yourself accountable while working from home

On Friday we’re holding the first of a series of round tables to help our clients figure out how to get the most productivity while staff is working from home. Friday’s topic is, “How do you know your work from home employees are working?” I hope you can join us. Reply to this email and I’ll send you an invite. We’ll hear about success and if you’re struggling you’ll have peers to bounce questions and ideas off of. But the whole work from home thing isn’t all about managers learning how to measure work. It’s about employees holding themselves accountable too.

Successful work from home is a skill that not everyone possesses. At Harbor, during interviews if the potential employee doesn’t ask why people fail at working for us, we tell them. The most common cause of failure isn’t tech skills, it’s people skills and the ability to self-motivate while working from home. Successful employees are go-getters that wake up in the morning knowing what they need to accomplish and then set about doing it. For me, I think of what I once heard Wil Smith say. He said, “Every day I wake up and say, My life is amazing! What do I have to do to keep this going? And then I go do it.” I use that to keep my own self-motivation going. Everyone needs a mantra to give them a boost now and then.

Let’s say the business has provided remote workers with the same level of equipment, modern business processes and bridged the communication gap. There’s still part of the success equation that the employee has to come up with on their own because they are responsible for keeping themselves accountable.

Here are a few tricks employees can use:

  • Create lists
  • Set timers
  • Check in
  • Chat with co-workers
  • Set goals
  • Review your own work
  • Reward yourself

I always start my day with a mental of list of what I absolutely have to accomplish today no matter what and then I have a list of minor tasks or new projects that I could start if I get those first items done. I’m not a big list maker but some people. If very detailed lists help you get things done, then make that list.

The other thing I do is to not get buried in small tasks or meeting. I’ll let small tasks build up and then I’ll spend an entire day just ticking them off. It feels great. I do this because those little tasks can suck my ability to get the big things done and weigh on my mind. But clumped together I feel great about myself for getting dozens of things done that day.

Along the way though don’t forget to celebrate yourself. Got something done? Go get a fresh cup of coffee. Take a walk with the dog. Break for lunch. Pick one and then get back to work and work toward your next reward. You’ll also need to check-in with the boss from time to time. Open up a chat in Teams and let them know where you’re at on a project. Or announce happily that you finished something. We all have those moments, phew done with that! You are not an island so don’t act like one.

A great remote employee also reviews their own work. Micro managers often find reviewing the work of others as one of their most important tasks. But when you work from home there isn’t a manager looking over your shoulder. You are your own manager. So review your work and make sure that it’s right before you announce that it’s done. It might sound like extra work and it is a bit but mostly you’ll find that it’s a feel-good moment where you get to impress yourself with what a great job you’ve done.

You can help yourself by doing these things too:

  • Camera on communications
  • Get dressed for work
  • Have a great work space
  • Stay in touch with co-workers

Being seen and heard is important. It was important when you worked in the office and it’s just as important when you work at home. At Harbor, if we stop hearing from someone, everyone notices and we check-in on them to make sure everything’s ok. That’s how connected we are. We have an on-going water cooler chat, it flares up on the morning and sometimes during the day too. That’s OK. That’s how communication at work, works. Sometimes there’s a lot and sometimes there’s a little. So, keep those camera’s on during meetings. We want to see you, know that you’re ok. We want to see you dressed for work and in your office. And yes, we want you to post that meme, go on a rant, ask for help and please send praise to your fellow employees. It’s all part of a healthy work environment.

The employer, the manager and employee are all part of the productivity process. Work from home can be great but only when all of the components come together.

How do you know your work from home staff are working? That’s the topic that we’re going to be talking about on Friday from 9-10am. We’ve invited a couple of our clients that have been remarkably successful, we’ll bring in our own examples and then each of the attendees will have an opportunity to get some advice from the other attendees. These mastermind style groups can be amazingly effective. I hope that you’ll join us on Friday.

Whether your a busines owner or manager, ff you’d like to attend, please reply then I’ll send you a calendar invitation to the online meeting. It’ll be well worth an hour of your time.

-Amy Babinchak, President, Harbor Computer Services

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